Narasha Community Development Group is a locally based organisation working towards improving the livelihood of the local people affected by geothermal project within the Olkaria Area in Naivasha. Olkaria is geothermal rich areas with a potential of producing over 5000 MW of geothermal power. Geothermal is also attracting new projects which develop other finished goods through the use of the geothermal resources like brine, electricity and other by-products from geothermal. The government has plans to develop clothing, iron, among other industries in the area.
The organisation has been monitoring these development projects and pushing the government and projects implementers to respect the rights of the affected community and also assist in improving the standard of living of the affected population. We have seen Olkaria IV power plant displacing approximately 2000 people directly and affecting their livelihoods. In 2015, the World Bank inspection Panel investigation report found that there were a lot of human rights violation and non-compliance of bank policies by the project implementersand the banks. The European Investment Bank also found the same in their investigation report done concurrently with the WB-IPN.
How did you come into the road industry in East Africa?
East Africa is a fast growing region in terms of development. There is no development that can be done without good roads network for movement of people and goods. All resources need by the development agencies need roads that connect project area to other areas which are sources of raw materials.
We have been involved in engaging with these development agencies in addressing problems arising from these projects and are directly affecting the local community. We believe that projects are very important to the country and the local community and all stakeholders should be engaged freely. The projects should improve the standard of living of the affected community in terms of social and economic activities.
What do you believe to be the greatest challenge facing the region that is holding back development (and any ideas how it can be overcome)?
The greatest challenge facing the region and holding back development is the issue of corruption. For instance Kenya, there are a lot of natural resources that can improve development record of the country. It has been a challenge to conduct good business since the rate of corruption in the region is very high. Resources are being diverted from targeted areas into individual pockets increasing the cost of development or denying the right persons what they deserve.
We have witnessed non-affected people benefiting at the expense of the affected persons. This can be eradicated when the government and anti-corruption agencies strengthen their operation to kerb this menace. It is also possible if the national government can cultivate a culture of corruption free society. I believe a positive and a changed society’s attitude can eradicate corruption in Kenya.
Where do you see the greatest opportunity in the industry right now, and how are you positioned to capture it as a business?
The making of National policies that strengthen the operation of the development organisation and strengthening of transparency and accountability can enhance speeding up the development of road networks. Ensuring that resources are directed to the targeted areas and supporting the directly affected people can reduce conflict and time wasting. The development of roads like the North Corridor, the Standard Gauge Railway line and the Thika highway can speed up development in the region and open up the country for more projects development.
I do support the development of the project, fight against corruption and empowering of the local community to be able to engage at the same leverage with the development agencies. This will solve conflict as well as improve the livelihood of the affected people.
If you could change one thing in the industry going forward what would it be?
I wish to encourage transparency and accountability. I support that any person found to have misappropriated public funds to be prosecuted and imprisoned without favour. I believe that if countries like Kenya fight corruption, development record can grow on a double digit annually. Corruption has held Kenya behind for a long time and it is high time to fight against it once and for all. I support that any organisation or company involved in corruption deals should be deregistered, and the directors to be prosecuted in a court of law. I also wish for the international donors to strengthen their policies and stand firm to prevent corruption. Donor countries can also make legislation that prevents firms in their regions from being involved in corruption.
What is your proudest achievement to date in the industry?
My greatest achievement so far is by working with the World Bank and European Investment Bank to investigate human rights violation by Kenya Electricity Expansion Project between 2014-15. The reports revealed that the livelihood of the affected persons was not improved but; instead of restoring to the former state, poverty increased. I propose that the projects should not impoverish the affected persons, degrade the environment, reduce regression and enhance right based operations including development of social amenities for the local people.