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Updated to: 30 September 2013Download as PDF
Country contact on EIA
National Environment Management Authority
NEMA House, Plot 17/19/21 Jinja Road, P.O. Box 22255
History of EIA
EIA practice was legislated in Uganda for the first time in the 1995 National Environment Statute, now the National Environment Act (NEA Cap 153). The law requires compulsory EIA for activities that can significantly affect the use of natural resources. The Act passed in parliament and was assented to by the President in May 1995. Although EIAs were required from 1995 onwards, the Act was not fully implemented until 1998 when the regulations for EIA were passed. These regulations detail the EIA process and the roles of various stakeholders. In 2003, The National Environmental Regulation (Conduct and Certification of Environmental Practitioners) was promulgated to provide a code of conduct for EIA practice and a system of EIA experts’ certification.
Mujuni, H. Environment Impact Assessment Legislation in Uganda; a paper presented at the IAIA Conference Seoul, Korea June 2007.
Year of introduction of EIA legislation
Legal framework for EIA
Year of introduction of enabling law
The National Environmental Act, Cap 153 (1995).
Approving authority of enabling law
Parliament and President. Presidential approval is required only after the parliament passes the law.
Year of introduction of first national detailed regulation for EIA
Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (1998).
Approving authority of first national detailed regulation for EIA
The EIA regulations were issued by the Minister that was responsible for the National Environmental Act 1995.
Recent updates and additions to the EIA legislation
- The National Environment (conduct and certification of environmental practitioners) regulations (2003) set minimum standards and criteria for qualification of EIA practitioners.
- The National Environment (wetlands, riverbanks and lakeshores management) Regulations (2000) require permits to be obtained and EIA to be undertaken before undertaking any activities in wetlands, lakeshores and riverbanks.
- The Environmental Audit Regulations (2006) specify the auditing procedure.
The EIA regulations and the environmental law are currently being revised (in 2013).
Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA
References to EIA are made in sectoral policies such as those related to forest, mining, fisheries, energy and petroleum requiring EIA application to certain projects in that sector. NEMA has EIA guidelines in preparation for mining, forestry, fisheries, energy, agriculture, urban planning and infratructure, that were expected to be ready in 2010. Separate guidelines on EIA for water and roads are in preparation by the responsible sectoral agencies.
Environmental Impact Assessment Public Hearing Guidelines (1999) issued by NEMA.
Objective of EIA
To contribute to sound environmental management, environmental planning, ecosystem conservation, sustainable resource consumption and environmental awareness and community participation.
Scope of EIA application
All activities: public, private, national and foreign, that are listed under the third schedule of National Environment Act, 1995.
Exemptions from EIA application
Exemptions are allowed under certain conditions, e.g. in case of emergency response to a disaster, NEMA can allow a direct response without first conducting an EIA for a project. This is possible under the National Environmental Act. The EIA guidelines under preparation will state which projects do not require EIA.
Waiza Ayazika, NEMA, 2009
Institutional setting for EIA
Central EIA authority
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is the central EIA authority in Uganda. NEMA is responsible for the review of all EIAs and the issuance of EIA guidelines.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in EIA, and their roles
Any ministry, government department, state corporation, local government or public stakeholder consulted during the EIA procedure for its opinion on the project brief, the ToR and the EIA report. Certified and registered consultants have to be engaged to undertake an EIA.
The EIA regulations further provide for a Technical Committee on Environmental Impact Assessment which shall advise the Board and the Executive Director on technical issues relating to the carrying out of environmental impact assessments.
Mandate for exemption of EIA obligation
Exemptions are allowed under certain conditions, e.g. in case of emergency response to a disaster, NEMA can allow a direct response without first conducting an EIA for a project. This is possible under the National Environmental Act.
(De)centralisation of EIA mandates
In Uganda, decision-making regarding EIA partly also takes place at the local level. In general, decision-making falls under the responsibility of the executive director of NEMA at national level. Nevertheless, before taking the decisions, local authorities are consulted for projects that fall within or across their boundaries. Moreover, screening decisions are taken by local authorities.
NCEA, 2011. Report on EIA Mapping in Uganda.
Overview EIA procedure
The EIA process in Uganda involves screening, scoping, assessment, review, decision-making process on the EIA approval and compliance monitoring (in Uganda referred to as environmental auditing). No light EIAs are required in Uganda; either the full EIA is conducted or the project is approved directly.
Milestone documents that result from the EIA process are the following: Policy Brief (screening), Terms of Reference (scoping), Certificate of EIA approval, environmental audit reports.
