World Bank faults KenGen’s Olkaria resettlement plan

The World Bank has faulted KenGen over the resettlement of communities displaced from a 280MW geothermal power development site in Olkaria even as it approved mediation mechanism to resolve grievances raised by the affected group.

The $330 million (S3.6 billion) project, supported by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), aims to increase the capacity, efficiency, and quality of electricity supply as well as expand access to electricity in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas.

A World Bank inspection panel established non-compliance with some of the Bretton Woods institution’s policies related to indigenous peoples, involuntary resettlement and inadequate supervision by the bank.

“The panel recognises the many positive aspects of this resettlement, but our investigation also confirmed that some of the most vulnerable people experienced harm during the resettlement process,” said panel chairman Gonzalo Castro de la Mata.

“We expect that redress will be provided to the affected community through the proposed way forward.”

The investigation was in response to complaints by some members of the Maasai community who alleged harm as a result of resettlement of four villages to pave the way for the project that is being implemented by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), and is jointly financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other donor agencies.

The EIB also received a complaints about the project and undertook an investigation. According KenGen’s 2014 annual report, the exercise involved resettlement of over 200 herdsmen.

Social amenities

A total of 1,181 men, women and children will be moved to make way for the power plant. The entire resettlement area covers 1,700 acres of land bought by KenGen where the company has built 150 homes for those affected.

The community will also enjoy various social amenities such as a modern primary school, four Secondary school scholarships every year, a dispensary, three churches, a cattle dip, watering troughs and a communal meeting hall.

A road network, electricity and water will also be provided. The World Bank said it was optimistic the matter would be resolved to allow for the implementation of the project.

“Large scale infrastructure projects are complex, and the bank is fully committed to working with the affected communities, KenGen, and other partners to solve any issues,” said World Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

“As we move forward with mediation, we expect to jointly learn and trouble-shoot issues quickly. We’ll reinforce our commitment to engaging with citizens on how best to plan and build transformative, sustainable infrastructure projects.”