Mediating Energy Project Implementation Conflicts, a Learning Curve, the Case of Olkaria IV Geothermal, Kenya

Kong’ani, L. N.S., Wahome, R. G., & Thenya, T.

Energy developmental projects in Kenya have elicited conflicts with local communities over their impacts, including relocation and compensation. Most conflicts remain unsolved and grievances unattended to. Mediation use is becoming increasingly popular in dealing with such conflicts. However, this initiative remains inadequately assessed and published. The Olkaria IV geothermal project conflicts were mediated, creating an opportunity to appraise mediation for enhancing its application in Kenya. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from the project affected persons (PAPs) household heads, using questionnaires, focus group discussions (FGDs), key informant interviews (KIIs), and desk literature studies. Descriptive statistics were calculated from quantitative data, while NVIVO software was used to assess qualitative narrative information. Results suggested inadequate PAPs’ knowledge, attitude, contribution, and practice in the mediation, protraction, and trust issues. The delegates lacked a clear pathway for information dissemination among community members. Mediation lessens suspicion within the PAPs and increases the community’s exposure to different conflict resolution opportunities. An awareness campaign preceding mediation as an effective preparation tool and appropriate engagement of the aggrieved parties would improve the mediation process’ efficacy.