Only projects listed in the third schedule of the National Environment Cap 153 are subject to EIA. The list contains no minimum thresholds or location criteria. NEMA may also screen projects that are not listed in the third schedule but are likely to be out of character with the surroundings, and conclude that these are subject to EIA. The process begins with the proponent submitting a Project Brief to the Executive Director of NEMA for review. If the brief meets the prescribed requirements set in the EIA regulation, it is sent to the lead agency and any other relevant stakeholders for comments. The Executive Director, after review of the Project Brief and the comments from other stakeholders may issue a certificate of approval for the activity if:
1) no significant impacts are expected or;
2) sufficient mitigation measures are proposed.
In case the review of the Project Brief reveals that the proposed project is likely to have significant negative impacts for which no adequate mitigation measures are prescribed, then a detailed EIA is requested.
Screening requirement and authority
A formal screening decision is taken by NEMA.
Provision for sensitive areas
There are some provisions for activities within environmentally sensitive areas. Annex 3 of the EIA guidelines of 1997 lists the creation of national parks, game reserves, buffer zones and the establishment of wilderness areas as activities subject to a full EIA. Sensitive areas are also covered under those activities which are out of character with the surroundings. Additionally, the National Environment (wetlands, riverbanks and lakeshores management) Regulations, 2000, require permits and EIAs to be obtained before undertaking any activities in wetlands, lakeshores and riverbanks.
Contents of the starting document
A project brief is required, which should describe:
a) the nature of the project;
b) the projected area of land, air and water that may be affected;
c) activities to be undertaken during and after the development of the project;
d) the design of the project;
e) the materials that the project shall use, including both construction materials and inputs;
f) the possible product and by-products, including waste generation of the project;
g) the number of people that the project will employ, the economic and social benefits to the local community and the nation in general;
h) the environmental effect of the materials, methods, products and by-products of the project and how they will be mitigated (or eliminated); and
i) any other matter which may be required by the NEMA.
NEMA gives the screening decision within 21 days.
The process involves the development of Terms of Reference for the EIA by the developer in consultation with NEMA and the lead agency. The ToR is reviewed by NEMA and the relevant lead agency. It has specific requirement stated under article 14 of the EIA regulation 1998. After review and acceptance of the ToR, the proponent is required to submit to the Executive Director of NEMA, for approval, the names of the consultants to conduct the EIA study. Methods of scoping are not given but it is provided that the proponent is required to ensure that the views of the public among other stakeholders are incorporated and considered.
Scoping is a formal step initiated by the proponent.
Contents of the scoping document
A Terms of Reference should be submitted, which in effect contains a scoping document. The required contents are listed under article 14 of the EIA regulation 1998. In summary these contents include:
- project description;
- site description;
- alternatives and reason for rejecting alternatives;
- material inputs & their potential effects;
- an economic analysis of the project;
- product and by products;
- knowledge gaps;
- methods of data collection; and
- names and qualitfications of the people who will do the study.
Waiswa Ayazika, NEMA 2009.
Assessment and reporting
Impact assessment is based on the ToR made during the scoping process. The proponent is responsible for the EIA report, which is supposed to be signed by all individuals who conducted the assessment. Other than ensuring that the public is involved, the EIA regulations do not prescribe other methods that can be used for assessment. Nevertheless, in preparing the EIA report, the regulation under its first schedule prescribes that the proponent should pay attention to;
(i) ecological issues (biological, sustainable use and ecosystem maintenance);
(ii) social consideration;
(iii) landscape; and
(iv) land use.
Economic analysis of the project is also required.
Contents of the EIA report
In addition to an executive summary, the EIA report should contain a description of:
a) the project;
b) the proposed site and reasons for rejecting alternative sites;
c) baseline condition of potentially affected environment;
d) material inputs and their potential impacts;
e) an economic analysis of the project;
f) technology and processes to be used, and alternative technologies and processes, and the reasons for not selecting them;
g) products and by-products of the project;
h) the environmental impact of the project (direct, indirect, cumulative, short-term and long-term effects and possible alternatives);
i) mitigation measures;
j) gaps in knowledge and uncertainties encountered in compiling the required information;
k) an indication of whether the environment of any other state is likely to be affected and the available mitigation measures; and
l) methods of data-collection.
The Executive Director is empowered to require other necessary information.
