Local Content Bill can protect Kenya against ‘resource curse’The official launch of the Local Content Bill, 2016 by members of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy on September 1, marked the culmination of a public demand for legislation to provide for local content in the extractive industry.
The Bill can simply be termed as the most significant piece of legislation touching on the extractive industry and especially the oil and gas sector that the current National Assembly will ever handle.
It is a Bill tailor-made to cushion the country against the infamous ‘resource curse’ – a term closely associated with African countries who despite immense natural resources like minerals and crude oil, suffer from poor economic growth and constant civil strife.
As a result, this breeds widespread corruption and poor governance which leads to the failure by the governments to build local capacities in terms of training, technology transfer and employment in the sector. This debacle leaves the country, however how rich it is in terms of natural resources, exploited and drained of its resources.
Avoiding the ‘resource curse’ was one of the key issues raised by the public in 2012 after the government announced that commercially viable oil had been discovered in Turkana.
If enacted, the Bill will provide for a framework for the development and adoption of local content in the upstream oil sector through ownership, control and financing of activities connected with the exploitation of gas, oil and other mineral resources by local persons and local enterprises.
It focuses on ensuring that the influx of the upstream oil and gas companies will lead to the development of local communities and people through the mandatory provision of employment, training and transfer of technology.
Further, the local economies are primed to benefit through the mandatory preference for local goods and supplies, development of local capacities in the sector and the overall stimulation of industrial development.
Among the key benefits to Kenyans will be the requirement that the players in the industry give first consideration to goods produced and services delivered locally as well as the requirement for granting of first priority to qualified local persons with respect to employment by the operator.
The Bill seeks to ensure that Kenya benefits from the natural resources by ensuring that there is constant employment, skills development and training of locals, technology transfer and preference for local contractors.
Through the requirement of succession plans, it guarantees that corporations in the industry will train Kenyans with the purpose of readying them for uptake of top positions of management in the future.
The Bill further ensures that in the future, local content requirements are actually fully implemented by creating the Local Content Training and Development Fund and requiring that the extractive industry players remit such percentage of their net revenues as will be determined by the government to the Fund for the purpose of training locals.
By MESHACK MBOYA
Written by By MACHARIA MUNENE
Adapted from AFRICA REVIEW
It was last year when Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki interrupted his own speech to make a major announcement.
After years of explorations, the East African country had finally struck oil around Lake Turkana, revealed the obviously excited president.
In the following months, more announcements were made, buoying the country’s spirits. And the rest of Eastern Africa is equally optimistic about recent oil and gas discoveries, posing new opportunities and challenges. These have also attracted external players to the region.
It is known that the region is full of strategic minerals that include gemstones, gold, iron, coal, diamond, tin, tantalum, titanium, and rare earth deposits. Most important, hydrocarbon resources of oil, coal, and natural gas in large quantities seem to dot every country. Subsequently, there are at least 18 extra-continental companies exploring off-shore oil and gas along Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Extra-continental powers, monitoring developments in Eastern Africa that can affect immediate and long term interests, have increased geopolitical competition for supremacy in the region. The Euro-powers used to have a monopoly of the knowledge of, and access to, natural resources in Eastern Africa and did little to develop them but this monopoly appears to have been shattered. Besides, the continued volatility of the traditional oil producing areas in the Middle East necessitates search for other sources of energy.
Eastern Africa is a growing alternative, aided by improved technology that has made it possible for many prospectors to detect and extract large deposits with relative ease. The increase in the number of players has intensified competition which leads to friction in the region.
China and India are among the external competitors that are interested in influencing the region and have had different effects. They are innovative in catering for their rapidly expanding economies whose appetite for oil and natural gas has fuelled demand for hydrocarbon resources. They represent growing Asian interest in the East African oil and natural gas because Eastern Africa is comparatively safer than the Middle East and cheaper than what Australia offers. This is a source of concern for Australia which sees East Africa as a threat to its natural gas market.
The Asian markets are not worried. China seems eager to destroy the myth of unprofitability by investing heavily in the region. In its effort to make Zambia a showcase of the Beijing consensus, it rehabilitated Zambian mines that the Euro-powers had closed supposedly because of their unprofitability, and still made profit. The attractive Chinese message in the region is that it can be done and this has, and will continue to have, a transformative effect on other extra-continental players.
