Press Release: Oil in Turkana Paves the Way for Community Conservation

Press Release – Wednesday 28th October, 2015

Tullow Oil and Africa Oil have entered into a five-year grant agreement with the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) that will support communities in Turkana and West Pokot Counties to establish and operate six community conservancies. These conservancies will aim to transform lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources.

The pastoralist communities of Turkana and Pokot live in one of the toughest environments in the region. In the semi-arid landscape of Kenya’s northwest, infrastructure is poorly developed, delivery of education and health services is challenging, and a lack of reliable water sources limits opportunities. However, major new economic projects, including the potential commercialisation of oil resources, the Northern Corridor Project and LAPPSET are on the horizon. Helping communities to understand and benefit from the impacts these will have, build the resilience they need to cope with change, and integrate traditional livelihoods with the mainstream Kenyan economy will be the key to ensuring prosperity. This is what the partnership between the Northern Rangelands Trust, Tullow Oil and Africa Oil aims to achieve, through the establishment of community conservancies. 

The community conservancies; Lokichar, Lochakula, Katilu and Kainuk in Turkana County, and Masol and Pellow in West Pokot County, are expected to help communities living in these areas, to better manage their natural resources, to tackle insecurity, to build upon their livestock-based livelihoods, to engage with and benefit from pending changes and through this process promote integrated development. The conservancies will do this through promoting sustainable land management and wildlife conservation, developing security and peace-making programmes and offering alternative livelihoods for pastoralists. The conservancies are also expected to create around 180 jobs, through the local recruitment of conservancy management staff and rangers.

“This agreement is part of Tullow’s commitment aimed at ensuring that the oil and gas sector brings real and long lasting benefits to host communities where we operate and that the impacts of oil development are adequately managed, ” said Martin Mbogo, the Tullow Kenya country manager.

As part of the grant agreement, NRT will train locally elected conservancy board members, conduct workshops on conservancy management, engage community members in peace building, and develop community enterprises. Currently NRT is helping communities across northern Kenya manage 27 conservancies, to run effective community institutions, to practice rangeland management in over 1.8 million hectares, to improve security and build peace, and to develop markets and conserve wildlife. NRT will bring these experiences to local communities living in Turkana and West Pokot.

“Livestock raiding may limit access to grazing lands and thereby increase vulnerability during critical periods. Similarly, competition for natural resources, especially grazing lands, is a key source of insecurity in Turkana and West Pokot. As such the establishment and operation of community conservancies to promote peace, manage the rangelands, explore alternative markets for livestock and promote diversification of livelihood activities will help improve lives” said Dr Mike Harrison, NRT’s CEO.

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