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Tullow accused of doing little for Turkana people

Tullow has previously said that it has spent more than $2.5 million (Sh250m) on corporate social responsibility in the impoverished northern county.
Tullow has previously said that it has spent more than $2.5 million (Sh250m) on corporate social responsibility in the impoverished northern county. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

British oil explorer Tullow Oil is on the spot from community-based groups in Turkana on claims the firm is under-investing in projects to improve lives of residents disrupted by the search.

Tullow has previously said that it has spent more than $2.5 million (Sh250m) on corporate social responsibility in the impoverished northern county, but a report by a UK-based investigative journalism group DeSmog says that many of the projects have low impact amid claims they are worth less than half the amount claimed by the firm.

WRONG APPROACH

Amfry Amoni, head of local advocacy organisation Sustainable Approaches for Community Empowerment (Sapcone), accused the company of using the wrong approach.

“A lot of the money has been lost,” says Mr Amoni. “Low community involvement and the wrong approach in reaching out to beneficiaries, and involvement of selfish local leaders has meant that Tullow corporate social responsibility has had very little impact on the lives of target communities.”

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Tullow, however, says the company has drilled more than 30 water boreholes benefiting more than 20,000 people and more than 50,000 herds of cattle, and provided bursaries to more than 6,000 students, besides building three hospitals in partnership with the county government.

Kenya’s Petroleum Act requires oil drilling companies to share revenues with the national government according to the contract agreement while 25 percent of the share goes to the county government. Five percent belongs to the local community on a yearly basis.

PRIORITY PROJECTS

Friends of Lake Turkana, a community-based organisation, says there should be consultations on the meaning of CSR and whether helping a marginalised community should be left in the hands of a private company.

“Are we pushing the responsibility of development on a private company? What is the role of government?” Friends of Lake Turkana director Ikal Angelei told Business Daily in an interview while describing Tullow’s CSR as a token.

Tullow Oil’s country manager Martin Mbogo says the company is focusing on water and sanitation, health, education, capacity building, environment, and alternative livelihoods.

“This approach ensures that the selected projects do indeed solve a community challenge and that they are sustainable,” he added.

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