Mozambique suffers another deadly blow from tropical Storm Filipo

Mozambique suffers another deadly blow from tropical Storm Filipo

Barely a year after the deadly Cyclone Freddy devastated Mozambique, Tropical Storm Filipo, another storm, and flooding is wreaking havoc across communities in several parts of the south of the country, including the capital city Maputo. 

Well over 56,000 people and 10,000 families have suffered injuries, with two deaths reported. Global Shelter Cluster reports that approximately 2,739 houses have been partially damaged, 139 houses were completely damaged, and 6,811 homes flooded. Further, 146 schools (22,442 students) were affected along with 51 health centers, 56 electric poles, and 19 roads. The lack of preparedness by the Mozambican government and world leaders alike to address humanitarian disasters like this has made the impacts more grievous for the citizens, especially the poorest and most vulnerable ones.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGD), UNICEF, WFP and OCHA, food, clean water, sanitation, health, and shelter are the most urgent needs identified through a joint multisectoral assessment for the provinces of Gaza, Inhambane, Maputo and Sofala. There is also an urgent need for resettlement, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of partially/completely damaged homes.

This disaster comes at a time when a range of communities and civil society groups –  including Justiça Ambiental JA! (Friends of the Earth Mozambique) – continue to campaign against the expansion of gas exploitation in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. Transnational giants TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Eni, and others blatantly ignore all opposition, and continue to develop three expensive liquified natural gas ( LNG) projects costing about  $50 billion. These projects will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Gas exploration is also being developed in Nampula and Inhambane provinces of Mozambique.

As it stands,  the Mozambique gas projects have displaced hundreds from their homes, brought devastating consequences for community peoples, their land, their livelihoods, and their climate — and have caused the country to incur more debt. Furthermore, activists, community leaders, and journalists are facing repression and shrinking civic space in the country, especially associated with the expansion of the gas industry. 

Executive Director of JA! Anabela Lemos says

Mozambique is one of the countries most affected by the climate crisis. We see this playing out in front of our eyes, with extreme weather events destroying lives livelihoods, and communities.  This must serve as a compelling wake-up call urging the world to transition away from fossil fuels towards 100% safe, affordable renewable energy for everyone. We must live in harmony with nature, otherwise lives are constantly in danger. 

Addressing the question of accountability for the losses and damages incurred by affected populations is paramount. Urgent action is required to ensure that those who are most vulnerable do not bear the burden of debts they did not incur, nor continue to suffer the consequences of a climate crisis they did not cause. This necessitates a comprehensive and equitable approach to reparations, potentially involving international mechanisms for compensation and assistance, as well as robust policies aimed at climate justice and adaptation financing.

Nerisha Baldevu, Friends of the Earth Africa (FoE Africa) coordinator believes that “Multinational corporations operate with impunity across the continent of Africa, pretending their exploitation of peoples, lands and resources are for our “development”! This lie must stop. Their power must be curbed. Their actions are destroying our planet, and leading to ever more devastating storms like Filipo (and Idai, five years ago), which impact our already struggling communities the most.  

Maimoni  Ubrei-Joe, Friends of the Earth Africa Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator says 

The recurring climate crisis in Mozambique comes as no surprise, as a result of the consistent warnings from multiple IPCC reports highlighting Africa’s heightened vulnerability to climate change, despite its minimal role in causing it. Regrettably, rather than extending genuine support to Mozambique for building resilience to these climate disasters, the governments of the Global North and Europe have opted to exploit the southern African nation as a convenient gas station. 

The demand for gas in the future is uncertain, and the LNG projects have been linked to increased violence in Cabo Delgado. The transition from dirty energy to clean renewable energy is a very clear possibility with the reality of things in the world today, these new oil and gas infrastructures may end up becoming stranded assets with this pace of the transition and would continue to fuel the global climate crisis and the ones currently being experienced in Mozambique.

We call on the government of Mozambique as well as other African leaders, investing banks, and multinational companies to stop funding the opening of our lands and waters to the expansion of oil and gas, which will exacerbate the sufferings and impacts of climate change on the peoples of Africa.  The need for climate finance to help the suffering people adapt to these impacts has become more urgent. The Loss and Damage fund operationalized during the last Conference of Parties in Dubai has got to go beyond meager pledges. Those who have the historical responsibility for the climate crisis need to take the lead indeed. 

