The drying of the Tana Delta and the onset of climate change, Kenya

In August 2007, the Tana River changed its course due to massive siltation caused by high soil erosion from the Tana River catchments, writes Riungu Geoffrey Murithi from Kenya (Africa). The situation was worsened by the tremendous reduction of water in the river due to reduced water in tributaries and high evaporation rates as global temperatures rise. At risk were the subsistence farmers from the Boni, Bajuni, Wakone and Wasanya people and the fishers from the Malakote minority communities who depend on river waters for irrigation and fishing, respectively. Communities living downstream face severe hunger due to the disruption of their livelihood systems for almost a period of two years. Currently, although the river was diverted to its original course, the causes of this disastrous event have not been addressed.  

The Tana Delta wetlands, which support numerous lives, are now becoming seasonal, while others have dried out completely. This has affected local livelihoods, especially the pastoralists who have lost almost all their flocks due to the continued dry spell. These critical ecosystems used to act as fallback areas for pastoralists during dry seasons. Salt infiltration into farms is now being experienced by farmers who have never witnessed this before. This is perceived to result from rising sea levels and to be due to the fact that the mangrove vegetation along the coast has been degraded through deforestation.

The change in climate has not spared the fauna and flora either. Its impacts can be perceived from the increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict in the area, as wild animals (herbivores and carnivores) invade the villages as they hunt for water and food. The farming and pastoralist community are also turning to hunting and gathering in the wild, which is already practiced by the Watta minority groups. At stake is the wild fauna and flora, which currently face too much pressure.

Ironically, the livelihoods of minority indigenous groups in the Tana Delta are also threatened by the opportunity brought about by the Kyoto Protocol of carbon trading and carbon sequestration plans. Due to their insecure land tenure system, these groups are facing displacement as the government and its development partners are taking advantage of the situation to bring in tourist projects. The projects are sugar-coated with strategic and unclear components on clean energy production and employment creation for the locals who are uneducated and poorly informed about such technological developments. For example, there are proposals to convert more than 100 hectares of the Tana Delta for large-scale sugar production and Jatropha plantations to be used for the production of ethanol and biodiesel. The local communities may not receive any of the profits from these plantations since they have always been left out of decisions pertaining to their environment. Furthermore, these projects will displace thousands of people from indigenous minority groups as well as erode their traditions, which are the pillar of community unity and act as a source of hope and inspiration in times of catastrophes. In addition, these plantations might prevent future efforts by these indigenous groups to develop the land for their own needs.

 The indigenous groups in the Tana Delta have relied upon their traditional knowledge to unveil the catastrophes in their surroundings. But due to the unpredictability of local climatic conditions, such as planting and flooding seasons, coupled with lack of scientific knowledge, this knowledge seems inadequate. This said, it is nonetheless crucial to their psychological, social-economical and ecological survival.

We suggest that indigenous groups must be consulted before negotiations commence about any carbon sequestration projects and biofuel projects. We further submit that climate change coping interventions, and particularly application of the Kyoto protocol, should be guided by ethical thinking and respect for the civil and democratic rights of the disadvantaged and marginalized.


Furadan in the August House

Have you ever wondered what transpired behind the Furadan saga and parliaments involvement? Here is what happened on the 2nd of June 2009 in the Kenyan August House:

Mr. Mututho asked the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife: –

(a) whether he is aware of the airing of a damaging documentary on Kenya in the international media on 14th April, 2009 by CBS, a television network in the USA, regarding the death of lions in a Kenyan Park;

(b) whether he could confirm that the pride of seven lions found dead in the parks were as a result of Furadan poisoning; and,

(c) When he will, through NEMA, effect an immediate ban of Furadan chemical, pending further investigations.

The Minister for Forestry and Wildlife (Dr. Wekesa): Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to reply.

(a) I am aware of the airing of a damaging documentary on Kenya in the international media on 14th April, 2009 by CBS, a television network in the USA, regarding the death of lions in a Kenyan Park.

(b) I can confirm that a pride of three lions died last year in the Mara Triangle as a result of Furadan poisoning, to which the CBS documentary referred.