China will continue to be a player where oil and natural gas are in plenty and where big companies are flocking to stake claims. Its CNOOC is among those showing interest along with Total, Heritage and Gas that was founded by British mercenary Tony Buckingham, Tullow Oil, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Canada’s Africa Oil Cooperation, ENI, Petrobras, and Anadarko.
The peoples of the region are excited and generally hope that the “discoveries” will mean a bright economic future. They, however, wonder whether they will be visited by the curse of oil that is evident in some areas. Among the positives associated with the discoveries of oil and natural gas is the “hope” that inspires dreams of a prosperous region.
There is oil in South Sudan, the subject of continuing dispute with the Republic of Sudan, which forces Juba to look for alternative outlets. Like Ethiopia, it has problems in accessing the sea which has led to close collaboration with Kenya to open up the “second corridor” that starts in Lamu on the Kenyan coast. This is both an economic and security lifeline that will lead to exploitation of more resources in the region. The prospects for the “corridor” stimulating the region economically are high.
Uganda also discovered commercial quantity oil in the Lake Albert area, bordering Eastern Congo, in 2006, but it has had problems producing oil. Uganda’s oil calculations have floundered and the prospects are not good given that its initial hope of becoming the regional supplier of oil is unlikely to materialise. Instead, the Lake Albert oil zone has become heavily militarised with President Yoweri Museveni’s son as the area commander. And among the operators is Heritage Oil and Gas Company which in 2007 triggered a border skirmish between Uganda and Congo, showing how sensitive the area is. In addition, Uganda has no technical and financial resources and its intended large market in Kenya has disappeared.
Prospects are better in Kenya which, strategically located to be the processor and marketer of the region, hopes to maintain position as the geopolitical hub of Eastern Africa. With its own discovery of commercial quantity oil in Turkana, natural gas along the Coast, and coal in Ukambani, Kenya is reluctant to be another country’s market. In this context, it seemingly is going out of its way to build the appropriate infrastructure in anticipation of the benefits to come. The joint effort with South Sudan and Ethiopia on the “second corridor” is the most visible.
Still, there are serious, mostly political and security related concerns about the possible impact of the resources and whether Kenya is adequately prepared. Since the attacks in Baragoi and Tana Delta do not fit the ordinary cattle rustling scenario and the assertions of separatism by the Mombasa Republican Council make little sense, questions arise as to whether there could be bigger forces in operation. Are these activities part of external efforts to create political uncertainty, weaken the Kenyan state, and ensure external control of hydrocarbon resources?
Like Kenya, Tanzania has secessionist challenges in Zanzibar, in the name of UAMSHO, with the potential availability of offshore natural gas as the catalyst. The amount of natural gas in Tanzania and neighbouring Mozambique is estimated to be about of 100 trillion cubic feet, and this has attracted many global players because it appears to be inexhaustible, especially as more is likely to be discovered. The companies and their staff, however, appear to live in a world that is different from that of Tanzanians and seem to enjoy extra-territoriality. This creates resentment and although Tanzania receives annual registration fees from every company supposedly to serve the people, the benefits do not appear to trickle down enough. While this is partly blamed on corruption, it is more a consequence of Tanzanians lacking capacity and not being prepared to tackle the rapidly expanding hydrocarbon industry. Such incapacity makes Tanzania vulnerable to external manipulation.
Intricacies of oil
The growing discoveries of oil and natural gas in different parts of Eastern Africa portends well for the region if the matter is well handled politically. This political handling is first within the region to reduce suspicion and enhance collaboration. The countries currently compete for dominance and therefore open themselves to external manipulation with one country pitted against the other. Given that the region is small as a market of what it produces, the chances are that they will compete to export which will give advantage to the external importers.
Second, it is also a matter of building capacity, which takes time. The actual production of oil or natural gas is years away and the countries will continue to rely on the goodwill of oil companies. The countries are actually in a situation similar to oil producing countries in the 1950s before they created OPEC. Even then, OPEC took almost a decade to learn the oil business before it could have an impact on determining oil production and marketing. Peoples in Eastern Africa know virtually nothing about oil and gas and will take time before they can master the political and technical intricacies of oil and natural gas control. But it can be done.
The discoveries of hydrocarbons in the region in large quantities will have positive effects. While acknowledging internal and external obstacles to be overcome, the prospects for prosperity are high and with the right capacity, the future is bright. The discoveries are instilling “hope” that a better economic future is possible. It is largely this hope that is stimulating infrastructural developments.