Friends of the Earth Africa hereby call on:

  1. Relevant government institutions provide urgent assistance including food, clean water, sanitation, health services, and shelter to communities affected by climate disasters like Tropical Storm Filipo and other extreme weather events.
  2. Relevant government institutions and bilateral entities to implement plans for the resettlement, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of homes damaged or destroyed by climate-related events, ensuring affected populations are supported in rebuilding their lives.
  3. Mozambican government needs to hold multinational oil and gas corporations accountable for the environmental and social impacts of their operations, including displacement of communities and destruction of livelihoods.
  4. Multinational oil and gas corporations and development Banks cease funding and support for the expansion of oil and gas projects in regions like Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, which exacerbate the impacts of climate change and harm local communities.
  5. World leaders to transition swiftly from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy sources commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the severity of future climate-related disasters.
  6. World leaders to increase financial support for climate adaptation and resilience-building efforts in vulnerable regions, ensuring adequate resources are available to assist communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change.
  7. World leaders to establish mechanisms for providing compensation and assistance to communities disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters, ensuring that those who suffer the most receive support.
  8. Governments at all levels to safeguard the rights of activists and journalists who speak out against environmental injustices and human rights abuses associated with fossil fuel projects, ensuring their safety and freedom of expression.
  9. Governments at all levels to enact regulations to limit the power and impunity of multinational corporations operating in Africa, ensuring that their activities prioritize the well-being of communities and the environment over profit.
Inside the campaign to stop the largest gas projects in Africa

Inside the campaign to stop the largest gas projects in Africa

Mozambican communities and their allies are fighting to stop the multinational gas giants and financiers behind LNG projects that will cost $50 billion.

In Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, multinational giants TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Eni and others are developing three liquid natural gas, or LNG, projects. They will cost $50 billion, making them the largest LNG projects in Africa. Only one of these projects has started gas extraction, and already the industry has brought devastating consequences for communities, the land and climate — and has pushed the poor country further into debt.

However, the industry has a thorn in its side: the international Say No to Gas! campaign, which won’t let it get away with its actions without a fight.

The campaign is led by Friends of the Earth Mozambique, known locally as Justiça Ambiental, or JA!. For six years, until last July, I worked for JA! coordinating the international work of the campaign. My ultimate role was to make sure that the experiences of people on the ground reached an international level and platform.

As JA! Director Anabela Lemos recently explained, “The communities we work with have been suffering at the hands of TotalEnergies and companies that have taken everything from them, but they have remained resilient. Journalists and activists we know have disappeared, fishing and farming communities have lost everything. The industry is not bringing any of the ‘development’ they promised, but just pushing already poor people further into poverty.”

JA! works directly with community members in the gas region who are putting their lives on the line. At the same time, it is up to the international partners, who lobby against industry players in the countries where they are based, to amplify the voices of those people suffering on the international stage.

These are voices of people who have been displaced by TotalEnergies to build their Afungi LNG Park that will hold support facilities for offshore gas extraction. At least 550 fishing and farming families were displaced to a village many miles from the sea. They have lost their farmland, and hence their entire livelihoods, and are now living off erratic aid.

The industry has been fueling a war that has been raging for six years, and has already displaced over one million people. This war between insurgents, private security and the militaries of Mozambique, Rwanda and other countries only began when the gas companies became present in the area.

Media and civil society are oppressed in the country, and many who speak out face legal repercussions or worse. One activist that JA! worked with disappeared after raising their voice at a community meeting, and several journalists have been missing for years. This makes resistance inside the country very difficult, and just speaking truth to power or writing an article raising problems with the gas industry is a revolutionary act.

People have lived in fear of both insurgents and the military, who have often extorted families for their compensation money. Many women in communities have faced or been threatened with sexual assault.

At an environmental level, the industry will irreversibly destroy the Quirimbas Archipelago, a UNESCO Biosphere, home to many endangered species of animals and plants. And the carbon emissions for just the construction of one LNG train in the park will increase the greenhouse gas emissions of Mozambique by up to 14 percent.

International pressure builds despite challenges

There are several ways in which international partners amplify the voices of these Mozambican communities.

One approach is through what the campaign calls “industry confrontation.”