(c) After the CBS documentary, Farm Machinery and Chemicals (FMC) Corporation, the manufacturers of Furadan stopped further shipment of the product to Kenya. The Corporation is in the process of buying back Furadan stocks in the Kenyan market. In the meantime, my Ministry is spearheading the creation of an inter-Ministerial Committee on Wildlife Poisoning in Kenya, which will provide guidance on the issue

of banning Furadan chemical in the country.

Mr. Mututho: Mr. Speaker, Sir that is a very good answer from the Minister. He has admitted three deaths but they were actually seven. I wish to table the post-mortem results showing that the deaths were seven.

(Mr. Mututho laid the document on the Table)

As late as last week, two more lions died. This was published by the local media. The Question is: When are you banning the product?

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir, the issue of banning Furadan involves the Ministry of Agriculture. This is why, in my reply, I have said that an inter-Ministerial Committee has been formed to address the issue. We are aware that Furadan has caused deaths of lions in national parks. We are, therefore, concerned and would like to have it banned.

Mr. Konchella: Mr. Speaker, Sir, while I thank the Minister for that answer, I would like to say that this is a serious matter. Ministers have to be serious. He cannot say that he has to wait and consult another Ministry. They must be able to work and make decisions! They should not delay making decisions on issues that are going to kill institutions in this country. We are going to leave tourism to our neighbors because all the lions are going to die. This thing is widespread. Vultures and hyenas are dying in Isiolo and many parts of the country, where there is wildlife, as a result of this chemical. So, when the Minister says that he is going to consult, to me, it is not the right answer. He should say that the chemical is banned and order every shopkeeper to withdraw it today and not in the near future!

Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have a problem because of mismanagement. We have directed Questions to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government, who also, is not able to make decisions to stop corruption. In the process, people are killing these animals because they do not see any benefits out of them. Can these two Ministers undertake to protect the wildlife for the benefit of Kenya? These chemicals are being used by people who have no value for these animals because people are taking money as they wish—

Mr. Speaker: Order, Mr. Konchella! What is your question? Ask one question!

Mr. Konchella: Mr. Speaker, Sir, could the Minister immediately stop further use of this chemical, order its withdrawal from every shop and ensure that the police arrest anybody who is stocking the chemical in his or her shop?

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir, with due regard to my colleague, we have institutions and I think we should respect them. We have a body called the Pest Control Board that is under the mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture. This is an area for the Minister for Agriculture who has the mandate, through that Board, to actually ban this chemical. I want to give more information in respect to the acquisition of this pesticide. It is so cheap that people who want to use it on their farms acquire it very easily. The pastoralists and people who live around the national parks also get it very cheaply. As a Government, we actually want to ban it.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, this committee is not going to take a long time. We will sit together and ensure the chemical is banned.

Mr. Shakeel: Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think the Minister is not giving us the right answer. There is the Poisons Board and this is poison which has killed our lions and other animals. What is the Minister doing to ban it? We have less than 600 lions in this country. Seven of them have died. Each lion is worth over Kshs10 million, are we going to sue the company that sells this chemical?

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir, I sympathize with the Member for Kisumu Town East. However, I want to assure him and the House that this is a matter that we are taking very seriously. The Pharmacy and Poisons Board that he is referring to is under the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation. As I said, we are going to ban the chemical. The company which manufactures this chemical is in the process of buying back Furadan stocks in the Kenyan market.


So, the company is actually withdrawing Furadan from the market.

Mr. Ngugi: Mr. Speaker, Sir, I come from an agricultural constituency and we have used Furadan for the last 30 years. Furadan could have caused the death of seven lions but is it the only chemical in Kenya that can kill lions or are we going to ban every other chemical that can kill lions? Could this be a trade war just as we saw with the Alvaro drink?

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have other chemicals that are poisonous to wildlife. I, therefore, agree with the Member that it is not only Furadan. There are many others, for instance,Scenic which is very poisonous to livestock and wild animals. However, what actually happens is that the people who use Furadan are usually retaliating for their animals having been killed by the lions. They put the chemical on the carcasses and when the lions come to feed on them, they feed on poisoned carcasses.

Mr. C. Kilonzo: Mr. Speaker, Sir, now that the Minister has confirmed that this is an illegal act by farmers killing the lions, what is the Government doing to apprehend the farmers?

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir, in quite a number of cases, we have arrested the culprits and they have been taken to court. In some of the cases we have had to take action. When we do that, they do agree that they actually did it.

