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19 Jan 2017

Shadrack Kavilu & Justus Wanzala, in Reuters

Kenya: Women likely to be discriminated against during compensation after displacement to pave way for coal plant

"Women step up fight for land destined for Mui’s coal mine"

When the Kenyan government announced five years ago that coal deposits had been found in the Mui Basin, a land of rolling hills and pristine forests east of Nairobi, local farmers hoped the discovery would help transform their livelihoods. But as villagers prepare to leave their loamy, fertile soils to make way for the multi-million dollar mine and power station development, many households fear they will miss out on compensation because women do not have titles to their land. Traditionally, Kenyan society is patriarchal and ownership and decisions on land management or disposal are made by men...

A Chinese firm, Fenxi Mining Group, was given rights to develop half the area in 2011. Another Chinese company, HCIG Energy Investment Company with Liketh Investments Kenya Ltd won rights to develop the rest of the area and coal fired plant in 2015...George Kariithi, director of the Great Lakes Corporation, a Kenyan partner of the Fenxi Mining Group said the company could not comment on the issue of land compensation and ownership rights. "We have left that for the government to handle," he [said]

According to local residents however, there has been very little interaction between the mining companies and local communities. Activists say that the government itself has not been forthcoming either and communities still have no idea where churches, markets and water points are to be re-located. Simon Mutui of the campaign group Kenya NGO Council said widows and single parents are particularly worried as they have no legal claim to their land at all. "Children born out of wedlock stay with their maternal extended families but have no claim to land as their mothers lack inheritance rights, they have no claim to compensation," he said.