By Agbonkhese Oboh
—Rita Uwaka, Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Africa, FoEA’s forest and biodiversity programme, has declared that free, prior and informed consent, FPIC, is a right and not a privilege, as transnationals and governments across Africa seem to view it.

FPIC is an internationally-recognised principle stipulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP, and other human rights instruments, which is designed to ensure respect for a peoples’ decision concerning a project that can affect them.

Uwaka told newsmen at FoEA’s regional exchange programme on FPIC in Lagos that resource grab by transnationals approved by government have continued to invade communities from urban to rural areas across the continent.

In a statement, she said: “These large scale profit-driven projects are mostly executed without the opportunity for communities who play host to the resource to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent, FPIC, before the commencement of extractive industry projects.

“This leads to social and environmental impacts for communities, with differentiated consequences on women and vulnerable groups. Large scale resource extraction is posing great danger to the lives and survival of community people in Africa.

“It is primarily the responsibility of government to ensure that development plans and extractive resource or infrastructure development projects or policy decisions have the free, prior and informed consent of community people.”

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