Dr. Nuh: Mr. Speaker, Sir, since the Minister has confirmed that the act of using poisons against wild animals is retaliation by farmers or those who live next to the national parks, what is he doing to better the relationship between the animals and the people who live near the parks? The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has not been kind to the people.

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir that is a very good question. I want to confirm to the House that, along with other measures we try, for example, to fence our national parks. We have done that in many national parks. However, we have also undertaken civic education to educate those living near our national parks about the dangers and advantages of having wildlife around us. It is an ongoing process of educating people that this is a natural resource and we must conserve it.

Mr. Speaker: Last question, Mr. Mututho!

Mr. Mututho: Mr. Speaker, Sir, now that the Minister has admitted that FMCC is withdrawing the chemical from the market, which amounts to admission of public liability, how much is he planning to demand in compensation for the big and small wildlife and livestock lost as a result of poisoning?

Dr. Wekesa: Mr. Speaker, Sir, we do not have plans to sue FMCC, but individuals that are concerned, if they so wish, the Government is willing to assist them do so.

Mr. Shakeel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, Sir. Is the Minister in order to say that they have no plans to sue for compensation for loss of property of the Kenyan people?

Mr. Speaker: Order, Mr. Shakeel! The Minister is in order! He is entitled to give an answer that he believes to be correct. So, if he says that they have no intention to sue, that is a good answer. Nothing out of order.

Wildlife Poisoning in Kenya

Did you know that since 2002, Kenya has lost about 700 lions? No! So it will come as a surprise to you that of those 700 lions, only 190 have been accounted for.

Shocking is it not?

But it is not only lions that are being poisoned with such gay abandon. But birds and any other form of wildlife that man considers to be a “threat” to his way of life.

The substance identified to be the causative agent is carbofuran. According to Wikipedia, “it is one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides. It is marketed under the trade names Furadan, by FMC Corporation and Curater, among several others. It is used to control insects in a wide variety of field crops, including potatoes, corn and soybeans. It is a systemic insecticide, which means that the plant absorbs it through the roots, and from here the plant distributes it throughout its organs (mainly vessels, stems and leaves; not the fruits), where insecticidal concentrations are attained. Carbofuran also has contact activity against pests.”

In Kenya Furadan is the only carbamate in the market. FMC corporation, the makers of Furadan, denied that their product is responsible for wildlife poisoning in the country.  They also blatantly denied all evidence collected on the impacts of Furadan on wildlife in the country.

The effects of Furadan on wildlife are just sickening as shown in the video below.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

There is a debate in the political circles on banning furadan from the market. But what stops it from coming into the country with another name? Say Carbodan or Carfudan? The human mind is creative.

Pressure is needed. decision makers need to completly ban ANY product that contains carbofuran.

We need YOUR help.

How can we get these poisons out of our systems? If they are this lethal to animals, what do you think they will do to YOU?

Wildlife Stakeholder Meeting

The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) organized a groundbreaking meeting of players in the Conservation sector last month to forge a new coalition around wildlife issues and to review the implications of new Kenyan wild life legislation going through parliament.

It was the first time the six organisations had held a joint meeting and participants agreed that more could be achieved by acting together than by each organisation acting alone and on its own mandate or constitution.

Present at the May 22 meeting were Steve Itela (Youth for Conservation), James Ndungu (Africa Conservation Center), Inge Burchand (Friends of Nairobi National Park), Hadley Becha (EAWLS), Margaret Otieno (Wildlife Clubs of Kenya), Phylis Gichuhi (EAWLS), Patrick Muraguri (Kenya Wetlands Forum), and Jeremy Onyango (EAWLS).

From the onset, it was agreed that local communities profit very little or in some cases not at all, from wildlife enterprises and conservation initiatives carried out on their lands. They are hardly ever involved in the use of wildlife as a product. In the meantime KWS, tour operators and private sector investors make money off wildlife with no consultation with or benefits to  the community.

Wildlife is mostly viewed as a product for economic gain alone, hence a great need for and rate of exploitation, participants said. The many wildlife organisations all have their own mandates and constitutions, which means that working together is complicated by the way organisations view each other as rivals. Additonally, most agencies are donor driven so  most activities are aimed at rapid disbursement of short term funding instead of long term support for the sector.

