By Alloys Musyoka
The first-of-its-kind Jamvi la Madini forum has kicked off at Diani reef beach resort hotel in Kwale bringing stakeholders from different sectors and counties in the country.
Matters of land, artisanal mining, and issues of resettlement, human rights and conflict resolutions took centre stage during the first day of the forum.
International Alert, Kwale Mining Alliance, Transparency International Kenya, Haki Madini, Natural Justice and OXFAM among other stakeholders participating.
The forum is themed on promoting dialogue and action towards accountable and sustainable miming that respects human rights for better livelihood and economic empowerment of the Kwale communities.
Kwale County assembly speaker Seth Kamanza said that the majority of locals in the country have continued to sell their land at a throw-away price without doing a valuation.
‘Time has come for our people to stop selling land because you never know what lies beneath there. Some have sold only to realize later the land had minerals,” he said.
Speaking when he officially opened the Jamvi la Madini, Kamanza said that at one time he had to withdraw a land agreement he had written for his client because the quoted price was too low.
“Let us ensure we know the worthiness of our land before we agree to sell it. At one time as a lawyer, I had to take back a land agreement I had written for my client and him if he had negotiated well because the price was Sh150, 000 per acre. Most of the time we sell what we don’t know,” he said.
He urged citizens to be cautious since land value keeps on appreciating and it is the wealth that they have, adding that the Jamvi la Madini forum is important in ensuring locals share their experience with existing mining companies and come up with solutions.
He asked investors in the mining sector to ensure they follow the law while securing land for mining activities.
Msambweni deputy county commissioner Lotiatia Kipkech took issue with wrangles around land inheritance in the mining sector saying that it is one of the major issues.
“We also have the issue of people camping in other peoples’ land while waiting to be compensated by mining companies, which is another challenge,” he said.
Collaboration between state actors and non-state actor’s stakeholders in Kwale County will ensure mining activities are done sustainably and responsibly according to Transparency International Kenya manager Abraham Misoi.
International Alert country director Emmy Auma said that more needs to be done around human rights among the community impacted while asking the government to make sure that investors use conflict-sensitive and human rights approaches in their activities.
“We need to capacity build the community as new companies make their way in our areas for investment and also focus on dialogue and working together as well as a policy environment and amplifying the goods out of mining activities like rehabilitation of mined land by Base Titanium,” she said.
Base Titanium external affairs manager Doctor Melba Wasuna said the forum is critical since it has ensured that there is dialogue among the stakeholders and investors by bringing issues to the table for solutions.
“We hold quarterly dialogue sessions with Kwale Mining Alliance and they put us on task. They listen to communities and then they share with us for solutions,” she said during the Jamvi la Madini forum.
She said that already from such dialogue a community information centre is in operation to ensure communities get firsthand information about what they want from the company instead of waiting to be addressed when they have issues at the gate.
While addressing the forum, Kwale Mining Alliance coordinator Jermaine Kashi said that the forum has brought together different professionals including civil society groups and the media.