Partners from Europe and the U.S. — and where possible, JA! members — attend shareholder meetings to disrupt them, hold actions and publicly ask difficult questions.

In 2021, Friends of the Earth France helped to shut down the TotalEnergies shareholder meeting in Paris by blocking the entrance and forcing the company to move the meeting online. Meanwhile, at COP26, activists disrupted an Eni event by standing up and playing a voice recording of a Mozambican activist.

The campaign has also worked with other campaigns like Shell Must Fall!, Don’t Gas Africa and Collapse Total, which also fight the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, and the Fair Finance Southern Africa Coalition.

Partners in different countries use different strategies depending on the specific involvement of that country, each adding a different element to the campaign.

For example, in the U.S., where government agencies like the U.S. ExportImport Bank are also funding Mozambique LNG, with $4.7 billion in public funds, Friends of the Earth U.S. has been filing complaints with the bank’s accountability mechanism. Other international funders like the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, African Development Bank and Japanese government financiers have also been targets of complaints.

“The U.S. is an international leader whether we like it or not,” said Kate de Angelis from Friends of the Earth U.S. “So if we are able to convince the U.S. to stop overseas finance for fossil fuels, it makes it much more likely that Japan and other countries will follow.”

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland took the U.K. government to court in 2020 for a judicial review of its financing of the Mozambique LNG project with $1.15 billion.

Even though the Supreme Court rejected the legal challenge, “the case has been highly significant,” said Rachel Kennerley from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “It posed critical questions for the government over its responsibility to now act in accordance with the Paris Agreement and increased the legal risk around projects like Mozambique LNG.”

Knowledge creation is another important part of the campaign.

Previously, JA! and its partners created a report about funding for Mozambique gas from Export Credit Agencies, which are government agencies that use public money to finance projects abroad. And this month saw the release of a Solutions for our Climate report about Korea’s role in Mozambique LNG, along with a Columbia University report commissioned by JA! and a number of campaign partners on Investor State Dispute Settlements. JA! also published a joint report with the Fair Finance Coalition about South African government financing of Mozambique gas.

In the near future, JA! will be releasing a report with novel research on the complicity of consulting firms in the devastation caused by Mozambique gas.

The campaign has also undertaken creative methods of resistance. In 2020, in collaboration with climate activists from around the world, they did a series of “adhacks” in Portugal, France and the Netherlands, where they pasted fake advertisements for Shell and Portuguese fossil fuel company Galp, on bus stops around the cities. Similarly, in London during the same year, the campaign collaborated with Platform London to paste images on billboards against HSBC, one of the biggest financiers of Mozambique gas.

In 2021, during COP26, activists projected messages on the outside of the SEC building in Glasgow where the meeting was being held. The next year, at a Shell annual general meeting in the Hague, activists placed a wrecking ball outside of the building; and in Denmark, protesters blocked Total petrol stations for several days. The campaign has also produced comic books, short films and music videos.

But with a campaign fighting a major industry, challenges will naturally arise.

“The difficulty is that we are not just fighting fossil fuel companies, we are fighting an entire global system where wealthy capitalists, mostly from the Global North, exploit the poor for fossil fuels which are destroying the climate,” Lemos said.

De Angelis says that there are challenges specific to different governments. In the U.S. for example, “The impacts on local communities and local environment are often very quick to be dismissed or completely ignored no matter what the evidence,” she said. “Japan has also been a major hindrance as it has a very conservative government that has refused to stop supporting fossil fuels and is openly hostile to impacted communities.”

Another challenge is the danger and difficulty of field work for JA!. 

The war has meant that for most of the last five years the gas region has been closed to non-residents, journalists and most NGOs unless they received government permission and were chaperoned by the military.

JA! has an employee based in a community in this region, who works directly with people who live there. But they have been terrified to speak out about their suffering, for fear of reprisal from the government or the military.

‘A lot has changed’

But the campaign has seen the impact of its work along the way. In one community in Cabo Delgado, when women’s presence was required for legitimacy of the industry’s so-called consultation meetings, women refused to attend. In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Finance held an independent evaluation of the government’s financing agreement with the Mozambique LNG project of $800 million, following the campaign’s lobbying. This brought major public and parliamentary attention to the usage of public funds for a destructive project.