There exists no code of conduct in the sector, and no set standards of operation. There isn’t even a regulatory body to check and monitor activities being conducted in the sector, the meeting noted.

After a lengthy discussion, participants agreed on the following as steps towards solving and addressing issues in the sector:

1.  Participants agreed that there is a need to scrutinize the latest draft of the Wildlife Bill. Areas of contention need to be highlighted, as well as aspects in the sector that the bill doesn’t address, and areas that need to be removed. This task was bestowed upon Mr. Ole Kamuaro of ILRI, and Inge Burchand of Friends of Nairobi National Park. It was agreed that this task was to be done and a report presented to participants in two
weeks from the day of the meeting.

2.  After the discussion, we were at a loss as to ways of bringing players in the wildlife sector together. But a suggestion was made that maybe an annual awards ceremony could be held. Awards could be given for best practice in the sector. It was a notable idea, and it was agreed that it would be discussed further at the next meeting.

3. Another idea was that of having a general discussion of issues facing the sector. Climate change affect all aspects of the sector, be it conservation, tourism, and even the general environment. This was suggested as talking point to bring all players together for discussion.

4. Participants felt that there was a great need to have more sessions such as this one. In the next meeting it will be discussed further and concrete ways to address this and other point raised will also be discussed.

5.  Although it was not decided on how it should be
done and who should constitute it, participants said that there is an urgent
need to establish a regulatory body in the sector.

All these points will be discussed in detail in the next meeting that was set for the 18th of June 2009.

Developing a National Framework for Community Based Tourism

This was a stakeholder workshop held facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), based in the UK and the Ministry of Tourism.  The workshop brought together various players in the tourism subsector. Present at the workshop were several representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, Eco Tourism Kenya, East African Wildlife Society, African Wildlife Foundation, COMSEC, Youth for Conservation, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, National Museums of Kenya, among others. The aim was to develop a National Framework Policy Document for Community Based Tourism (CBT).  COMSEC in April 2007 was approached by the Ministry of Tourism to provide technical assistance for the promotion of Community Based Tourism. The application was considered and in August of the same year, a scoping study was conducted to see the viability of such a venture. The application was approved n October 2007 and was meant to start in February 2008. But due to the political unrest, it never took off.

Delegates in this workshop were introduced to the project with the aim of getting industry players opinions and inputs towards the formulation of a framework for CBT. This was the first of a series of steps. The next step is to hold consultative meetings and forums on a national level with the aim of having an Inception Report by the 26th of June 2009. The secretariat aims to have a draft National Framework by the 31st of August, and a FINAL framework towards the end of September.

It was an interesting meeting, although it was felt that more deliberations were needed as certain contentious issues could not be agreed upon unanimously. Further consultations will be hosted and facilitated by the Ministry of Tourism, who made this clear to the participants.

Do you think Kenya can sustain community based tourism ventures? Are they viable and self sustaining not only in the short term, but in the long run?

The Draft Wildlife Bill 2009

The East African Wildlife Society is involved in the redrafting of the Wildlife Bill in Kenya. Currently, as it stands, the bill is with the ministry of Forestry and Wildlife awaiting presentation to cabinet for approval, whereupon it will be tabled in Parliament, and hopefully ascended to law by the President.

Did you know that Kenya is still operating on the Wildlife Legislation of 1975? How much has the wildlife scene changed since 1975? Is the 1975 legislation enough to deal with the problems that face wildlife today?

Based on this, support is needed to encourage the minister to present the Bill urgently to cabinet, as the Wildlife Sector in the country is facing serious threats.

Any form of support is welcome. Be it through publicizing the urgent need for the bill to be made law, or by joining our voices unitedly in this endeavor.

In your opinion, what do you think is the best way to implore the minister to hasten the process?

Fight for survival: Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary vs. Sinohydro Construction Company

 Sinohydro Construction company, a  Chinese company contracted by the Kenya Government to conduct road works on the Emali – Loitokitok road,  had entered into an agreement with a land owner by the name of Kaleila Ole Kilikiya for the use of his land for the development of a quarry and camp for the construction team. The land upon which this development or  planned development are to be undertaken is situated next to the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary on part of the Kimana Swamp. The land and the neighbouring Kimana Sanctuary are part of the wildlife migratory route between Amboseli National Park and the Chyulu National park, as well as being a habitat to wildlife.  The area is also part of an initiative by African Wildlife Foundation and landowners to conserve the natural qualities of the land for purposes of wildlife conservation. Below are some pictures of the proposed site and work being carried out.

