In the last eight years, the extractive industry has grown in Kenya. It is currently contributing 14.2% of the GDP, 3% of Kenya’s export earnings that is anticipated to rise to 10% by the year 2030. In 2014/2015, the total production from the industry was Kshs. 20.9 billion, with the government collecting Kshs.1.25 billion as taxes, royalties and other payments. The growing importance of the mining industry has seen the development of a comprehensive and holistic legal and regulatory framework for the extractive industry to limit the negative impacts of mining, ensure sustainable mining practices and ensure the equitable sharing of mining benefits, reduce poverty, economic disparities and creation of meaningful employment.
Kwale County is endowed with huge mineral deposits. Some of which have already been discovered, including :Titanium (rutile, ilmenite, zircon) at Nguluku and Shimba Hills; Gemstones at Kuranze; Rare Earth Elements (niobium, phosphates) at Mrima Hills and Samburu; Silica Sands at Waa, Tiwi and Ramisi amongst others. Despite these valuable resources, Kwale County is ranked among the poorest counties in Kenya with a population of 71% living below the poverty line.
There has been concern to the exploitation by Base Titanium Company in Kwale County by local communities due to various reasons some of which are environmental considerations, health effects due to perceived high radioactivity, environmental degradation, inadequate compensation, inadequate implementation of PAP and community benefits-sharing amongst others. We are aware of the efforts the company has been doing to address host community concerns. However the affected communities are of different opinion on equitable benefit sharing from mining activities and inadequate measures taken in mitigating environmental pollution through provision of basic services to the mining host communities.
Hakijamii organized a one day meeting between Base Titanium Project Liaison Committee and Mining Host Communities on a “Compensation and Agreed Resettlement Action Plan”.
Through the meeting it came out that:
- There are still communities living around the mining area who have not been compensated. Though the existing records show that they have been compensated. (This has been blamed on corruption).
- Only those with over 3 acres within the mining area were to be compensated. As a result, those with more than 5 acres were left in the part of their land that was not taken up by the mining. These people have no neighbors and have to walk long distances to access markets, schools, health care centres, etc.
- The people who were relocated from Bwiti have not been able to settle in yet. The life they are living currently is of a poorer quality than their previous norm. They were relocated as squatters and not as land owners. They are having difficulties accessing basic services. There is also tension between the host community and those relocated, this is because of the strain on the available resources and temporary employment opportunities.
- Some of the individuals who were compensated misused their money and are now living in poorer conditions than they were previously living before the relocation.
- There was no proper awareness or education on their rights or proper compensation. Most of the individuals did not know what the proper amount of compensation was and are now suffering due to insufficient compensation. It came out clear that the local communities were not properly protected in the process of relocation.