You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Kenya’ tag. week I had the pleasure of joining 45 lawyers from East Africa to discuss how to defend the rights of communities threatened by the push for land and resources throughout the region.

With generous support from the Ford Foundation, ELAW partnered with Greenwatch in Uganda to host a workshop for lawyers from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.  The aim was to help young lawyers gain the skills they need to defend the rights of communities threatened by extractive industries.

More experienced lawyers came to give presentations and share their expertise.  But they also came to forge ties with the next generation of lawyers and mentor lawyers just starting out.  They depended on experienced lawyers to help them as they got started, and now they are happy to help the next generation of lawyers.

We are also helping build relationships between young lawyers within each country and across borders, so they know they are not alone taking on powerful interests.

In addition to Greenwatch, ELAW partners at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG) in Kenya and the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) in Tanzania helped organize the workshop.

I left the workshop inspired and full of hope and I believe that we all went away better prepared to defend the rights of communities threatened by unsustainable development.

Jen Gleason
Staff Attorney

In Africa, corporations seeking oil, gas, gold, and timber threaten agricultural lands, waterways, and national parks.  ELAW is working with local advocates to level the playing field for threatened communities.  Together we are:

  • Strengthening hydraulic fracturing regulations in South Africa.
  • Reviewing and improving gold mining concession agreements in Ghana.
  • Protecting communities around Kenya’s Lake Turkana from oil development schemes.
  • Building strong NGOs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that will work to protect communities and the environment for years to come.
  • Creating strategic tools to dissect complicated natural resource concession contracts and advocate for stronger environmental, social, and fiscal provisions.

Harriet newNext month, we will welcome Harriet Bibangambah, a Ugandan environmental advocate working with ELAW partner organization Greenwatch, for a two-week ELAW Fellowship.  Harriet will work with the ELAW team and attend the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Stay tuned for more updates about ELAW’s work in Africa and Harriet’s Fellowship.

Michele Kuhnle
Donor Liaison

Benedette & Adolf

Benedette and Adolf are enjoying their first visit to the U.S.

Kenyan attorney Benedette Mutuku and Tanzanian attorney Adolf Runyoro arrived in Eugene on Monday. These ELAW Fellows will work closely with the ELAW team to strengthen their organizations and tap legal and scientific resources.

Recent discoveries of oil in Turkana and minerals on Kenya’s coast are keeping us busy,” says Benedette.  “We need equitable sharing of benefits and public participation in decisions about natural resources.

Benedette is Law and Policy Project Officer at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG), based in Nairobi.

Adolf is Legal Officer at the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT), based in Dar es Salaam.  LEAT works to protect the environment, land, and natural resources.  Adolf’s current projects include safeguarding Tanzanians from leaded paint and collaborating with colleagues to protect the land rights of Maasai communities threatened by foreign interests seeking land for trophy hunting.

Benedette and Adolf are part of East Africa’s new generation of grassroots defenders. ELAW has worked with ILEG and LEAT for more than 10 years.

Many thanks to the Ford Foundation for making these ELAW Fellowships possible!

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director &
Fellows Program Coordinator

In 1994, I had the pleasure of traveling to Africa for ELAW for the first time.  ELAW was looking for lawyers working to protect people’s right to live in a healthy environment.  We wanted to learn how we could support their efforts and help them connect with their colleagues around the world. During that trip, I met inspiring young lawyers in Kenya and Tanzania who, like me, had recently graduated from law school and were passionate about protecting communities and the environment.

Young advocates Harriet Bibangambah and Lourdel Twinomugisha from Greenwatch in Uganda

Young advocates Harriet Bibangambah and Lourdel Twinomugisha from Greenwatch in Uganda

Nearly 20 years later, I returned to work with those pioneering lawyers, now the experienced generation, to connect with the next generation of advocates representing the public interest through law. In the face of massive investments by extractive industries in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, these advocates are needed now more than ever.

Communities in Turkana County are among the most marginalized in Kenya. Hydropower projects in the Lake Turkana watershed have displaced communities and threatened the region’s already limited water supplies. Now, multinational corporations are beginning to pursue oil in this remote region, threatening to displace more communities and pollute water supplies. Communities in Kitui County, Kenya are facing eviction from their lands so companies can extract coal.  As demand for resources grows and the price for resources increase, the pressure to extract resources intensifies, and stories like these become more common.

That’s why ELAW is working with partners in these three East African countries to support lawyers working to help  communities understand their rights and defend and protect those rights.

Just over a week ago, ELAW and partners at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG) in Kenya, the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) in Tanzania, and Greenwatch in Uganda hosted a workshop to help lawyers in the region meet the challenge of protecting communities impacted by natural resource extraction. We hoped 20 lawyers would attend the meeting. We were thrilled when 50 lawyers asked to join us:  Through this work we are building a global corps of grassroots advocates who will protect communities and the environment for years to come.

ELAW thanks the Ford Foundation for making it possible for us to reconnect with partners in the region and reach out to new lawyers.

Jennifer Gleason
Staff Attorney

ELAW Partners from Kenya, Maurice Odhiambo Makoloo and Benson Ochieng, are in Copenhagen working to ensure that any agreement that is put forth at the COP15 meeting protects the interests of their country and all of Africa.  They were interviewed about the African walkout on Kenyan television.  (click on the screen to watch.)

Makoloo wrote about his experiences:

“Copenhagen generally is quite cold but the negotiations inside the Bella Centre are quite heated and hot.  Just a little update.  After the two texts had been produced the African Group argued that they would tactfully accept the two documents as being part of the working documents for the negotiations.  They soon thereafter equally submitted a document containing the African Group’s position on the issues.  Additionally they called a press conference at which they expressed their concerns at the level of lack of transparency in the process and called for a lot more good faith.  It was however, evident that given the previous leaked Danish document and now coupled with these developments, the African Group had formed the view that their partners from the developed countries were up to no good.  Their position resonated with the G77 Group and China.  It is fair to say that since then there has been a lot of mistrust among the delegates.”

President Obama is scheduled to speak in Copenhagen on Friday.  Everybody is hoping that the delegates can create a document worth all the time and effort that have gone into these talks.

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