Yes Base Titanium sinks boreholes, but still lacks the “social license” to operate

Yes Base Titanium sinks boreholes, but still lacks the “social license” to operate

In May 2017, Hakijamii conducted a research in Kwale County specifically in areas around Nguluku and Bwiti villages. When we released the draft of research paper, all the stakeholders (including Base Titanium Limited) were invited to give their input during the validation workshop. Base responded by sending their comments on a 45-page document which we read carefully and included what we thought was more relevant to the study.

Our report was based on the data and information that we received from the Key Informant Interviews (KII), literature review and field survey. Hakijamii interviewed 39 heads of households (randomly selected); 10 Key Informant Interviews (KII) and 4 focused group discussions (FGDs). The study found that there is no equitable benefit sharing in that context, with the mining host communities in Nguluku and Bwiti still experiencing dire socio-economic conditions.  In regards food access in Nguluku the survey found that only 18.2% of the respondents can afford – 3 meals while 100% of the respondents reported going to bed hungry sometime. In regards to access to health services the report found that in Nguluku one has to travel 8-15 kilometers to access the nearest  health facility in (Msambweni, Shimba Hills, Mivumoni), there has been little improvement in healthcare infrastructure despite adverse health impact of mining. In Bwiti, the dispensary is – poorly equipped (few qualified personnel & medication – one nurse & 2 community health workers). In regards access to education, in Nguluku the nearest schools are 3-6 kilometers away being Duncan Ndegwa & Mwadogo Primary Schools, however, the schools have registered deteriorating performance due to distance, threats of wild animals, poor infrastructure and learning environment, high teacher-student ratio. There are also many dropouts due to poverty & early pregnancies.

It is important for us to get facts right. The report was not written with the intention of accusing Base Titanium Limited but it was a fact-finding mission whose outcome was and still is intended to inform policy formulation. Hakijamii conducted the research with three main objectives in mind: a) to collect data affirming the socio-economic situation of households in Nguluku and Bwiti; b) to determine the perceptions of mining host communities on benefit sharing and burden sharing in the context of titanium mining in Kwale and; c) to determine the mining community perceptions on the county government budgeting process and whether that process has responded to their priority needs and aspirations.

Our role as a Civil Society Organization is to inform and sensitize our constituents on their rights and advocate for formulation of laws, regulations and policies. We work independently and do not allow any outside forces to influence our interventions. It’s also important to note that our approach was multi-pronged. This is because, apart from engaging the mining corporation, we also worked closely with the Kwale County government and the national government in ensuring that communities do not end up becoming poorer despite having resources in their locality.

This is a process we are prepared to engage in up to its conclusion and it is reflected in our recommendations on the report on Benefit sharing. These recommendations are aimed at what mining host communities can do to get a better deal from extractives. One of the strategies is to engage in policy making, we called upon the national government to fast-track the implementation of the Mining Act 2016 and its regulations. This will make it possible for counties to receive their share of royalties submitted to the national government. On this issue we were pleased to learn that there is progress considering that the National Treasury and Ministry of Mining are on the process of establishing the Mineral Royalty Fund. The Cabinet Secretary for Devolution noted that, “this is to enable distribution of respective share of funds collected to county governments and communities.” This is a step in the right direction.

Pauline Vata- Executive Director Hakijamii