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Biofuels plantation farming in Dakatcha, Kenya


An Italian-owned company, Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd(KJEL) had proposed to convert the Dakatcha Woodland to plant Jatropha curcas, a biofuel crop on 50,000 hectares, and started clearing part of the woodland and cutting indigenous vegetation even before an EIA was made public for comments. There was strong opposition from Nature Kenya and other institutions because the project had already showed lack of accountability; first, the site hosts rare and threatened species such as the bird Clarkes Weaver. Then, jatropha may produce more greenhouse gases than it will save; finally, there was no comprehensive biofuels policy in Kenya. As a result, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) suspended the project because of environmental concerns, but suggested to scale it down to pilot level in order to prove sustainability before an EIA licence could be issued.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Biofuels plantation farming in Dakatcha, Kenya
State or province:Coast Province
Location of conflict:Malindi District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific commodities:
Carbon offsets
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd proposed to lease 50,000 Hectares of Trust Land in Bungale area from the County Council of Malindi for Jatropha Cultivation within an initial period of 33 years.

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Project area:50000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd from Italy - belonging to Nuove Iniziative Industriali, Italy, of the Orlandi family
Nuove Iniziative Industriali Srl from Italy
Relevant government actors:National Environment Management Authority , Kenya Wildlife Service; Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources management Authority
International and Finance InstitutionsFinnish Embassy from Finland
Spanish Embassy from Spain
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Action Aid International, Community Development Trust Fund, Nature Kenya, BirdLife International, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, East African Wild Life Society, Kenya Wetlands Forum, Kenya Forests Working Group, A Rocha Kenya, Community Based Organisations
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Global warming, Soil erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:-The developer should explore alternative sites for the project
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:NEMA denied the proponent a licence due to no evidence of local community involvement; no land use plan for Dakatcha; and insufficient data on the viability of Jatropha cultivation in Kenya. The proponent was advised to explore an alternative site for the project.
Though the company had decided moved to a remote area in Dakatcha after NEMAs decision; it eventually withdrew its operations in Dakatcha and moved out in March 2013
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

National Land policy;

Forests Act, 2005;

Forest Policy;

Water Act, 2002;

Water Policy (National Policy on Water Resources Management);

The Agriculture Act, Cap 318;

The Local Government Act, Cap 265;

Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act of 1976 ; -Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) of 1999; -Environmental Policy;

Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, 2010;

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Action Aid Report
[click to view]

Gli Arraffa Terre, il coinvolgimento italiano nel business del land grab, Re:Common
[click to view]

Nature Kenya

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Reports

[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Nature Kenya:
[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

A Rocha Kenya:
[click to view]

Action Aid:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Serah Munguti
Last update21/03/2019
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