Impact of Oil Exploration on the Turkana Community

Turkana Community Awareness , Kainuk

Impact of Oil Exploration on the Turkana Community

The discovery of oil in Turkana County, Kenya has attracted the attention of different actors at all levels. Since the oil exploration begun a couple years ago, the County is evolving to become the next frontier of development in Kenya.

On Thursday, May 7th 2015 Kituo Cha Sheria will launch a report as an outcome of a quantitative and qualitative survey which was conducted in October 2014 by KITUO.

The findings are as follows:-

Firstly, the discovery of the oil in Turkana is largely perceived as a blessing to the County due to its promise and potential to trigger socio-economic development. Already, the oil industry attracts different types of investments ranging from small to medium businesses, has triggered infrastructure development (e.g. roads) and offers skilled and unskilled employment opportunities.

Secondly, and on the other hand, the on-going oil exploration activities are associated with negative outcomes such as loss of ancestral and grazing land, economic exclusion (e.g. inaccessibility of jobs by locals), insecurity and environmental degradation.

Thirdly, these problems are sources of environmental and human rights violations and clearly remind us of the trade-offs which are often inherent at the development-environment-people interfaces.

Fourthly and consequently, the discovery of oil exploration in Turkana has fuelled much debate on whether the benefits will surely and adequately trickle down to the local communities whose livelihoods are directly linked to the natural resources and the environment.

Lastly, findings from the survey recommends the importance of reconciling environment and development by minimizing trade-offs (e.g. conflicts over oil related resource) and reinforcing synergies (e.g. integrating local perspectives and addressing their needs) in order to foster sustainable development. This requires well thought out strategies such as empowering local people to protect their rights and access socio-economic and environmental justice; building strong partnerships and encouraging collaborative initiatives (e.g. between private, public and civil society organizations), promoting public participation and consultations, accountability and transparency etc.

The report concludes that these strategies can work if there is good will and in so doing, the people of Turkana can be lifted out of poverty which is an important target for the Post 2015 sustainable development goals.

AGCP- Kituo Cha Sheria

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