“Working together allowed us to tap into each other’s expertise”

Kwale

30 November 2021

By Amy Fallon, with contributions from Samuel Ngei, TI-Kenya

Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya) and Kenya’s Law Society join forces to train women about their rights. 

In a community hall in Kwale County, on Kenya’s south coast, TI-Kenya has been joined by a group of local paralegals trained by the country’s bar association, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK). They’re at a meeting about increasing women’s participation in the mining licensing process.

While civil society groups have long championed the rights of communities affected by mining, a lack of coordination among groups has historically left communities feeling constantly overwhelmed and lacking important knowledge.

“When we were starting projects, we noticed that civil society organisations were having in-house fights, not speaking the same language, had their own interests and couldn’t reach a consensus on how to help communities and how mining can be beneficial to them,” says Samuel Ngei, Programme Officer on Extractives at TI-Kenya.

This had negative consequences. In one case, it meant there was a significant delay in setting up the Community Development Agreement (CDA) committee that would negotiate mining benefits for the community.

“Most organisations including women-led groups and those working to help empower women in the mining and extractives sector work in silos,” says Samuel.

“When it’s been done, working in coalitions, alliances or partnerships has proven to be the best strategy to tackle challenges facing mining communities, such as unfair compensation, disruption relating to land use, and delayed benefits, which affect women more than men.”

Recognising the strength of cooperation, and needing to reach more women to increase their participation in the licensing process, TI-Kenya joined forces with The Law Society of Kenya (LSK). The East African country’s premier bar association has a focus on women’s empowerment, legal education and training, which resonated with TI-Kenya. The pair collaborated on the Supporting Inclusive Resource Development (SIRD) project,  pooling their resources and expertise in Kwale, a county like many other across Kenya, where patriarchal attitudes impact women’s decision-making.

It was a new and exciting collaboration and way of working for TI-Kenya. The two organisations had complementary approaches that supported a common goal – to empower communities by improving their ability to take part in discussions about resource development impacting their rights. Within this, they shared a common focus on supporting women and girls affected by extractive industries.

 

EQUIPPING COMMUNITIES WITH KNOWLEDGE

TI-Kenya and LSK jointly facilitated a series of community forums on mining in Kinondo Location, a settlement in Kwale County in November 2020.  These forums aimed to ensure that women understood their rights by providing legal expertise and simplifying information on licensing processes and environmental and social impacts assessment (ESIA) procedures.

Ahead of the meetings, TI-Kenya adapted the ESIA procedures into a simple handbook and flyers, and translated them into Swahili, the main language in the remote areas of the country where mining occurs. During the meetings, as they distributed the translated materials, TI-Kenya and LSK facilitated discussions about the positive and negative impacts of mining projects and how they affect men and women disproportionately.

“The goal of simplifying this information into local languages was to motivate more women to participate in our mining forums,” says Samuel.

“Through locally-trained paralegals from the SIRD project, we had experts in the subject matter who could articulate local issues in the local dialect.” This included individuals practising in private law firms and others from local community-based organisations.

The community forums and meetings were combined with training held in villages in Kinondo Location to highlight mining’s environmental and social effects.

“Working together allowed us to tap into each other’s expertise, for instance for technical support, workshops and events, or in the review of draft policy and legal instruments,” says Samuel.

“It will be important to adopt this approach of collaboration in the future as we try to hold mining companies and the government accountable.”

“This is also about women’s involvement not only in mining but also in our entire societal development discourse,” says Samuel.

Photo: Flickr/Jan Friedrich

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