Addressing Environmental Injustice
Abuoye community used to be one of the food basket areas in Kabondo and by extension Homabay County. This is not a case anymore. The construction of Sondu Miriu power generation messed up everything. Despite electricity being generated, the community members are suffering the negative impacts of the dam.
Because of the dam, hippo grass has grown along the river bank blocking the locals from accessing water, the bridge which was to be used for crossing the river was not constructed despite agreement with the KenGen during preconstruction community engagement forum.
The water being too muddy and contaminated to the point that even animals die when the take it. With hippo grass growing and escalating the areas, other dangerous animals have come in and found home. Pythons are found here and have threatened the lives of children and domestic animals.
One of the community consultative meetings organized by Mwangaza group in Abuoye Community
People could not access health services from the other side of the river and so they have to resort to a facility which is far from them. Sometimes forcing expectant women to deliver along the way before reaching the health facility. Cases of malaria and other water related disease are rampant in the community.
Mwangaza community group started the campaign to address the issue. They engaged in holding consultative meetings to campaign for the same. The relevant stakeholders like area local leadership i.e village elders, assistant chief, chief, Kengen representatives and the affected community were engaged. They came on board to discuss on issues affecting the people e.g., water, hippo grass, blocked river banks, wild animals etc. We applied the tool of pillars of power as a tool to identify the influence of different stakeholders and also for community ownership. despite having promised the community living along Sondu Miriu river, specifically Abuoye & Nyandolo regions to provide clean, safe and adequate water according to environmental impact assessment (EIA) of 1995, KenGen has failed and the situation getting worse to the detriment of the community health and security.
Change of Tact
Mwangaza changed the style of approach and embarked on petition writing to KenGen, NEMA and political avenues. The petition led to a convergence of KenGen company representatives and the community to agree on the amicable ways of solving the problems posed. Due to time elapse and no fruitful achievement, Mwangaza has to date forwarded another petition to the national assembly on 12/10/2021 making the matter national.
Presentation of a petition by mwangaza group to KenGen
Eventually, we shall achieve our goal as mwangaza to obtain clean, safe and adequate water. We received a feedback from the national assembly that they are working on our petition and we hope it will come up in parliament soon. The campaign is owned by the community and because it involved so many stakeholders including county government of Homabay, we have started seeing some good responses.
State of River bank in Abuoye Community
This is one of the best steps towards a green and friendly environment in Abuoye community. Our hope remains high, our focus is a better community for all and we have a lot of hope that with several nonviolence campaigns, we will achieve all as we see efforts turn to be reality. This is a true testimony that indeed, nonviolence works! Said Veronica Akinyi– mwangaza group
By Mwangaza community Development Group