KenGen faulted over flouting World Bank’s resettlement policies

By: IMMACULATE KARAMBU

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has been faulted on how resettled members of the Maasai community to pave way for construction of the 280 megawatts geothermal power plant.

In its latest update on investigations on allegations of harm to the community resulting from the resettlement exercise, the Bretton Woods institution said that KenGen did not comply with World Bank’s policies related to indigenous peoples and involuntary resettlement.

The report also says that the resettlement process was not adequately supervised by the World Bank, although the institution had followed its policies with regard to Physical Cultural Resources in the implementation of the multi-billion power project.

“The panel recognises the many positive aspects of this resettlement, but our investigation also confirmed that some of the most vulnerable people experienced harms during the resettlement process. We expect that redress will be provided to the affected community through the proposed way forward,” said Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, chairman of the inspection panel investigating the Kenya Electricity Expansion Project (KEEP) where the geothermal project falls.

KEEP is funded by bilateral lenders such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and others, alongside the World Bank to a tune of Sh141.8 billion ($1.39 billion).

Of this amount, the World Bank’s contribution accounts for Sh33.7 billion ($330 million) in form of a loan from the International Development Association (IDA) approved in May 2010 with the aim of increasing access to electricity in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.

The EIB complaints mechanism has started a mediation process between KenGen and representatives of the Maasai community with a view to address the issues raised by the inspection panel.

The outcome of the process will be reviewed in a period of one year when the party handling the mediation will present its findings to the World Bank’s board of executive directors.

“We are supporting the Kenyan authorities to bring clean, renewable energy to households and businesses across the country. This is critical for fighting poverty and promoting shared prosperity,” said World Bank managing director and chief operating officer Mr Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

He added that the institution is fully committed to working with the affected communities, KenGen, and other partners to solve any issues.

The Sh5 billion resettlement process has in the past been a thorny issue with communities opposed to it arguing that much of the land set aside for resettlement was “not hospitable”

SOURCE: DAILY NATION