-ProfMunene is a Professor of History and International Relations, United States International University, Nairobi
Taken from the Daily Nation Kenya
Written by William A.Twayigize
By Edwin Cheserek
From STANDARD Digital
Oil prospect in Marakwet West District has sparked off controversy over land ownership among residents.
The community living on the land has turned down a request by British oil exploration Company Tullow to begin work.
Last year Tullow carried out an aerial survey and discovered there were prospects of oil deposits in Chesuman and Arror locations and requested to be allowed to access the area and prospect.
A section of residents and leaders want Tullow barred from accessing the area until a legal agreement over the land is signed while others who stake claim on the land want the firm to be allowed to carry out exploration of the oil to determine its commercial status.
Mr Juma Cherop, a resident, said though the residents are bound to benefit from the oil in future, community interest should be taken into consideration.
"The investor and leaders should first come up with solutions on the stalemate over issues such as land disputes before the investor is allowed to embark on the project,"he argued.
Arror county representative Christopher Kibor wants the community to be involved at all stages before the firm is allowed to start its operations to avert future controversies.
“The community is the stakeholder and it should be involved in the decision making because ignoring them will attract protests from the residents," he said.
He claimed that some individuals with vested interests had colluded with brokers to dispose the community land to the international oil firm without the consent of the people.
Mr Kibor however said the community was not opposed to the project but want issues like occupational hazards and employment opportunities to be discussed.
“We want an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be initiated so that emergency responses are put in place to mitigate disasters that may occur in the process of exploration, “he advised.
Marakwet MP William Kisang confirmed that there was stalemate between the community and the Tullow over the discovery of the oil but said the issues raised would soon be resolved.
“The company wanted the elders to append their signatures giving them temporary access to the area but they were denied until proper consultations were carried out between the parties involved,“ he disclosed.
The disputes in Marakwet have erupted months after similar controversies emerged in Kerio Valley.
Lack of title deeds for the land in Kerio Valley has complicated plans to prospect the oil with locals claiming stake to the communal land causing clan feuds.
Last week, leaders from the area convened a meeting with Tullow officials at Iten town where they discussed issues of compensation and other binding agreements.
They want the company to roll out among others corporate social responsibility like they have started doing in Turkana County where the company discovered oil.
Tullow, which is currently exploring oil in Ngamia area of Turkana County, is giving out scholarships through the provincial administration to students from poor families in areas where oil has been discovered.
Thirty one licences issued by the Mining Ministry have been revoked after Cabinet secretary Najib Balala said they were issued in unclear circumstances.
Mr Balala also suspended the Commissioner of Mines, Mr Moses Masibo.
He also named a taskforce to investigate over 500 licences given to mining companies since 2003 amid reports that some of the firms were dubious entities engaging in speculation and had no capacity to conduct commercial exploitation.
The taskforce chaired by Mr Mohammed Nyaoga will investigate the circumstances under which the licences were issued and the status of the companies which benefited.
Mr Balala told a press conference in his office that preliminary investigations indicated that only 20 out of the 500 companies were credible. All the others out to make super profits through speculation and hoarding of mineral resources while also benefiting from preferential treatment.
Among the companies likely to come into focus as the governments takes steps to streamline the mining sector, is Cortec which recently announced that there were deposits of niobium, a rare earth mineral worth over $100 billion in Kwale County.
Mr Balala said the announcement took the government by surprise as it did not have details of the find, and could, therefore, not vouch for the accuracy of the information.
He said a proposed Mining Bill, which has been forwarded to the Cabinet for approval, would require companies to first disclose such information to the government.
“Under the new law, we will require mining companies to notify the government within 21 days so that the government can verify the information to avoid companies engaging in speculation to make profits,” he said.
On Monday, the government admitted it was not aware of the activities of Cortec and the alleged mineral find in Kwale.
Mr Nyaoga’s taskforce was given 60 days to hand in its report, after which the government will decide which licences would be revoked and which would remain.
The focus will be on licences awarded between January and May, just after Parliament was dissolved.
Mr Balala wondered how the 31 licenses were issued yet the country was in transition.
“We have some that were issued even on Election Day and others on the day that I was sworn in,” he said.
He also announced that he would gazette new royalties and drilling charges under which mining companies will be required to pay a minimum of 10 per cent of their proceeds to the government as opposed to as low as 0.01 percent that some companies were currently paying.