A nearby quarry camp, similar to the one being built in the wildlife corridor. Courtesy of  Amboseli Trust for Elephants

The staff camp is located on the east side of the road, directly adjacent to the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary, a community sanctuary providing benefits to members of the Kimana Group Ranch.

Map showing quarry and camp location in relation to Wildlife Corridors and Kimana Sanctuary

The proposed activity of Sinohydro iis in violation of their EIA report. According to Section 4.3.3 of the EIA, the wildlife corridor is identified  as an important feature of the environment. The EIA further states that the company is not to engage in any form of activity in and around protected areas, wildlife corridors and community conservation areas.  Section 8.7.1 of the EIA states that “ Contractors camp shall…NOT be installed in the areas used as wildlife grazing areas or migratory corridors…” The camp is in a migratory corridor and an area used by wildlife for grazing.

Based on a formal complaint sent to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) by AWF on the matter, NEMA on the 24th of April issued a stop order to the Sinohydro company. This was a cease and desist order.

However, on Saturday 25th April, Sinohydro Corporation Limited began detonating heavy explosives in a sensitive wildlife area, which appeared to be the start of the excavation of an illegal rock quarry, effectively signalling the end of a key wildlife corridor and potential tourism revenue for local communities.

NEMA officers took the stop order to the site on the 27th of April. However, on the ground, the NEMA officers first went to the DC of the area to seek permission to issue the order to the company. This was of course rejected.

The NEMA officers hence decided to issue the stop order the next day, the 28th. But according to reports, the stop order only comes into effect after 48 hours of delivery. In this time, the company continued with its work of blasting and clearing land for the quarry and camp.

Based on this disturbing information, AWF along with a consortium of conservation agencies, decided it would be prudent and wise to get their own court injunction, as NEMA was proving to be, pardon the language, completely useless.

On the 30th of April, representatives from AWF, East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS), Amboseli Trust for Elephants, and Ol Donyo Wuas, met at the offices of Kaplan and Straton to begin the process of filing a court injunction against Sinohydro. The law requires that the case needed to be filed in Machakos, which is the jurisdiction of the Kimana wetland. Unfortunately, the judge in the high court of Machakos was, and still is away on holiday. Attempts to have the injunction filed in Nairobi bore little fruit as the courts officials insisted on its being filed in Machakos.

Friday May 1st being the holiday that it was, little could be done in way of proceeding. However the advocates pursued the matter over the weekend and assured us of a legal document by the start of business on Monday, 4th May 2009.

AWF and all agencies have planned to present the injunction in person with the presence of the media to the Sinohydro Director General in their offices.

This initiative led to the support from various media house such as the Standard newspaper that ran a story on the 1st of May, Nation Newspaper, another Kenyan daily, ran a similar story on May 6th.. Al Jazeera News network made arrangements to visit the site. Meanwhile, National Geographic, and Wildlife Extra (have run the story) expressed interest on the issue and offered to run the story. Also a letter was sent to the Chinese Consulate in Nairobi, alerting them on the situation. No response was received from them.

This initiative is backed and supported by:

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), African Conservation Center (ACC), Great Plains Conservation, Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Ol Donyo Wuas, Luca Safari, Dr. David Western, Amboseli Research and Conservation Project, Satao Elerai, David Sheldrick Wilderness Trust, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Nature Kenya, Maasailand Preservation Trust, Severin Kenya, Ol Kanjua Tented Safari Camp, Campi Ya Kanzi, among others.

The area DC is of course for the development and is accused of abusing his office to keep the local communities quiet. He threatened the communities with force if they so much as met together to protest the destruction of the conservancy.

Attached are documents and pictures showing the work being done by the Sinohydro company and its impacts thus far.