The Executive Director of NEMA is responsible. The review method is not prescribed. In terms of process, the proponent submits the EIA report to the Executive Director, who then sends it to the lead agency for comments. If the Executive Director deems the report complete upon receiving the comments of the lead agency, he first invites the public to give their written comments and then directly invites the persons likely to be affected by the project also to give their comments. After review of all the comments, the Executive Director decides (if there are contentious issues) whether to have a public hearing. Additionally, the Board of Directors of NEMA may, upon the advice of the Executive Director, enlist the Technical Committee (a standing committee established by law), to advise in reviewing certain EIA reports.
Relevant ministries and governmental agencies (lead agencies) and the public are involved in the review process. The Executive Director may also form a Technical Committee that comprises experts from different disciplines to advise on the decision of certain EIA reports.
NEMA has 30 days to provide feedback on the EIA report.
EIA regulation 1998 article 18 (2), 19 (1), 19 (4), 20 (4), and 22 (2)
Integration of EIA into decision-making
The approval of the EIA report automatically implies that an certificate of approval of the project will be awarded. Such a certificate of approval is required before any licensing authority issues a license for an activity. The EIA approval is thus separate from licenses/ permits for commencement of projects which are under the responsibility of different authorities. In some situations, NEMA also issues separate licenses, e.g. on wetlands, and on hazardous waste.
Executive Director of NEMA
Decisions are justified. For example, it is required that if the proposed project is rejected, the reasons for rejection should be communicated to the proponent in writing.
EIA regulation 1998, article 27 (1)
The decision is not required to be published to the public but any member of the public may request access to the record of the decision.
Within 180 days from the submission of the EIA, NEMA has to make a decision.
EIA regulations 1998 article 27 (2)
Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement
Monitoring is a requirement both for the state of the environment during the operation of the activity and for compliance with the conditions of approval.
The proponent is required to undertake an initial environmental audit (by a specified date, which is between 12 to 36 months after commencement of the project) carried out by persons whose names and qualifications have been approved by the Executive Director of NEMA. Subsequently, the Executive Director may require other audits at any other time. After each audit, an environmental audit report shall be prepared by the developer and submitted to the Executive Director.
The Environmental Audit Regulations (2006) specify the auditing requirements. They are accessable on the website of NEMA.
EIA Regulation, 1998, Article 31
There are possibilities for external monitoring. Inspectors, "gazetted" by NEMA, may conduct inspections at any time. In addition inspection can be undertaken by lead agencies for areas under their juridiction. The public may, after showing reasonable cause, request that an environmental audit be carried out.
The Executive Director may cancel the certificate of approval when: there is no compliance with the conditions of the certificate, there is a substantial modification of the activity during implementation, where these is a substantive undesirable effect not in the approval. Where the proponent fails to implement the mitigation measures, an inspector may issue a notice of improvement, to order a cessation of the activity unless improvement is realised. The Environmental Act of 1995 states that any person who fails to submit a project brief, or an EIA report or who gives a false statement in the EIA process is liable to an offence and if prosecuted may be imprisoned for 18 months and fined between 180,000 and 18,000,000 UGX or both (1USD=2000UGX).
Environmnental Statutes of 1995
Monitoring is a requirement for the state of the environment during the operation of the activity.
The proponent is required to pay fees to process the project briefs and for EIA to NEMA. These fees depend on the total cost of the project and are prescribed under schedule three of the EIA regulations 1998. For example, 250,000UGX is required for projects with value of less than 50,000,000 UGX. Where the total value of the project is more than 5,000,000,000 the amount payable is 0.1% of the total value (1USD=2000UGX)
EIA regulations 1998 Schedule three
Public participation requirements for EIA process stages
There are provisions for public participation. The public can participate during the stages of EIA study and EIA report review.
Public participation arrangements
The EIA regulations require the proponent to take all necessary measures to seek the view of affected people during the assessment stage.
During the review phase of the EIS, the Executive Director can request that a public hearing should be held by the lead agency. The lead agency shall present the results and recommendations of the public hearing in the form of a report to the Executive Director. Any interested or affected person can request to partake in the hearing.
Public participation guidance
NEMA issued an Environmental Impact Assessment Public Hearing Guidelines, in 1999.
Costs for public
The public has to pay to obtain a summary/report of the public hearing and to obtain a copy of the EIA report, although copies should also be available at a local library at no cost. On occassion, digital copies are provided upon request.
Both oral and written comments can be given. Comments on the EIA report are submitted in writing while during a public hearing formal presentations (written) and informal presentation (verbal) may be given to the NEMA presiding officer.