“Last year, Magadi Soda Company for instance exported salt worth Sh16 billion and the government got only Sh 16 million in taxes,” he said.
Mr Balala also revoked the Export Processing Zone status of a company dealing in flouspar to stop the government from losing millions in royalties. EPZ companies are exempted from paying taxes for 10 years.
Written by IRIN/UNEP
Kibera Slum in Nairobi Kibera Slum in Nairobi unep
Adapted from IRIN/UNEP
NAIROBI, 11 July 2008 (IRIN) - Quality healthcare is a luxury often beyond the reach of those who live in Nairobi’s slums, such as mother-of-seven Grace Awour Opondo. "When you are sick you buy medicine from the local shops," Opondo told IRIN. "If you are lucky you recover because the medicine is not usually the right one."Sometimes there is no medicine even in the hospitals, so they send you out with a prescription," she said. "Then the chemists are expensive so often one has to make do without the medicine." According to Sakwa Mwangala, a programme manager with the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), the fact that people are squatting on government land often prevents them from accessing essential services. Slums are regarded as informal illegal settlements, which means they are underserved in terms of infrastructure development and access to basic amenities. "Government health facilities are also not easily accessible for most slum residents," said Mwangala, who heads AMREF's Kibera integrated healthcare programme. Kibera, on the southwestern edge of central Nairobi, is one of the largest and most densely populated slums in sub-Saharan Africa.
Most people operating health “facilities” in the slums are quacks, he said. “There is a lack of quality control, with the people in most of these clinics lacking skills." The urban poor fare worse than their rural counterparts on most health indicators, according to a report, Profiling the burden of disease on the residents of Nairobi slums prepared by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC). Pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and stillbirths account for more than half the deaths of children under-five, while HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, interpersonal violence injuries and road traffic accidents account for more than two-thirds of deaths among people aged five years and older, stated the report.
The poor health status of slum children is in part due to continuous exposure to environmental hazards coupled with a lack of basic amenities. "The chances of one becoming sick are high because of the poor sanitation; most of the houses are also poorly ventilated," according to Leonard Wawire, a teacher in the Mathare slum. "Here, there are no trees to clean the air; any plant growing is usually growing out of waste," Wawire said.
Eliya Zulu, APHRC’s director of research, told IRIN it was important to adopt a holistic approach to healthcare for the urban poor, one that focused as much on prevention – through improved nutrition and immunisation against major childhood diseases – as on treatment.
Grace Opondo, a resident of Mathare slums said that “Increasingly, most people in the urban areas are living in deplorable conditions yet it is generally assumed that the better hospitals and schools are in the urban areas,” Zulu said. When conducting general health surveys, urban areas tend to rank better than rural areas in terms of the health indicators. This, however, failed to bring into focus the health situation of the urban poor, he said. The problems of the urban poor have often been overlooked while rural areas are seen as more vulnerable to shocks. "In the rural set-up there is a sense of normalcy; you can have your toilet, the community also has a stream from which they draw their water - this is not the case in the slums," Mwangala of AMREF said.
Many deaths in the slums are caused by preventable and treatable conditions, according to the APHRC report; inadequate sanitation encourages the spread of skin and waterborne diseases.
In a bid to improve sanitation in Kibera, a Kenyan NGO, the Umande Trust, is running a project that not only provides quality toilets for residents but also transforms human waste into biogas and liquid fertiliser. Residents in areas such as Katwekera and Laini Saba in Kibera, pay two shillings (three US cents) to use the toilets and showers, according to Josiah Omotto of the Trust. For a subscription of 80 shillings ($1.19) a month, households get unlimited access to the facility. The buildings’ basements house bio-digester domes, which turn human waste into methane and liquid fertiliser. ''When you are sick you buy medicine from the local shops; if you are lucky you recover because the medicine is not usually the right one'' According to Omotto, these help reduce the local use of firewood. Already, he said, the methane from the facility in Laini Saba was being used for fuel by a local nursery school. There are plans to construct similar facilities in other slums to supply the gas to residents living near the facilities.
500 RESIDENTS ARE BENEFITING FROM EACH FACILITY
The division of environmental health in Kenya's Ministry of Health is finalizing policy documents aimed at ensuring that 90 percent of households have access to, and make use of, hygienic, affordable, functional and sustainable toilet and hand-washing facilities. The policies also aim at reducing the national rate of preventable sanitation-related diseases by half.