Fencing of camp site

Kenyan Children to Exhibit Pictures in RAMSAR CoP 10 – South Korea

 The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention 1971) is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for local, national and regional actions; and international co-operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

The tenth  meeting of Contracting Parties of the Convention on Wetlands (COP 10) will be held in South Korea in October, 2008. During the conference there will be an exhibition of children’s art to celebrate our cultural diversity and supportive role of wetlands. Each party state to the convention has been invited to present art work created by children aged between 5-18 years interpreting the COP 10 theme: Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People. The winning pictures will be exhibited at the conference center and will be open to the public as well as COP 10 participants. After the conference all pictures will be the property of National Museums of Kenya and will be exclusively used to raise awareness about wetlands in Kenya.

The East African Wild Life Society, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service and Wildlife Clubs of Kenya are working together in organizing the competion and selecting the winning pictures, which will be displayed in Korea.

We are kindly appealing for donations of the following items laptops, binoculars, digital cameras, medals, book vouchers and trips to Ramsar sites and Game Parks so that we can reward the children who come up with the best paintings for putting in their efforts towards this worthy cause that will go a long way in conserving our wetlands

LNCG Faults Tanzanian State Corporation on Lake Natron

I just received a press statement from the Ken Mwathe of the Lake Natron Consultative Group which has been protesting against the soda ash plant in this important Laser Flamingo breeding site. The press statement, which is date 10 July 2008, protests against the decision made by the National Development Corporation (NDC) of Tanzania that the project would proceed as it had been designed despite Tata Chemical’s announcement that they would await a Ramsar Management Plan being developed for Lake Natron. The LNCG also faults the statement made by NDC on the basis that the NDC is a partner in the project and it cannot make the decision to proceed with the project according to the Tanzanian law, which makes this decision illegal. The LNCG has also defended itself against the NDC’s accusations that LNCG was behind the problems the project is currently facing. They lay the blame on the NDC for failing to advice the government on proper procedure. There are other concerns and they are reproduced here below by request of Mr Mwathe.

Read on.


Press Statement

Nairobi, 10th July 2008


The Lake Natron Consultative Group (The Group) takes note of the statement by the
National Development Corporation (NDC), the co-investor with Tata Chemicals Ltd
(TLC), insisting that the Lake Natron Soda Ash Project will go ahead.

We also take note of the statement that The Group is responsible for the woes now
facing the soda ash project, especially what NDC termed “negative publicity”.

Further, the assertion that NDC is concerned about the environment and has
responded by shifting the project site (32 kms away) and commissioned a new
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Integrated Management
Planning process for the Ramsar site, is taken note of. NDC’s statement also stated that
the soda ash project will not harm the lesser flamingos, the local people and
biodiversity in general.

The Group’s Response

The Lake Natron Consultative Group would like to state as follows:

a. The statement by NDC goes counter to the recent announcement by Tata
Chemicals Ltd that it has withdrawn the project as originally conceptualized.
Quoted in The Hindustan Times of India, the TCL Managing Director Mr Homi
Khusrokhan said:

“The Company is not in a position to take a view with regard to
resumption ‘till it has a chance to examine the final approved Ramsar
Management Plan currently under preparation for Lake Natron.” The
Hindustan Times story titled Green Groups halt Tata Plant in
Tanzania also quoted Mr Khusrokhan saying, “…the original
Environment and Social Impact Assessment…..should be treated as

It would appear that the NDC issued the statement on its own behalf and not on
behalf of TCL. So, is the NDC on its own?

b. The NDC is not in a position to determine the fate of the proposed project since it is
also a player in the process. According to Tanzanian laws, the Minister for
Environment in the Vice President’s Office has the final word. So far, Hon Dr
Batilda Buriani has demonstrated fairness and objectivity with regard to this issue
and we highly commend her for this.

c. The woes now facing the proposed soda ash project are largely attributable to
NDC. As a government agency working with Tata Chemicals Ltd, the NDC failed to
advice the government on the need to follow the due process as prescribed by
Tanzanian laws. AT the same time NDC failed to defend the soda ash project in all
the stakeholder meetings held to discuss the issue.

