Since the discovery of oil five years ago in Northern Kenya, explorations have spread to more than 30 drilling and testing sites. This has brought foreign investment, and in turn, new work opportunities, corporate social investment in schools and health clinics, and options for personal enrichment through contracts and tenders. In an area long inhabited by pastoralists, this rapid development has created tensions, resistance, and conflict around both access to new opportunities and also the impacts on lives and livelihoods. The Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK and the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies, Kenya, as well as a team of researchers from Turkana County in Kenya have worked closely with big businesses, advocacy organisations, and communities to understand and balance out the interests at play. They have enabled the different parties to navigate a peaceful and sensitive process and this will be key to informing future plans for oil development.
Researchers are examining how and why local peace-building efforts succeed in minimising violence in contexts where there are large new investments, focusing on the remote rural areas of Kenya and Sierra Leone, and its impacts on the poor in marginal rural areas.