THE IMPACTS OF OIL EXPLORATION IN TURKANA KENYA

- - BY MONICAH YATOR


Exploration projects activities in Turkana County. It’s mainly geared towards the extraction of oil deposits. The activity is undertaken for the economic development of a nation that is endowed with such deposits. In addition it is economic development which has created new opportunities for local communities and non locals. However, the exploration has also caused considerable disruption to pastoral livelihoods. The negative effects out ways the positives for example;  jobs, business opportunities, roads, schools, and health clinics to remote and previously impoverished areas. The benefits can, however, be unevenly shared and for some they may be poorly compensated for the loss of existing livelihoods and the damage to their environment and culture (Lane, 2001).

If communities feel they are being unfairly treated or inadequately compensated, exploration can lead to social tension and sometimes to violent conflict (Burns, 2004). With the dramatic decline in the costs of transporting bulk materials and the emergence of multinational companies as major players, mines can now be located far from where the ores are processed. At the same time, they have become larger and more technically complex, bringing a decrease in employment and an increase in the skill levels required of workers. In many countries, explorations have tended to become specialist enclaves, isolated from other sectors of the economy. The premier example of this is „fly-in, fly-out‟ operations based on long-distance commuting. This invariably means that the communities living nearby gain less in terms of jobs, business opportunities, and the multiplier effects (Burns, 2004).

 The exploration projects are designed to improve on the livelihood development of the communities residing in the marginalized areas where these exploration projects are based. Through exploration activities, it will help to improve the quality of life for marginalized people by providing them with access to health care, livelihood opportunity and protection thereby giving them hope to constructively contribute to their communities. At the local level, livelihood development is about meeting locally defined social, environmental, and economic goals over the long term. Interactions between the mine and community should add  to the physical, financial, human, and information resources available not detracting from them. The challenge is to ensure that the effect of interactions are regarded as positive by those affected locally as well as by the stakeholders of the projects, and that communities develop in ways that are consistent with their own vision. This may be realized through, for example, the provision of social services, income, or skills development. Enhancing community values presents a particular challenge, given the often intense social change brought about by mining and the potential influx of outsiders (Crosby, 2009).

Ideally, in as much as exploration projects are of great importance to the economic developments of a nation, it however poses grave dangers to human beings living around such areas of exploration. It exposes the communities to dangers associated with mining activities that might cause health problems to them due to emission of gases. Much of the environmental damage caused by explorations affects local communities, most significantly in terms of their livelihoods and health. Environmental health problems may become evident for not just close to the mine, but some distance away. Overburden, waste rock, tailings dams, buildings, roads, as well as immigration of population and increased human activity, all create considerable change in local environments. This may lead to loss of biological diversity, including plants and animals important to peoples‟ livelihoods, such as pasture for livestock. The changes may affect land used by indigenous people for grazing their livestock. Currently, environmental damage is rampant in exploration sites even with all the dangers that come with it. Extraction is perceived by mining stakeholders to be more convenient to them and sets to serve their needs at the expense of the local communities in such marginalized areas. The mining projects mostly emit gases and carry on extraction activities without much concern for the local people in surrounding. This poses a great danger as accidents are bound to happen. With all the risks involved with mining activities, the extraction companies continue to extract the mines without consulting with communities prior to the exploration giving first consideration to Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)

 

SHAPING DEVELOPMENT FUTURES:
An African Roundtable on Extractives, Mega Infrastructure and Women’s Right of Consent

- - BY MONICA YATOR

Extractives industries are central to the growing African economies as cited by most foreign direct investment in the continent   mining sector. Many governments believe that mining will lead to growth or development opportunities and perhaps catch up with other so called ‘developed’ countries. In reality, large scale mining is a curse to local economies especially in rural communities where they are adversely affected by the mining. Despite the anxiety that comes with large investments in rural areas it is contributing very little to improve the living conditions at the local level and instead the host communities face an array of impacts. The groups that represent the affected communities are hardly recognized therefore their bargaining takes place terms at times define by actors external to the community. It is important power during engagements with Corporation among the stakeholders in the sector is poor

To date in many Asian, Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa countries, women do not have rights to own and inherit land. Women are often considered mere “guardians,” holding land in trust for their sons. It is no coincidence that in these same countries, women are often viewed as minors by the legal system – they can’t make a contract, open a bank account, or take out a loan. Quoting  a young Maasai man in Kenya named James before he recognized women’s have equal rights to own and inherit land, “I thought of my sister as a stranger living temporarily in my home.” Women in much of Africa and Asia move to their husband’s village when they get married and because of this often have the status of “outsider,” both in their birth home and their marital home. Outsiders, naturally, have weaker claims to the tribe, community, or family’s most important assets: land. Strengthening women’s rights to land changes this. When women have rights to the most valuable asset in a community or household, they are seen as belonging and entitled.