NDC did not insist that all the necessary information and data (such as feasibility
and cost-benefit analysis) be in place before coming out in public on the project.
The result was the disaster that was the Environmental and Social Impact
Assessment (ESIA) report, which was faulted by the Technical Advisory Committee
of the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) on 2nd November
2007 and was overwhelmingly rejected during the public hearing on 23rd January
2008. Stakeholders further rejected the project during the Ramsar Advisory
Mission (RAM) in February and the World Bank meeting on 30th April 2008 in Dar
es Salaam.

d. The NDC did not demand that an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the
Ramsar site be developed before floating the soda ash proposal. This contravened
the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance of which
Tanzania is a signatory. Instead, the investor decided to put the cart before the

To be credited, however, is the new Minister for Environment (Hon Dr Batilda
Burhani) who issued an order on 1st May 2008 that no further project processes
touching on the soda ash project will be allowed until the Integrated
Management Plan for Lake Natron is developed and approved. It is therefore
belated for NDC to state that it would ensure that an IMP is done.

e. The statement by NDC on the impacts of the proposed project are contrary a
document developed by its own consultants. The ESIA Report explains in detail the
negative social and ecological impacts of the project, which include impacts on
flamingos, impacts on pastoral livelihoods, tourism and pressure on natural
resources (including firewood and water). It also mentions positive impacts among
them 150 permanent jobs and 2,000 casual ones and “millions of US dollars” to the
Tanzanian economy. The new “perspectives” on these issues by NDC are therefore
not tenable unless backed by new studies.

f. Strong opposition to the soda ash project has come from Tanzanians of all walks of
life, professionals and the donor community. In addition, local communities at
Pinyiny, Ngare Sero, Matali, Gelai, Kitumbeine and other villages around Lake
Natron have said “No”.

These local people are not environmentalists but poor people who are worried
about the negative impacts of the project on their sources of livelihoods (e.g
ecotourism, pastoralism). They are also worried about being displaced from their
land and a trampling of their rights. The claim that so many million US $ will be
pumped to the national economy has little relevance to the local people.

g. The Group has stated before that shifting the factory site 32 kms away does not
necessarily mitigate the negative impacts of the proposed project. If anything, it is
likely to spread the impacts over a wider area thus leaving a huge ecological
footprint on the landscape. Critically important, the raw material will still be
removed from Lake Natron using a complex grid of pipes and pumps. The
negative impacts on the Lesser Flamingos and other forms of biodiversity that
depend on the lake are therefore not likely to change.

h. Finally, The Group would not to like to see the Kenyan soda ash mining experience
replayed in Tanzania. In spite of being in operation for over 100 years, soda ash
mining at Lake Magadi in Kenya has not benefited the local community.
Government reports (CBS 2003) show that Magadi Division is one of the poorest in
Kajiado District and in the country, in spite of the massive investment by Magadi
Soda Company (which has now been acquired by Tata Chemicals Ltd).

To the contrary, the Magadi Soda ash project has caused displacement of local
communities from their land, environmental degradation, poor health and now an
acute shortage of fresh water after the construction of the second plant. Until
recently, the company paid 10 Kenyan cents for 1 tonne of the soda ash raw
material (1 US $ = 60 Ksh and 1 Ksh = 100 cents). This was reviewed to Ksh 26 per
tonne in a new land lease that was opposed by the local community but extended
by the government in controversial circumstances

i. As The Group, we shall continue to engage in a debate founded on facts
regarding this issue. We owe it to the local community, the global community and
future generations to ensure that the resources at Lake Natron are not jeopardised
by development that is not sustainable. Tata Chemicals Ltd seems to be in
agreement with this. We now ask the National Development Corporation to do
the same.

In conclusion, The Group would like to urge the Minister of natural Resources and
Tourism and the Minister of Environment in Tanzania, to ensure that no further
processes related to the proposed soda ash project are undertaken before the
Integrated Management Plan for the Lake Natron Ramsar site is completed.

The plan should be preceded by detailed studies, including the ecology and
breeding behaviour of the lesser flamingos and cost benefit analysis.


For more details contact:

Ken Mwathe
Coordinator, Lake Natron Consultative Group

BirdLife International,
Africa Partnership Secretariat,
ICIPE Campus, Kasarani Road,
P.O Box 3502 – 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 8562246/8562490
Fax +254 20 8562259
Office cell +254 734 600905 or +254 722 200238
Personal Cell +254 733 926191


