New Report Warns of Dire Environmental, Social Economic Changes in Turkana if not Managed Prudently

A Preliminary threat analysis of the oil-rich Lokichar Basin by  Conservation Organisations World Wide  Fund for Nature – Kenya ( WWF-Kenya) and the Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG) indicates that the Foundation Stage Development of the South Lokichar Oil fields is likely to induce environmental, economic, social and cultural changes.

The report dubbed ‘Preliminary Threat Analysis;The    Foundation Stage Development of the South Lokichar Oil Basin’ warns that unless the exercise is well managed  the social economic impact could be massive due to possible changes in land-use patterns which will have direct  consequence on pastoralism fueled by land acquisition, a  ripple effect on natural resource rights access and change in value systems due to population influx due to increased access to opportunities in the South Lokichar Oil basin

The report highlights factors that are already raising red flags ahead of the mobilization of the phase including:

  1. The fact that exploration and appraisal of the Turkana fields was initially before the Community Land Act, 2016 which would regulate negotiations with the communities for compensation mechanisms. Pastoralist communities view the shrinkage of pastoral land as systematic displacement and loss of livelihood means that can only be supported by such a fragile ecosystem which they have depended upon for centuries.
  1. Foreseen restrictive land tenure rights, and possible loss of ownership, access and control of pastoral livelihoods.
  1. Lack of regulations on hazardous waste management expected to regulate the hazardous waste that may be produced during the construction and operation phase which might result in contamination of both underground and surface water ways.
  1. Need  for adequate environmental monitoring program. During the production phase, gas  flaring  is  likely  to  increase  within  the  Amosing,  Ngamia  and  Twiga  oil  fields releasing high volumes of harmful gases into the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane,sulphur and other forms of gases. These have direct implications on air quality and health of the communities living in the vicinity of the flares sites and also areas that may be affected by key environmental parameters.   Therefore, we recommend the implementation of cleaner technologies to mitigate climate change impacts such as carbon  capture  and  storage  technologies as well as gas reinjection, as an option for reservoir stabilization among others.

The report recommends a number of pastoralist specific recommendations which it says would help mitigate these effects including:

  1. The need to undertake environmental and social impacts assessments of all components of the Foundation Stage  Development  project  and designing strategies to mitigate negative impacts on Indigenous pastoralists cultures and traditions and the environments that make the cultures possible.
  2. Create channels to enable constructive, focused engagement with communities to recognize, respect and protect their rights. This will ensure and enable structures that will ensure their full and effective participation in all processes related to oil and gas development, recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples rights to free, prior and informed consent over their lands, territories and resources.
  3. Clarify and resolve land tenure issues concerning local communities along the LAPSSET corridor and the South Lokichar Basin, recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples ancestral claims to territories on the basis of the continued impact of the doctrine of discovery and their right to redress under Article 28 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Institute reliable, lasting conflict prevention and management systems that build on ongoing peace initiatives in the South Lokichar Oil Basin between Indigenous Peoples and with neighboring communities.
  5. Recognize, promote and support community livelihood systems while enabling opportunities to engage in modern economic practice, for those who wish, but ensuring development with culture and identity.

Download the full report HERE