case study

Spurring Conversation On Oil in Kenya

The Challenge

As extractives, including oil and gas, are increasingly discovered and exploited in East Africa, the inability to address issues surrounding land rights, free prior and informed consent, government revenue collection and the need to balance local and national priorities with international standards of transparency could lead to several challenges—and these are often most acutely felt by local communities. Yet, discussions on the potential and impact of the oil and gas sector often focus on the potential economic gains, with very little emphasis on the impact such projects have on individuals, families and communities living around the areas where the resource is discovered.

Our Approach

Burness organized a media roundtable where Ford Foundation grantees joined other influential experts to tell the “human” story of oil in Kenya, one that looks beyond the prevalent economic narrative and unpacks the need to consult affected communities. We secured a diverse panel of three speakers comprised of experts from Friends of Lake Turkana, Kenya Land Alliance and Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, all of which are leading voices among the civil society working with communities impacted by extractive projects across Kenya. The panel also included community members who live in areas where oil has been discovered in Kenya and who spoke about their experiences since oil was discovered in their community. We organized the event from conception to execution —from booking the venue and handling logistics, to selecting a moderator and developing a compelling agenda, through to helping speakers prepare their remarks—and promoted the event to media.

Results and Impact

We secured attendance of more than 40 journalists, resulting in widespread media coverage in international and local outlets including Devex (USA), Citizen (Kenya), Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Kenya News Agency, Standard (Kenya) and Xinhua (China). Importantly, all the stories highlighted the need for adequate consultation and engagement with communities where oil has been discovered in Kenya. Watch this video for an overview of key discussions from the event.

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