(This article does not necessarily reflects the views of ANREMI in any way)
Written by JAMES KARIUKI for DAILY NATION
A huge underground freshwater source has been discovered in Turkana.
Researchers say the acquifer, covering a surface area of 4,164 square kilometres at Lokipiti, holds about 200 billion cubic meters of fresh water and can serve Kenya for 70 years. In a post on ITV news website, French scientist Alain Gachet, who was involved in the research, said the reservoir could help reduce northern Kenya’s perennial water problems remarkably.
“If the Kenyan government can embrace this system, fund the drilling and maintain the infrastructure there’s no reason this will not change millions of lives for the better,” he said. Environment minister Judi Wakhungu called for the conservation of the water resource.
“This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole. We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations,” she said at a Unesco meeting.
Written by LILIAN ONYANGO for DAILY NATION
WATERS GUSHING OUT IN TURKANA WATER RESERVE WATERS GUSHING OUT IN TURKANA WATER RESERVE DAILY NATION
This is the second major natural resource discovery in Turkana after oil which was announced in March 2012. Results of a groundwater study show that Northern-Central Turkana is home to a reserve of 250 billion cubic metres of water.
The water is naturally refilled at the rate of about 3.4 billion cubic metres per year. This finding, according to the government study, can heighten the country’s share of accessible water by 8.5 per cent.
It is also likely to double the amount of water that is available for consumption today – ultimately improving the lives of Kenyans living in water scarce areas.
According to Director of Water Resources in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources John Nyaoro, Turkana residents will enjoy the newly discovered resource in the next two months.
The study was undertaken by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and conducted by Radar Technologies International and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and other agencies.
It found two major aquifers – bodies of permeable rock through which water can readily move – which were not previously exploited.
“We have drilled the aquifers, done test pumping and also found that the quality of water is fit for human use. These boreholes will be equipped as soon as possible and the people will also be able to use the water for domestic irrigation,” Mr Nyaoro said.
Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry Judy Wakhungu announced the results of the study while officiating at the Unesco Strategic and High Level Meeting on Water Security and Cooperation at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi on Wednesday.
“The significance of this is the potential to enhance groundwater development in Turkana and therefore positioning the government to better respond to the needs of the people, not only in Turkana and other Arid and Semi-Arid Lands areas, but the entire nation,” she said.
The Lotikipi Basin Aquifer System, one of the two reservoirs, is located between Lokichogio and Lokitaung. The sedimentary aquifer has an estimated 207 billion cubic metres of water of freshwater reserves.
“The potential volume of water is comparable to the volume of water in the nearby Lake Turkana,” Prof Wakhungu explained.
Mr Nyaoro said the ministry plans to dig several boreholes on the aquifer and even explore the possibility of creating a man-made river on it.
The other, Lodwar Basin Aquifer, is situated 16 kilometres from Lodwar town and can supply the town and is fed in part by the Turkwel River.
Later, Mr Nyaoro said, the sites will be handed over to the Rift Valley Water Services Board to manage.
Written by SAMMY LUTTA
A Turkana Herdsman at Nasiger Plains - Turkana County . William Oeri A Turkana Herdsman at Nasiger Plains - Turkana County . William Oeri DAILY NATION
Water find huge fortune for arid area, say Turkana leaders
Adapted from DAILY NATION
Local leaders say the huge water reservoir discovered in Turkana will change the social standing
The huge water reservoir discovered in Turkana County will change the social and economic standing of the arid and semi-arid region, say local leaders.
In a few months, residents should expect the introduction of modern cattle keeping methods, agro-forestry and an end to the perennial conflicts along the borders, according to Governor Josphat Nanok, Senator John Munyes, Women Rep Joyce Emanikor and County Speaker Geoffrey Kaituko.
CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP
Mr Nanok said the county government would work closely with the national government to help pastoralists grow fodder for their livestock and also provide piped water in areas designated as cattle drinking points, and help residents to start farming through irrigation.
Mr Munyes said residents have always been exposed to conflicts across the border when they lead their cattle to neighbouring South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia in search of water and pasture.
“Our neighbours, the Nyangatom, Merille, Karamajong, who have frequently been attacking us, stealing cattle and killing the herders, will no longer have the chance,” Mr Munyes said by phone.
Ms Emanikor said the water would address the issue of food shortages through irrigation.