1. East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS)
2. Nature Kenya
3. BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat
4. African Conservation Centre (ACC)
5. Youth For Conservation
6. South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO)
7. Kenya Wetlands Forum (KWF)
8. Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE)
9. Kenya Community Based Tourism Network (KECOBAT)
10. Environmental Liaison Centre International (ELCI)
11. Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Law (CREEL)
12. Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK)
13. Ethiopia Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS)
14. Born Free Foundation
15. Uganda Wildlife Society
16. Nature Uganda
17. Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), Tanzania
18. Forum for Environment (Ethiopia)
19. Horn of Africa – Regional Environment Centre/Network, Addis
Ababa University, Ethiopia
20. Djibouti Nature
21. The Heritage Society
22. Game Rangers Association of Africa
23. Maa Civil Society Forum
24. Lake Naivasha Riparian Association
25. American Council For Wildlife Preservation
26. PIBI Biological Research Foundation
27. Kenya Alliance of Residents Association
28. Kenya Water and Sanitation Network (KEWASNET)
29. Ecotourism Kenya
30. Ilkisongo Pastoralist Initiatives (IPI), Monduli & Longido Tanzania
31. Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET)
32. Miliru-Bushi Organization Kenya (MIBOK)
33. Wildlife for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia


Extensive Media Coverage for Tana Delta Press Conference

Let me first thank Sheryl and Louise for their comments. You are both right that ‘the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing’. It is disturbing to see that the Kenya government has ignored some very informed protests and have refused to learn from examples in other countries – such as the one mentioned by Sheryl. Clearly, we have seen the developed countries use up their natural resources only to realize their mistakes and try to repair the damage. Should the developing world follow this route? My guess is NO. We cant make the same mistake while all the warning signs are in the open for all to see.

Speaking of which, environmental lobbyists haven’t given up. As I said in my previous post, the conservationists held a press conference last Wednessday (25 June 2008) and there was resounding response from the major local and some international media houses.

I recieved today an email from one of the organizers of the conference, Serah Munguti of Nature Kenya, and I thought it wise to share important information contained in it with you.

The following publicity resulted from the Press conference held yesterday:

National electronic coverage on Wednesday 25th June 2008:

  • NTV 7 O’clock news;
  • KTN 9 O’clock Business news;
  • KBC 9 O’clock Business news;
  • Citizen TV 9 O’clock Business News;
  • KBC 11 O’clock late night news;
  • Citizen 11 O’clock late night news;
  • Kiss FM 7pm news bulletin;
  • Kiss FM 8pm news bulletin;
  • Classic FM 7pm news bulletin;
  • Classic FM 8pm news bulletin

Print media coverage 26 June 2008:

  • The Standard page 27;
  • Business Daily page 7;
  • Nairobi Star page 12

In addition to this extensive coverage on the local print and electronic media the following action has also beeen taken

  • Wetlands International issued a press release calling on the Kenya Government to reverse its decision on the Sugar plantation project in the Tana Wetlands.
  • Pollmans Tours & Safaris , a national tour operator, has send concerns (documents) to Robert Hepworth of the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals-African, European and West Asian waterbirds programme (CMS/AEWA) for action. He will also engage the tourism industry through the Kenya Association of Tour Operators to mobilize action against TISP.
  • Nature Kenya and the BirdLife Africa Partnership are putting together an international petition from BirdLife Africa Partners from 22 countries on the basis of the international significance of the Tana River Delta Important Bird Area.
  • A Rocha Kenya has also set up a Tana River Delta website, for those who have information that they wish to share in this campaign (for this website) you can contact or to

The way forward
The conveners of this press conference have resolved to:

  • Carry out in-depth media interviews and write opinion articles for media
  • Engage international development agencies and foreign missions and embassies in Kenya
  • Engage the EU market that buys 40% of Mumias sugar
  • Engage indigenous peoples organisations to protest against the human rights issues of TISP

For the Record
Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) Ltd. and Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA), in a planned private joint venture, are proposing to turn 20,000 hectares of the mostly pristine Tana River Delta into sugarcane plantations. The main features of the Tana Integrated Sugar Project (TISP) are: 16,000 ha of irrigated sugarcane production through estate; 4,000 ha of outgrower systems; water supply to the project; a sugar factory and
power co-generation facility of up to 34 megawatts capacity; an ethanol production plant; and livestock supporting activities, including fisheries. On 11 June 2008 Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) approved the project’s EIA. Environmental organisations are opposed to NEMA’s decision citing the impact of the project on the Tana Delta’s ecology, biodiversity and local people’s livelihoods.