Affected community members, while devastated, have felt supported by the campaign. “For us, since JA! started working here in Palma, a lot has changed,” Arabe Nchamo said. “We complained to the white people about not having transport to the beach, and after JA! talked to them, we have transport, tricycles and bicycles. We are grateful. We complained about the new farmland being far away, and JA! worked hard until we managed to get the company to give us transport from the farms to the houses.”

Lemos says that the campaign’s plans now are to continue its work as a watchdog in the gas region, monitoring and publicizing human rights and environmental violations and amplifying voices of affected communities at international platforms. This is done, for example, through meetings with the European Union, United Nations officials, shareholder meetings, in-person meetings with financiers and relevant states, and continuing in-depth research. It will also emphasize the fact that these fossil fuel companies’ actions in Mozambique show how blatantly they are moving away from any chance of a just transition to renewable energy.

TotalEnergies’ Mozambique LNG Project has been on pause since 2021, after a major insurgent attack in the region. But the construction of its park may restart very soon. This has created a window of opportunity for financiers to reassess their funding of the project. And the campaign is putting serious pressure on these players, reminding them that were they to finance this destructive project, they would be complicit in its impacts.

“The Mozambique LNG project is a good example of the colonial nature of a lot of fossil fuel investments,” Kennerley said. “Stopping Mozambique LNG and the gas industry across the country is extremely important because Mozambique is already on the front line of the climate crisis. Its people are already vulnerable to extreme weather and aren’t being served by the current energy system, which has not delivered energy access.”

First published by –

For more details reach Anabela Lemos / JA!

WERWONA celebrates one-year robust advocacy; vows to enhance women’s rights in western Liberia and beyond

WERWONA celebrates one-year robust advocacy; vows to enhance women’s rights in western Liberia and beyond

Members of the Western Region Women Network Association (WERWONA) Tuesday, December 5, 2023, celebrated one year of robust advocacy since their establishment by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) under the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA 2.0) Forest for a just future program.

Established formally a year ago, WERWONA is a conglomeration of over sixty women organizations from Gbarpolu, Bomi, and Grand Cape Mount counties with the overall objective of ensuring women, young girls, and children in the region’s rights are respected and issues affecting them are resolved more holistically.

The celebration was done by organizing a two-day regional annual learning and experience sharing events with women groups engaged in land and human rights advocacy in Tubmanburg, Bomi County from December 4-5, 2023 under the theme: increasing women’s voices through information sharing.

Since its establishment, the organization has prided itself on several achievements over its one year. Noticeable of its achievements are: formal recognition of the organization by the national government, local county officials, and international partners; strong social cohesion and strengthened relationships within member organizations within WERWONA; legalization of the organization through the completion of its articles of incorporation, business registration, and bank account respectively.

Despite these achievements, WERWONA believes there is a huge gap regarding women and young girls’ participation in decision-making on land and other natural resources issues in the region. 

The annual meeting was attended by local county authorities, and women from the various counties in the region, among others.

Speaking at the gathering, Madam Mary G. Varney, Rural Women President of Bomi County said “Let’s put our feet on the ground and know that it’s time for us to work. If you have not been working, it’s time for us to work. SDI, we say thank you for encouraging our women to come and take part in this activity.” 

Daniel H. Wilson, a Social Worker at the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection based in Bomi County said “When it comes to gender, there is a huge equality gap and this session is very important. The issue of women’s rights is not one person’s business. There is a need for women to rise up and be bold. Our offices will remain open to support this women’s organization.” 

Also speaking, the District Commissioner of Senjeh District, Madam Maima Free-Freeman said “We have come to say thank you to our powerful women.  We need unity among women if we must hold together. We need to put aside petty jealousy. Furthermore, we need to change our attitude and speeches so we can make big things to happen. We need to stand for a cause and achieve big things as women in the western region.” 

The Bomi County Coordinator of WERWONA, Madam Jereline Mambu said “Thank you for positively impacting our lives and this will go a long way in making our organization and the region powerful.”

Madam Lydia Ballah, Regional Coordinator of WERWONA recounted that “It was not easy from the very beginning, but it was worthy. But we say many thanks to the SDI for reaching us this far. We want to go national and international, elevating our activities as WERWONA. We pray that other women will join, and we will stand together as women.”