“We will keep both governments on their toes to exploit this resource,” she said, adding that the county must utilise the water for commercial and industrial purposes.
Mr Kaituko said the county would no longer be a water-deficit region with the discovery of Lodwar and Lotikipi basin aquifers.
Turkana residents were overjoyed with the news of water discovery.
Ms Jane Lokalale said they would settle in one area instead of moving from place to place in search of water and pasture.
The residents said their children would settle in school as there would be no need to travel hundreds of kilometres in search of water and pastures.
Written by William A.Twayigize
Turkana, Kenya: Hunger, drought, and illiteracy have characterized the lives of the Turkana residents from time immemorial. As in most parts of Northeastern Kenya, hunger continues to devastate the residents of Turkana County. Although other parts of the country continue to receive rain, Turkana continues to experience drought, which affect every life of Turkana such as food supply, education, cattle rustling, and inter-ethnic conflict.
Elderly people, children, and women are the ones who are mostly affected by lack of rain. You meet people have not fed on anything in almost a month. These people look frail and sickly, and emaciated and can hardly find strength to fend for themselves as their government do little or absolutely nothing to stop the situation by providing relief food and irrigation projects so that people and animals can find water.
When you visit Turkana and other parts of Northeastern Kenya you find starving people chewing some herbs to distract their mind from the hunger pangs. Many people in Turkana use this as a last resort therapy to keep their hungry going, especially the aged, breastfeeding mothers, and children as they wait upon the Heavens to send good Samaritans such as Red Cross and other well-wishers to give them food.
Problem with drinking water
According to the Turkana County Rapid Food Security Assessment Report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the region of Turkana has more than 346,000 residents who urgently need water and food. If the Kenyan government does not do anything about it, people will continue losing their lives to hunger. Turkana residents trek more than 20 kilometers (16 miles) in search of water and food. Many people lose their lives to ferocious animals such hyena and leopard while on their way back home from fetching water at night.
According to the County Drought Co-coordinator Julius Tagging, “the situation is worsening as malnourished patients both children and adults continue to flock health centers in Turkana suffering from diseases which could easily be treated. Bwana Peter Ekai, the Turkana deputy governor says the situation now should be declared a county emergency intervention. “We do n in order to avoid repeating past scenarios where many people lost their lives due to government negligence.
Due to poor management of natural resources and lack of expertise in managing water or harvesting the rare rains that the region experience, previous years did not help much leading to poor crop produce even as most water sources continue to dry up from prolonged use. ANREMI is hoping that when resources are available, we will provide expertise to the people of Turkana, especially the current county government on how to harvest and manage the little water that the region experience. ANREMI also wants to work with other development partners to manage the newly discovered underground fresh water wells in order to safe todays life and future Turkanans.
This will save the Turkana communities from continuing to live in fear of perennial hunger and conflict between the Turkana and Toposa, Merille and Nyangatom of Ethiopia due to competition over water and other limited resources such as grazing land and food.
It is ironic that families that came to live near the area surrounding the recently discovered 207 billion cubic fresh aquifer in Lokitipi plains continue to languish in hunger as it remains deserted by both international investor’s and government activities forcing the thirsty residents to spend much of their time along roads begging for water from travelers. ANREMI hopes that once the resources are available we can solve this problem once for all so that our people in Turkana enjoy normal life as we educate them on how to effectively manage their newly discovered aquifer.
ANREMI strategies are to use photovoltaic energy which is available in plenty in most parts of Africa, especially in Northeastern Kenya such as Turkana to provide the resident of Turkana access to fresh waters and irrigation possibilities. This will allow them become self-sufficient in food provision and healthy living. Though the Turkana region has recently discovered Oil thee people of Turkana have enough solar to provide them with clean and sustainable energy to make their lives much better. We hope to continue educating them on effective ways of managing their resources to improve their living conditions without depending solely on government and external support to ensure their children inherit a bright future.