A comprehensive incorporation of the costs of mineral-based development for women, children and rural communities is missing in Minerals and Africa’s Developments policies, which purports to be an updated strategic policy frame for developing Africa’s minerals, as called for in the Organization of African Unity’s 1980 Lagos Plan of Action. The 2008 African Union Conference of Ministers Responsible for Mineral Resources Development adopted the Africa Mining Vision. Despite the fact that:  rural communities are the most affected by mining and in global comparison, Africa have the highest rural population at 59.6 per cent of total population versus 51.8 per cent for Asia, 26.2 percent for Central America, and 16.7 per cent for South America; more than 60 per cent of employed women in Africa work in agriculture, an area of production which is seriously thwarted by mineral development; and women are crucial to socio-economic development in that the caring and other productive labour they perform is foundational to human survival 
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Monicah Yator is the Program Officer: Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya

No Excuse For Hunger, Death In Turkana

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY SANTETO OLE TIAMPATI

Kenya is among the community of nations that in 2000 committed to a blueprint acceded the world’s countries and the world’s leading development institutions to the realization of the eight (8) United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that range from halving extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.

The current horrifying reports of thousands of Turkana children skipping school due to escape hunger and over 5,000 Turkana pastoralist’s crossing over to Uganda in pursuit of their daily bread as well as souring rates of malnutrition must make every Kenyan curl with shame. It is common knowledge that indigenous peoples’ resident in the Kenya’s North live in alarming conditions of extreme poverty and marginalization despite the fact that next year (2015) Kenya is expected to have met its obligations under the MDGs especially halving extreme hunger and reducing child mortality. The obtaining reality puts this commitment by state into sharp perspective considering that the state has been submitting its progress reports to the United Nations regarding the implementation of MDGs.

The Kenyan Constitution under article 43 guarantees Kenyans economic and social rights which include the highest attainable standard of health as well as freedom form hunger and the right to adequate food of acceptable quality. The current situation in Turkana is in contravention of this constitutional prerogative and brings to sharp focus the inefficiency of the state in articulating pre-emptive measures to avert such crises as famines and drought.

Indeed, in the last government, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) was created whose main responsibilities are to develop and revise drought contingency plans, determine activities eligible for funding by the National Drought and Disaster Contingency Fund (NDDCF), approve drought contingency finance against the triggers in drought contingency plans, and ensures the accountable use of these funds by county and community-based drought management structures and to coordinate the implementation of all drought mitigation, emergency response, and recovery activities at national, county and community levels.

With the existence of the NDMA why did it have to take this long for the requisite interventions to be activated to address the first indications of drought in Turkana and elsewhere yet it is common knowledge with climate change droughts have become more frequent and most pastoralists counties are classified as high or medium risk areas? Did it have to get to crisis levels for the state agencies to react?

Indeed one of the contributing factors to poverty in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) is reactive as opposed to pre-emptive strategies which can be traced to the colonial era and the subsequent destruction of indigenous knowledge and interventions in the guise of modernization. From the colonial era, pastoralists and other indigenous communities’ narratives are replete with traumatic experiences with droughts, famines, and insecurity and healthcare interventions by the duty bearers. It is only a few years back when the face of a malnourished Turkana child was splashed globally as the face of Kenya’s hunger and destitution. The recurrent question therefore is: since droughts and famines are cyclical and therefore predictable; what measures have been put in place to ensure that no Kenyan succumbs to effects of hunger and drought? In fact, could mainstream development be regarded as one of the root causes of the myriad problems afflicting Kenya’s pastoralists and other marginalized communities?

One of the universal contributors to failed policies and projects is lack of community consultations and participation in designing and implementing policies and projects which directly affect their whole scope of lives. Indeed under article 56 of the constitution the state is obligated to put affirmative measures in place to ensure minorities and marginalized groups are represented in governance and other spheres of life and have reasonable access to water, health and infrastructure. To what extent has this been articulated in addressing decision making at drought and crises management and intervention levels?

Turkana is on the trajectory to becoming the largest contributor to the exchequer following the recent discovery of massive oil and water reserves. It is however ironic that, the resident communities are the prime victims of the vagaries of drought and famine. This goes to confirm the perception that in Kenya; communities within areas endowed with natural resources form the first casualties of poverty, development aggression, environmental destruction and takeover of territories with subsequent destruction of livelihoods and cultures as has been witnessed among indigenous peoples globally because of the lack of participation and consultations.

