Kenya: Report claims communities impacted by Akiira Geothermal's operations not adequately consulted; includes company response & NGOs' rejoinder

A report by International Accountability Project (IAP) allege some members of the local community impacted by Akiira Geothermal's operations did not have access to information about the proposed project neither were they consulted. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited Akiira Geothermal to respond to the allegations. Akiira Geothermal denied the allegations and said its stakeholder engagement plan is based on IFC standards. IAP further refuted the company's response, saying the claim of inadequate consultation was inconsistent with its findings from field research 

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Company response
14 August 2018

Akiira Geothermal's response

Author: Akiira Geothermal

"Akiira Geothermal's response"

Akiira stakeholder engagement plan is based on IFC standards and is well recognized by Ministry of Energy, GRMF among others as the best implemented so far. We have taken an active role in engaging the affected communities ensuring gender equality, youth, elderly and people with disability participation. Our engagement also ensures we respect customary beliefs and practices of the local communities. The SEP also identifies affected community based on impact. The stakeholder action plan has a schedule of meeting and activities to be conducted through the life of the project which include project kick off meetings, air and noise report meeting, open day, grievance report meeting etc

The company has implemented the action plan; conducted several meeting prior to its formulation and there are minutes and reports to show the same. We have been audited by lenders and other international organization on the same, we have responded to issues and concerns to their satisfaction.  Akiira has a grievance mechanism, which all affected communities are aware of including the kambiturkana village. We have forms in or office, which many have used in the past. We also have had follow up meeting to address the grievance raised throughout the various phases of the project.

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NGO rejoinder
14 August 2018

International Accountability Project's rejoinder

Author: International Accountability Project

"Rejoinder by International Accountability Project"

The findings highlighted issues related to communities’ access to project information, Akiira Geothermal Limited’s consultation and involvement of the communities in the project project, benefit sharing and the project’s benefit to the communities. For example, the findings indicate that 64% of the respondents in the affected communities were never consulted during the design phase of the project, and among those who were consulted, 73% of the respondents lacked sufficient information to provide informed opinions and ideas about the project.

From these and other findings, we invite Akiira Geothermal Limited to respond directly to the concerns raised by the community members, which include:

1. Providing for their full and unconditional participation in decision-making, including the free will to elect trusted representatives to the committees who can uphold their interests without any undue influence from the company or its agents.

2. Fulfilling its obligations under the Constitution of Kenya (2010) and Community Land Act (2016) including compensation for land, pollution control and provision of alternative livelihoods (guarantee job opportunities and capacity building to the communities) and based on mutual agreement between Akiira Geothermal Limited and affected communities.

3. Having a clearly negotiated and agreed upon benefit sharing formula based on Section 35(1) of the Community Land Act that stipulates that natural resources found on community land shall be used and managed for the benefit of the whole community including future generations and on the basis of equitable sharing of accruing benefits.

4. Recognizing Kambiturkana Village residents who were excluded from all negotiations involving the Akiira Geothermal Limited and the community as owners of the land that they occupy, provide them with regular project information updates and consider them in the project’s benefit sharing and decision making processes.

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NGO rejoinder
14 August 2018

Rejoinder by Narasha Community Development Group

Author: Narasha Community Development Group (Kenya)

"Narasha Community Development Group (NCDG) Response to Akiira Geothermal Limited on their reply to the briefer of the research done by IAP and NCDG on Akiira 1 Geothermal Power Plant"

I wish to categorically recognise some good practices by the company such as holding frequent meetings with the committee, workshops, and visits to the neighboring schools. However, I wish to highlight specific areas that should be strengthened:

Improve on sharing information to the whole community without depending on the committee. This has left the majority of the community in darkness.
· Ensure inclusivity in your engagement by ensuring every affected community is fairly represented in the committee and continuous engagements without leaving any one behind.
· Ensure that feedback from the community is received and action taken to address their concerns.
· Ensure FPIC is applied to this community in order to prevent violation of cultural and religious rights. Maa is a culturally rich community and neglecting such will affect the generations to come.
· Prevent adverse environmental impacts, such as pollution and where it occurs, mitigation measures should be taken.
· Respect other people's opinions, accept positive criticism and build strong relations with all stakeholders including civil societies. Civil society organizations are registered,
recognized and accepted in Kenya through the constitution and internationally through international protocols.
· Conduct studies on the strength and weaknesses of the other companies and ensure they do not repeat their failures.
· Address issues around land, environment, cultural and community engagements in the course of project implementation.
Narasha Community Development Group will continue working with the community to build their capacity, raise early warning in the area, advise the companies on issues that need to be addressed and ensure rights of all citizen are respected by these companies as they operate in their communities.

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Article
14 August 2018

Report says communities impacted by Akiira Geothermal not adequately consulted

Author: International Accountability Project & Narasha Community Development Group

Akiira 1 Geothermal Power Plant Project: Maasai Community in Kenya Affected by Another Geothermal Power Project Speaks Out”

 Akiira 1 Geothermal Power Project (EIB-20140645) is Akiira Geothermal Limited's first geothermal exploration and power plant development project located south of the Greater Olkaria Geothermal Complex in Naivasha, Kenya… In April 2018, Narasha Community Development Group, in partnership with the International Accountability Project (IAP), worked together to provide project information through the Early Warning System to affected communities to facilitate their engagement in the project process. Dissemination of project information was followed by a community led research to gather information about their knowledge and expertise, and to seek recommendations for their effective engagement in the implementation of the project…

64% of the respondents indicated they were not consulted during the formulation of the project. However, the results indicate that 29% of the 36% who were consulted felt unsafe to share their true feelings, questions and ideas about the project while 33% indicated that they felt safe. One of the reasons that respondents that felt unsafe cited was fear of harassment by the company in case they expressed views opposing the project…At the time the data was collected, 73% of the respondents did not have information about the Akiira 1 Geothermal Power Plant Project and they lacked sufficient information regarding the project details such as where, when and how the company intends to carry out its activities…

 

47% of the respondents anticipate that they may lose their jobs/livelihoods while 43% may lose their land to the project without clear mechanism for compensation and/or resettlement.

 

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