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Members of CSOs’ trained on community rights

Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in Taita-Taveta County have been challenged to familiarize themselves with relevant policies, laws on mining and use of natural resources as a way of educating the public on their rights.
Program advisor for Peace Net-Kenya Otieno Omboko, said there was a need for communities in many parts of Kenya to know their rights in relation to natural resources located in their areas.
Omboko said many investors, corporations and international companies were keen to exploit such resources without giving back to the community.
Speaking in Voi during training on natural resources on Saturday, the program advisor said awareness on community’s rights would make people more proactive in their involvement to demand for their share of development.
“Our hope lies in knowing our rights. Once we do that, it becomes hard to be exploited,” he said.
So far, Peace Net-Kenya has conducted six workshops in Garissa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa.
Amongst some of the issues covered include how to counter violent extremism, governance and administration, natural resources and conflict amongst others.
The executive Director of Ujamaa Center, Eunice Odhiambo said there was need to relook how communities benefitted from resources in their locality.
She said most areas with such resources became conflict zones from what she termed as ‘the tragedy of endowment.’
“The resources which ought to be a blessing to us usually become the genesis of conflict. We need to have clear guidelines on how we can benefit as a people,” Odhiambo said.
Taita-Taveta was identified as having vast amounts of natural resources that were not benefiting local residents. There was also complaints the Tsavo National Park which occupies 63 per cent of the total land mass of the county has not been beneficial to local residents.
Omboko said the training would continue to capacity build the local communities to demand for their rights.
He added that the government should promote the use of alternative dispute resolution to substitute court processes.
“We believe disagreements arising from sharing of resources can be adequately addressed through alternative dispute resolution,” he said.
A local rights activist, Ezra Mdamu said civil society groups would hold several meetings with the community to inform them of their rights, adding that most institutions and companies in the region needed to invest back to the community.
“We are endowed with a lot of wealth and the investors can give back to our people as a token of appreciation,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi

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