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)