With this stark reality it will be interesting to see what kind of report the Kenya government shall present to the United Nations in 2015 on its achievement of the MDGs based on the reality on the ground especially in Kenya’s North where currently hunger is their daily bread and education remains a pipedream. The County governments should be strengthened and equipped to become the initial points of intervention in times of such calamities as droughts and famines.

No excuse for hunger

Santeto ole Tiampati is the National Coordinator: Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya

Pastoralists Must Resolve Conflicts

Decades long pastoralist conflicts and insecurity have had a devastating impact on the people, economy, development and environment. Pastoralist areas remain the least developed parts of Kenya. This is demonstrated by the glaring economic disparity compared with the rest of the country despite the fact that these areas host the country’s national livestock herd estimated to be worth 295.270 billion shillings according to a 2012 IGAD Livestock Policy Initiative study.

Combined with annual production of 552, 569, 224 litres of camel milk, 1,292, 844,288 litres of goat and sheep milk, 197 637,102,539 litres of cattle milk from semi-arid areas and 370,599,886 litres  from arid areas in addition to other products such as beef, mutton, hides, skins, butter, ghee, accessories (from hooves, bones and horns), leather wear, draught power, manure (estimated at  27.829 billion shillings) and employment at various stages, pastoralist economy contributes substantially to the national GDP which is the greater chunk of the 40% total livestock contribution.

However, despite the latent opportunities provided by livestock herds and the fact that these areas contribute immensely to the wildlife based tourism, mining and energy sectors, the persistent conflicts portray these lands as the theatre of slaughter, dispossessions and internal displacements which portend a major challenge to pastoralist county governors. Pastoralist conflicts and insecurity is further compounded by the porous nature of Kenya’s international borders and subsequent proliferation of an estimated 600,000 light weapons and small arms according to a Small Arms Survey Special Report of June 2012. The presence of Al Shabaab Terror group in Somalia, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and the Oromo Liberation Front in Ethiopia further complicates the situation.

This insecurity interrupts education, economic preoccupation and generally poses an obstacle for development. Beyond the physical effects, insecurity has negatively affected the inter-communal relations fuelling negative feelings and distrust towards neighbouring communities. This distrust decreases the motivation and the capability of the communities to choose a cooperative path which is a prerequisite for peaceful and effective resources sharing and reciprocity which should be addressed in a unified approach by the 14 pastoralist county governors.

Loss of human life, property, displacements of large segments of the communities, disruption of socio-economic activities and livelihoods, increased hatred between communities, environmental degradation and threat to water catchments areas, increased economic hardships as a result of loss of livelihoods, high levels of starvation and malnutrition among the displaced groups and unprecedented dependency syndrome on relief food are the main negative impacts of the increasing and severe inter-ethnic armed conflicts in Kenya’s pastoralist areas which requires concerted bilateral efforts by the national government, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Somali as well as affected county governors and senators.

Pastoralist county governments therefore have the herculean task of building synergies first as a team from affected counties to consolidate their efforts to prevent and mitigate violent conflicts by addressing each of the factors contributing to conflicts and insecurity and develop collective and effective actions to tackle the existing and emergent causes of conflict that target the actors who are mainly the youth.

By engaging directly with the pastoralist youth among the Turkana, Samburu, Pokot, Rendille, Gabbra, Borana, Somali among other communities involved and creating opportunities for other preoccupations through the Youth Enterprise Fund and Women Development Fund as well as other grants available both at the County and National levels, pastoralist governors can effectively undertake conflict prevention through the use of conflict prevention capacities of the communities involved and appeal for strengthened synergies between communities in order to take advantage of the benefits of peace which among others include development projects such as the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia transport corridor (LAPSSET) and tourism, mining, oil, gas, geothermal, wind and solar energy that are mainly targeting pastoralist counties. Pastoralists must resolve conflicts

Santeto Ole Tiampati is the National Coordinator of Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya

- See more at:Pastoralists must resolve conflicts

ABOUT PDNK

Pastoralist Development Network - of Kenya

We are an advocacy NGO established under a Trust deed number 791 DI 4453128 in 2003. The network is a conglomeration of 60 pastoralists’ individuals, NGOs and CBOs and non-pastoralist institutions and individuals supporting pastoralists’ development process in Kenya. It draws its membership from North Rift, South Rift, North Eastern and Upper Eastern regions of Kenya representing 14 pastoralist Counties. Its mission is to lobby for the inclusion of the pastoralist agenda in mainstream development with the vision of a prosperous pastoralist society.

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