Read more here

SDI engages mining communities in western Liberia on just energy transition

SDI engages mining communities in western Liberia on just energy transition

To document mining concessions about the protection of the environment and the rights of local communities in western Liberia, the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in late 2023 engaged mining communities in Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties on the Just Energy Transition (JET) project. 

The JET is a thematic program within the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA 2.0) Forest for a Just Future. It connects local communities to global levels for struggles to address climate change by supporting a Just Energy Transition. It aims at addressing issues and approaches that are responsible for human rights violations, pollution, climate change, and deforestation in the current fossil energy framework, as well as prevent as many as possible similar injustices from being repeated within the Renewable Energy (RE) transition framework.

In Liberia, the SDI is promoting climate justice by collaborating with partners and allies to ensure an inclusive, Just Energy Transition in the country.  The JET project is implemented in six of Liberia’s 15 counties. They include: Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Kru, Sinoe, and Maryland Counties respectively. As part of the implementation, the SDI from December 1-4, 2023 carried on a community engagement in Kinjor. In this gold mining community, Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC) operates in Grand Cape Mount County and Zelekai, a community in Bomi County where Western Clusters Liberia Limited is extracting iron ore.

Madam Angie Y. Fissibue, Lead Facilitator of the JET Project at the Sustainable Development Institute, said the overall goal of the engagements in the two counties was for women, youths, and other community members to understand the JET clearly. It was also intended to know the total number of large-scale mining concessions in the two counties and the types of minerals being manned by these concessions companies. Madam Fissibue further said the mapping was to document environmental, social, and economic impacts that are associated with the operations of these concessions and how these companies are working with the host communities in mitigating these issues.

Stakeholders considered during the engagement meetings included local leaders, women, youth leaders, and workers’ unions, among other citizens. They include Town, Clan, paramount chiefs, women and youth leaders, and commissioners, respectively. 

Speaking to a cross-section of citizens during a town hall meeting, they lamented that despite the presence of these companies in their communities, they have yet to benefit from them amid environmental and other social harms associated with the operations of the companies.

“The school is not to standard and the women have to send their children to Monrovia for schooling.  We want these companies to start providing livelihood activities for us, especially the youth and women. The operation of Bea Mountain Mining Corporation is affecting our communities and our resources are extracted daily from our land/forest,” the citizens said.

Kinjor and Larjor were combined during the relocation and now have an estimated population of over 17,000 due to the mining operations of BMMC. But the aggrieved citizens said “Yes, even the illicit mining we used to do, we’re not doing it again, no farming, hunting, and other activities. We’re suffering.”

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ERA/FoEN urges FG to hold Shell accountable for environmental crimes before divesting

ERA/FoEN urges FG to hold Shell accountable for environmental crimes before divesting

The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the Nigerian government to put the brakes on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) divestment plans and ensure it pays for its environmental crimes in the Niger Delta.

This demand was informed by SPDC’s plans to sell its onshore facilities to a conglomerate of five domestic oil companies.

Shell was the pioneer of Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration since the 1930s, with hundreds of oil spills traced to its operations in host communities that continue to suffer the consequences of pollution to their environment, health, and livelihood.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Barr. Chima Williams faulted Shell for trying to run away from its crimes even with the uproar that has greeted its divestment plans in affected communities and among civil society organizations.

“As an organization that has tracked the activities of multinational oil companies for decades, we insist that the decision of Shell to sell off its onshore facilities to domestic companies and to remain in Nigeria to conduct its business offshore is a deliberate attempt to evade the liabilities the company has incurred over time. “

He also pointed out that Shell should not be allowed to abandon its onshore facilities to domestic companies without cleaning up the damage they have caused to the environment, and the cost to locals who have been impoverished by their business activities.

“These communities who have played host to Shell for decades have been left in abject poverty, with several degrees of damages to their health and environment, while Shell explores their resources to enrich foreign coffers. Shell should not be allowed to sell off its facilities and abandon the liabilities they owe these communities.”

Williams said it would be shameful that the Nigerian government would value its quest for revenue, over the lives and livelihoods of the common people who have suffered from the decades-long environmental pollution caused by Shell.

He called on President Bola Tinubu-led administration to ensure that Shell’s divestment plans are accompanied by full remediation plans in their various communities of operations and full payments of loss and damages to host communities.

He also called for a close evaluation and monitoring of Shell’s offshore operations to checkmate the scope of their activities in order to avert any impending damages to the environment.