Public comments in decision-making
The Executive Director is required to take into account the written comments on the EIA report and all comments made in a public hearing. When a project is approved, it is not required to specifically address the public comments in the decision statement. When a project is rejected, public comments that have contributed to the rejection may be mentioned.
Waiswa Ayazika, NEMA, 2009.
Timeline for public comments
The general public has 28 days to write and submit comments on the EIA report. The affected people that the minister of environment directly invites to write and submit comments have an additional 21 days. If a public hearing is held, a further period of about 45 days is required.
EIA regulation 1998 article 18 (2), 19 (1), 19 (4), and 20 (4)
Access to information
All documents (including the Project Brief and all advices and comments) submitted to the Executive Director are public, and should be available to the public on request.
EIA regulation part 1998 IV
The invitation to the general public to submit their comments is published in a newspaper with national or local circulation. the invitation for the persons who are most likely to be affected is made in a newspaper with local circulation in the area where the activity will be located, in other mass media and through the distribution of the information through lower governments, in the languages understood by the majority of the affected people. A public hearing is advertised through radio and print media in the locality of the project and through a national newspaper and radio. If a public hearing is held, multiple sessions may be organized at multiple locations. At least one session should be held in the community located nearest to the site of the proposed project.
EIA Regulation, 1998
Possibilities for appeal
Appeals can be made to the high court
EIA regulation 1998
Decisions that can be appealed
Appeals can be made against any decision of the Executive Director
Who can appeal
Any aggrieved person or institution has the right to make an appeal
Annual no. of EIAs
460 EIAs had be done in Uganda in 2010.
Central EIA database
NEMA keeps a list of all EIAs submitted to the Executive Director, the names of proponents and their contacts. Where approval was granted, the conditions of approval are also entered into the database. The database also contains the projects which were rejected and the reasons for their rejection.
- Ecaat, J. A review of the application of environmental impact assessment in Uganda; a report prepared for the United Nations Economic commission for Africa, 2004.
- Economic commission for Africa. Review of the EIA application in selected African countries, 2005.
- Wabunoha, R.A. & Bugaari, H.K.The success of implementing the policies and laws on environmental impact assessment in Uganda; A case study on use of EIA to control the water hyacinth weed in the water bodies of Uganda (undated).
- Ntambrweki, J. Environmental legislation as a tool for sustainable development; the case of Uganda, (undated)
- Mujuni, H. Environment Impact Assessment Legislation in Uganda; a paper presented at the IAIA Conference Seoul, Korea June 2007. This paper reviews the EIA legislation in Uganda, coordination with other legislation, duration of the EIA process, public participation and political interference and capacity of government departments to implement EIA legislation.
Accreditation of consultants
There is an accreditation system, and minimum standards and criteria for qualification of EIA practitioners are laid down in the National Environment Regulations (Conduct and Certification of Environmental Practitioners), 2003. On the website of NEMA a list of registered and certified environmental practitioners in Uganda (2011) is provided.
- Uganda Association for Impact Assessment: professionals involved in EIA need to be a memebr of this association. Aministration and certification of EIA consultants is provided an by an independent committee on registration of environmental practitioners. This committee has its secreatriat within NEMA.
- Eastern Africa Association of Impact Assessment (EAAIA) was formed to enable the Eastern Africa region to establish a well-managed database that acts a as: a source of EA information, a mechanism for exchange and sharing of knowledge, information and experience on EA policies and practice; support maximization on the use of available resources in the region. Uganda is a member.
- East African Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE): Regional network of governmental agencies which have in their mandate environmental management, compliance and enforcement responsibilities in the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
Non-governmental EIA guidance
- The USAID funded COBS Support Project (completed in 2002) resulted in the production of an EIA manual for public officials, and an EIA guideline for the wildlife sector.
- The NGO Greenwatch produced a Guide to EIA in Uganda in 2001.
Professional Development (PD) Fellowship Program for East and Southern Africa. Capacity Linkages for Environmental Assessment in Africa (CLEAA) works with various environmental assessment leaders nationally, regionally and globally, in partnership with IUCN East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), with financial support from Swedish International development Agency (SIDA) to promote and enhance Africa’s capacity in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), for better environmental governance and sustainable development.
The NCEA has conducted an EIA mapping exercise in Uganda in 2011. The workshop aimed to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the EIA system in Uganda.
Links to laws/regulation
- UNEP Overview of EIA laws and regulations in Uganda
- Environmental Laws on the Website of NEMA