Written by William A.Twayigize
NEW OIL IN KENYA AND A LESSON TO LEARN FROM SUDAN AND ANGOLA
It is a good news when people who have been marginalized for centuries to wake up and find that the soil has more in store for them than just a sand and rocks. Turkana residents are good example of what institutionalized marginalization looks like. Though unlike in some countries in developing world the government denies one community access to resources and infrastructure and deny their people freedom of expression and movement, Kenya is rare case. Kenyans people are free and free indeed. For the last 15 years, the country has embarked on a democratic path. People are free to choose their leaders. However in a country where there is institutionalized marginalization where some regions are more developed than others, it is still hard for the people of Turkana to catch up with the rest of other counties. This is because this county has been left behind absolutely from every aspects of development. Be it education, healthcare, food security, infrastructure, and resources investment. However, things might change in near future if the people of Turkana are empowered to manage their natural resources which have been recently discovered in huge quantity in Turkana County. First it was a discovery of Oil Ngamia One and Ngamia Two in Turkana County. Then was a huge discovery of huge aquifers. Indeed there are plenty of reasons for the people of Turkana to celebrate, because the region has been marginalized both historically and systematically from the colonial masters and to the post-independence Kenyan leadership.
TURKANA COUNTY AND THE OIL BOOM
Turkana County is one of the largest counties in Kenya. It covers around 68,680.3 Sq. Km or 42,253 miles. It is a semi-arid, warm and hot with unreliable rainfall pattern. It only experiences between 300mm and 400mm per annum. Majority of the Turkana residents are nomadic pastoralists who depend on cattle herding and fishing as a major source of their livelihoods. They spend most of their days fishing in the waters of Lake Turkana. Children and young men herd Goats, camels, donkeys and zebu cattle as their common livestock that provide both food and income. The County is located in north western Kenya bordering Marsabit County to the east, Samburu County to the south east, and Baringo and West Pokot County to the south, to the South-west. Turkana region has the lowest literacy level in the entire country, which is a good indication of institutionalized marginalization. According to the 2009 census carried out by Open Government Data Portal, more than 43% of Turkana residents have never stepped at the door of a classroom. This is half of entire Turkana population (www.opendata.go.ke) (See the graphs below).
However, the tides might change soon for the population of Turkana. Although this community has been marginalized for over centuries, their God never marginalized them at all. He buried riches underneath their soil. Recently, two important phenomena took place in Turkana. First, a British Oil exploration firm discovered multiple wells of oil (www.nation.co.ke). Second, a good news explored the media as two aquifers were discovered as tweeted Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu (www.bbc.com). These aquifers were found in the Turkana Basin and Lotikipi Basin bringing hope to millions of Kenyans, especially the residents of Turkana who have, over centuries, witnessed their beloved ones and their livestock succumbing to drought and hunger. However, due to poor management of the natural resources coupled with bad governance, these poor residents, for over centuries they have been sitting on the top of massive undiscovered water reservoirs of which experts say that could meet the entire country's needs for at least 70 years, scientists say (www.africareview.co.ke). Experts say that Turkana is home to a reserve of 250 billion cubic meters of fresh water, and which is naturally replenished at the rate of about 3.4 billion cubic meters per year. We hope that these discoveries of natural resources in Turkana and the wave of governance reform in Kenya will promote community-based natural resources management philosophy in order to give people voice in making decisions of how their resources are managed to improve their living conditions.
The wave of democracy in Kenyan and the new constitution have allowed people to choose their leaders in a new revolved system. The Turkana County should be in forefront to champion for a community based natural resources management system can empower people to work for themselves, promote their economic development using locally available resources that will improve their living conditions. Oil and Aquifers found in Turkana are enough resources to improve Turkana living conditions if the all stakeholders such as the government, investors, and Turkana people are involved for the sake of local development by establishing infrastructure for the county. Turkana residents need to be actively involved in the management of these new natural resources in order to hold accountable their leaders and plan for the development of the Turkana region and share with all Kenyans in general. This cannot be achieved if the government does not take tangible measures to support development in Turkana.
Even though there have been these new discoveries of natural resources which are the potential of changing both the political and socioeconomic landscapes of Northern Kenya, the government and international community show very few excitement both on part of the Kenyan government and international investors because of two main issues: Turkana lacks educated people to push the government agenda in other to establish a Government Turkana Recovery Fund that would focus on creating infrastructures in the region in order to attract investors and facilitate the movement of goods in and out of the county; and Turkana has been so marginalized in such way that it does not seem like Turkana is on the priority list of to have the region ready and attract more investors. This can only happen if the government put more resources in marketing the region globally so that new found waters can find funds for irrigating millions of acres of vast empty land to address the recurrent food insecurity, and stop the hunger, in the county.
