4 August 2012

Kenya: Activists' Pressure Blocks Sh138 Billion Nandi Dam

The government has canceled the planned Sh138 billion dam in Nandi County. The plans were shelved after environmentalists complained about the clearing of 1,000 acres of forest for the dam, which was to be financed by donors.

The Public Complaints Committee that investigates and determines environment related disputes has officially written to all government relevant agencies stopping continuation of the project that was partly to be funded by the Spanish government.

The Lake Basin Development Authority which was to implement the project, has been directed not to carry out any activities at the project site.

The PCC Chairperson, Florence Mwangangi in a letter dated July 10, 2012, says the National Environment Management Agency had not endorsed the project and hence cannot take off. "Following opposition to the project by groups, including the Ministry of Environment, we don't see why NEMA should carry out an environment impact assessment", said Mwangangi in the letter.

Yesterday, officials the Friends of Nandi Environment, which opposed the project, said they were happy with PCC's decision. The PCC, which has seven members has asked NEMA to write to LBDA and inform the authority that the project cannot take off. The team which visited the region to investigate complaints raised against the project has recommended the government to look for a new site for the project.

Mwangangi says in the letter that the project was to cost Sh138 billion and not Sh50 billion as earlier reported. Last month LBDA Managing Director Luke Kabok, said they were still carrying out necessary studies on the project, which is expected to take up more than 1,000 hectares of the Nandi South forest. The Nandi forest multi-purpose dam project was earmarked to produce 50 megawatts of electricity and part of the water was to be channelled through an underground tunnel to irrigate 170,000 hectares of land in Kano plains.

Part of the water was also to be supplied to homes in six districts in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western regions. "Our argument has been that we cannot allow the natural forest in Nandi to be destroyed. Such forests cannot be replanted and we can find an alternative site for the same project within Nandi", said Fone Chairman David Chumo.

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