Meet: Diana Nabiruma

Diana Nabiruma is a Ugandan communications expert and environmental defender who leads campaigns to fight environmental destruction and human rights abuses in Uganda. Diana works as a Senior Programme and Communications Officer at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a non-profit that has been an important partner of IUCN NL for many years.

Diana obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Journalism and Communication from Makerere University. After her graduation, she worked as a journalist for The Observer, mainly advocating for the improvement of the livelihoods of Ugandans and the conservation of nature.  After working with The Observer, Diana joined AFIEGO.

Diana is a passionate women rights advocate. She also campaigns for a conducive civic space for environmental and human rights defenders in Uganda and across Africa. She started working for AFIEGO in 2015, and has worked together with IUCN NL since.

  • Partner NGO: AFIEGO
  • Country: Uganda
  • Main objective: To ensure that clean energy resources in the African Great Lakes region are utilised in a way that promotes equitable development, environmental conservation and respect for human rights.
  • Works with IUCN NL since 2010

Humanity’s life source

Diana is passionate about protecting nature and the many benefits and essential services it offers to people. ‘Nature is humanity’s life source. In today’s world however, this seems to be forgotten. I long for a day where like our forefathers, we would understand how critical nature is to humanity’s survival, and we would do everything to conserve it,’ Diana explains.

‘I long for a day where like our forefathers, we would understand how critical nature is to humanity’s survival, and we would do everything to conserve it.’

– Diana Nabiruma

Oil and gas activities

‘Since I started working at AFIEGO, we have achieved a lot of successes with the support of IUCN NL,’ Diana says. ‘We have been able to influence policies and laws to protect the environment from the ongoing oil and gas activities in Uganda. An example of one such law is the 2019 National Environment Act,’ Diana explains.

Participation

With the support of IUCN NL, AFIEGO also strengthened the capacity of district and cultural leaders, CSOs, women and youth so they are better able to participate in impact assessment processes to protect the environment from oil risks and threats in Uganda. ‘District leaders, women and youth have given input into impact reports for oil projects in Uganda thanks to our efforts. Challenges remain however as the comments the stakeholders make are largely overlooked. We filed court cases in Uganda, which are still ongoing, to remedy this challenge,’ says Diana.

AFIEGO also supported community members, including women, to participate in public hearings about oil projects to protect the environment and community rights. ‘Normally, these people wouldn’t attend these hearings. But AFIEGO’s support enabled their voices to be heard,’ says Diana.

Lawsuit

In 2019 AFIEGO joined forces with allies at both local and international levels to file an international lawsuit against oil giant Total. Total is the lead developer for both the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and Tilenga oil projects, which threaten ecologically sensitive areas. Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park is such an area. With the adjoining Lake Albert, the Budongo forest reserve and Bugungu wildlife reserve, the park is home to unique wildlife and the livelihoods of many local communities depend on the broader Murchison landscape.

‘Ugandans largely depend on nature for their day-to-day survival. It is therefore critical that the many environmental resources that are at risk of degradation due to the oil activities in Uganda are protected. The lawsuit against Total in France is important for ensuring the integrity of Uganda’s protected areas,’ Diana says.

Local leadership

‘IUCN NL’s support for AFIEGO’s local leadership really helped us achieve these successes. In its support, IUCN NL offers opportunities for institutional growth so that partners are better able to do their work to protect the environment and human rights. They have also played a critical role in promoting a conducive civic space in Uganda,’ says Diana. 

Working towards conservation

In 2018, IUCN NL featured Diana in ‘The Faces of Conservation’, a celebration and recognition of her important role in promoting conservation in Uganda. Her motivation to protect nature and people still rings true today: ‘Nature plays such an important, irreplaceable role in our economy, society and climate. I want to realise a world in which communities, governments, businesses and other stakeholders appreciate this, and work towards conservation.’

Learn more about Diana’s and AFIEGO’s work?