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Success requires consultation

Type:   Reports
Topic:   Assessment of alternatives
Date submitted:   14/09/2015
Member:   Walquiria Felizardo

"Oil Exploration in Kenya: success requires consultation - Assessment of community perceptions of oil exploration in Turkana County, Kenya". Published by Cordaid, 2015.

The research – designed and conducted together with a coalition of local, Turkana-based civil society organizations – was targeted at identifying and documenting the concerns, fears and hopes of “the smaller voices”, as stated by one respondent in reference to villagers and pastoralists, whose views are not often heard in the policy debates regarding oil development in Kenya. 

The report contains challenging language; there are perceptions and findings that remain to be tested. It looks forward to helping local communities and civil society in Turkana and other resource-rich parts of Kenya to test these challenges, together with government and companies themselves. Working together, to identify common goals and engage in an open and respectful manner, not only will help Kenya improve the sharing of benefits of its oil, gas and mining resources, but is also important for preventing any further escalation of tensions and conflict.

Experience shows that without access to information and meaningful consultation, most local communities confronted with oil, gas and mining will eventually resist projects that have an impact on them. When negative impacts are not adequately redressed and benefits are unevenly distributed, trust is further undermined and the risk of communal and community–company tensions increases. 

The risk of tensions escalating into larger-scale violence is real in Turkana. Government at both national and county level holds the key to turn around the perceived lack of security and uneven benefit-sharing felt by local communities. This cannot be achieved overnight or by heavy-handed (costly) security operations, but instead requires a more serious commitment to meaningful consultation and negotiation with affected communities.

In Cordaid views, the exploitation of oil (and mineral) resources can bring significant social and economic benefits to the citizens of Kenya, especially Turkana. Apart from the required institutional and legal reforms for a transparent and accountable revenue management system, the recent drop in oil prices and the related lull in exploration activities has created a unique window of opportunity for companies, government and civil society to invest more seriously, and inexpensively, in community engagement. 

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