Although Chad is rich in oil, its population remains one of the poorest in the world. SWISSAID is supporting several civil society organisations in this Central African country in their efforts to improve the distribution of income in this sector and in their advocacy work on behalf of young people and women.
This project aims to develop capacity building actions for Grassroots Organisations (GROs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) specialised in the extractive industries to become involved in decision-making and management of oil revenues at the local, provincial and national levels. It also aims to improve compensation and indemnification mechanisms for the population and to better integrate youth and women as full beneficiaries.
Black gold flows beneath the soil of Chad, yet its people hardly benefit from it. In fact, despite the exploitation of this wealth over the past fifteen years, the country has been stagnating at the bottom of the global Human Development Index: it ranked 186th out of 189 in 2010. Nine years later, it has even dropped one place. Poverty, failing health and education systems, as well as unsecured access to water: there are many challenges.
SWISSAID has been active in Chad since 1965 and currently supports six partner projects there, including one in the extractive industries. The aim is to ensure that oil revenues are used to improve the daily lives of Chadians, especially those living close to production areas in rural areas.
In concrete terms, SWISSAID is supporting four* local organisations and networks that are working for a better distribution and use of oil revenues in Eastern Logone, Western Logone and Mandoul.
One of SWISSAID’s objectives in Chad is that oil revenues should improve the daily lives of Chadians, especially those living close to production areas in rural areas.
Pipelines in the midst of misery
So far, “it is mainly the large urban centres and sparsely populated regions that have benefited little from the sector’s spin-offs,” explains Diamnda Merci Memhodjim, program officer for civil society capacity building and local fundraising. It is in these areas that a few schools and health clinics have sprung up, while people living near oil production sites have been hit by pipelines, power lines, and open quarries where rainwater and malaria-carrying mosquitoes accumulate.
Another drawback was the opacity of the compensation and indemnification paid by oil companies to local communities. In the field, there is a lack of equity in their distribution, particularly between men and women.
Inhabitants near oil production sites were hit by pipelines, power lines and open quarries where rainwater and malaria-carrying mosquitoes accumulate.
Through this project, SWISSAID is working to support these organisations in their work for the benefit of the local communities. Our partners are working hard to harmonise compensation and to promote the sustainable use of compensation. Special attention is paid to women “because we know that they will reinvest the money they receive for the benefit of the family,” says Maxime Nadjirambaye Nelngar, Senior Programme Officer, Advocacy, Extractive Industries and Support to Civil Society in Chad.
Advocacy and radio broadcasts
How do these organisations act concretely in the field? By accompanying local populations, sometimes poorly educated, in their advocacy work against oil companies and by denouncing bad practices. But also by organising initiations to the implementation of small agricultural projects financed by black gold revenues, by meeting with families and traditional chiefs to explain to them the crucial role of women and youth in local development, through “educational talks” or by participating in radio programs on women’s initiatives and achievements.
Incomes and rights
For Marc Ummel, Programme Officer Raw Materials at SWISSAID, “This project is particularly interesting because it promotes a better redistribution of oil windfall and supports local residents in defending their rights against multinationals.
Together with our long-standing investment in Chad’s small farmers, this project can help to improve the daily lives of the population. And put an end to the painful “curse of raw materials”.
*Entente des Populations de la Zone Pétrolière (EPOZOP – Alliance of the Inhabitants of the Oil Fields Development Area); Association des Jeunes Tchadiens de la Zone Pétrolière (AJTZP – Association of Young Chadians of the Petroleum Zone); Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile (ROSOC – Civil Society Organisations Network) ; Chadian coalition « Publiez Ce que Vous Payez – Publiez Ce que Vous Gagnez » (PCQVP-PCQVG – Publish What You Pay – Publish What You Earn).