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ASAL counties call for their involvement on renewable energy projects

The counties in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas have urged investors to involve them when implementing renewable energy projects in their regions for equal social economic benefits.

In a sensitization forum organized by The Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT) in Nanyuki, community’s representatives from the counties of Baringo, Turkana, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Laikipia raised concern that, they had not been sufficiently engaged whenever their natural resources are being extracted, which they alleged is done in secrecy.

Samson Lempakany from Baringo, decried that, when Mega projects are implemented without community participation, the projects end up not serving the intended purposes since the investors may not understand the locals’ needs.

Paul Lekapana from Loyangalani in Turkana County, said that when communities are being displaced for implementation of projects for instance renewable energy they should be compensated.

“There should be a mechanism whereby the community should benefit from being part of the project. They can benefit through carbon credit benefits under the clean development mechanism and also through community social responsibility, we need to get more from the projects,” said Lekapana.

Lekapana revealed that land acquisition by investors is not done rightfully thus displacing the community which has resulted in conflicts in Turkana and Baringo counties.

“The project came with a lot of negative impacts to the community, firstly, the way land was acquired was not good, since the whole community was not fully involved,” said Lekapana, referring to the Turkana wind project.

He said, Turkana wind project was expected to benefit residents directly through job creation and improvement of infrastructure in the community.

“These huge projects are in a place where we have poor road networks, it’s surprising that this power is being transmitted to other parts of the country but in places like Loyangaline town, we don’t have power for development,” he said.

Lekapana urged that future projects should follow due diligence.

“The community has a window to talk with investors and see how this issue of land and social accountability can be solved. Any new development around those areas should be done in a due diligence and implemented to the letter,” he said.

IMPACT, Responses investment and human rights programme manager, Ms Purity Gakuo said they targeted to enlighten the indigenous communities their rights and land acquisition processes and how to hold investors accountable.

“It of interest to us that we build the capacity of the community so that they may understand the rights as enshrined in the constitution when it comes to public participation and the compulsory acquisition process,” said Gakuo.

She noted that implementation of renewable energy in northern parts of the country remains unclear hence the need to train the communities’ representatives.

“Trends have shown us that businesses that have already been implemented like Turkana wind power, processes involving land acquisition and involving the community remain unclear.

It is of interest to us we build capacity of the community that they may understand the rights as enshrined in the constitution,” revealed Gakuo.

By Muturi Mwangi

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