We have to remember that water has never been a problem in Turkana county but lack of effective management of our natural resources. Lake Turkana that expands throughout the county and is the world’s largest permanent desert lake, which has been there for over millions of years with a surface area of nearly 6,500 square kilometers or roughly around 4,039 miles. The plans to manage the Turkana natural resources have remained in the government archives. There have been no attempts made to purify the Lake Turkana water and pipe it across the county. Neither has any attempt been made for water catchments of the huge seasonal rivers such as Turkwel and Kerio rivers that run across the county so that people don’t continue losing their lives due to drought and lack of enough food. DANGERS OF
PERSISTENT MARGINALIZATION OF THE PEOPLE OF TURKANA
Like in most parts of Kenya and the East African region in general, leaders should embrace the reality of 2013 or the reality of Dot Com mindset. The sweet bitter reality of leaders is that Turkana people’s worldview is changing faster than predicted. Though majority of Turkana residents have had no access to basic education due to lack of infrastructure and harsh living conditions, like most Kenyans they are embracing technology. At least every village has access to cellphone. Most of Kenyan cheap mobile phones have access to FM Radio. This phenomenon started during general presidential elections campaigns of 2007. This wave has never stopped since. Turkana residents are becoming more informed than ever before. They are now aware of what their land has in for themselves and how it is capable of changing their lives for the better. Unaware or blindfolded by the historical injustice of unequal distribution of resources, the nation was caught by surprise when Turkana residents took to the streets and stormed the UK Oil firm forcing it to suspend its operations in Block 10BB and Block 13T in Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties demanding jobs from the company. Though the government and investors took swift measures to resolve the conflict this incident in Northern Kenya is a typical example of community awareness and a warning letter to East African nations to set up new clear rules of social engagement among investors, government, and host community in order to effectively manage local natural resources without leaving local residents languish in dire poverty while the government leaders and foreign investors cashing in billions and billions from local natural resources. A TRIPARTITE
INVESTMENT AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF TURKANA PEOPLE
A sustainable investment in any natural resources should be a Tripartite Affair. Turkana residents like most African communities have natural rights to natural resources inherited from their forefathers. This inalienable rights to these resources should be a precursor to faster development of the Turkana County. The government should focus on community based investment so that both local and foreign investors help the local people achieve their basic dreams of having their children have access to education, mothers being able to take children to health clinics nearby once they are sick, and fathers being able to find employment to support their families.
When it comes to managing natural resources not only in Turkana County or Kenya in general but in all communities in Africa that have access to natural resources in their localities should be empowered to make decisions regarding managing their resources such as negotiating on behalf of their communities the acceptable cost that investors have to offer in exchange of their natural resources so that their natural resources can facilitate local communities development. This would not only ensure there is accountability and transparency but also empower communities to lead a better and livable conditions. Kenyan government should facilitate investment in the Turkana county but also assist the Turkana residents negotiate their share in Oil Investment so that these natural resources’ revenue not only contribute to the national revenue but also to the local income. This would improve the lives of Turkana people contributing to the construction of new schools, health centers, and roads so that Turkana people start trading with their new neighbors, and use the revenue from oil to irrigate the new found waters throughout the county. Thus putting an end to starvation that has characterized the lives of Turkana residents.
LESSONS TO LEARN FROM ANGOLA, DRC, AND SUDAN
Failure to involving local communities in natural resources management has become the main reasons that people start resenting their leadership and look for alternative ways to ask for their share. Like many African youth, the people of Turkana think that their time is now to have their place in the Kenyan society, not only as Kenyans but as people who feel that their government listens and cares about their needs. This does not happen in number of meetings and political rallies that the government hold in the community but by numbers of projects that the same government undertakes in the same community. Numerous African countries failed to learn this lesson and ended up their natural resources becoming a curse. We can name few of countries that did not listen to their citizens or forget to partner with their citizens in natural resources management. These countries ended up having numerous socio-political conflict instigated by completion over natural resources. Angola, Sudan, DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Somalia, and others. Kenya has a long list to learn from so that oil, water, and other resources can be shared equitably by all the people focusing mostly on those who have been left out by historical injustices in order to have an equitable society and stable country. There have been indications that Kenyan society, especially people from Turkana and Mombasa want to benefit from local natural resources to address socioeconomic inequalities that characterize both regions. The choice is for the government on how it wants to empower people using resources from their own communities so that each community’s resident has access to education, healthcare, and enough food. Only a community based natural resources management can make communities equal and address unfair distribution of resources and promote to community coexistence, peace, and regional stability.