Renewable Energy and the Resettlement of Local Communities - A Case Study of the Olkaria Geothermal Power Plant and the Maasai Community

University essay from Lunds universitet/Kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi; Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: The government of Kenya has committed to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030 as part of the new national development goals, and as a result, the country calls for the construction of additional energy plants. However, the construction of these energy plants have in many cases affected local communities who have been forced to relocate to other areas. As an example of this, the recent expansion of Olkaria Geothermal Energy Plant led to the resettlement of the Maasai community, a pastoralist people that have lived in the area for generations. The company in charge of the expansion, KenGen, adopted a participatory approach, with local consultations including several community meetings, focus groups, and built new houses, schools, and health centers for the community. However, the Maasai still claim that they were unfairly treated during the negotiations, and took the company to court over the matter. This research focuses on understanding the processes at play, and why there is widespread dissatisfaction among the Maasai population although a participatory approach has been assured by the company in charge. This was investigated through an in-depth qualitative case study of the Olkaria Resettlement using published interviews and official company and government documents. Through the application of a theoretical framework consisting of different perspectives on power, this research comes to the conclusion that although a participatory approach was in fact implemented, historically enabled power relations hindered any real empowerment.

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