Nairobi, Oct 4 – The East Wild Life Society (EAWLS) today spoke out strongly against a government plan to build a dam along Kipsonoi River within the South-West Mau Forest in Bomet County, saying the project would damage an already threatened woodland, which is also a biodiversity hotspot.
In a statement backed by the umbrella Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), the Society said that the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) had on 26 September issued a licence authorising the construction of the so-called Bosto Dam.
“This is despite EAWLS and KFWG joint submission of comments to NEMA strongly objecting to the proposed location of the dam inside South-West Mau Forest Reserve and further requesting NEMA to kindly reject the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) study report due to its various inadequacies,” said Julius Kamau, EAWLS Executive Director, who read that statement to reporters at news conference at the Society’s headquarters.
The dam was proposed by the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, according to the statement.
EAWLS and KFWG pointed out some misleading assertions in the EIA report.
“For instance the report states that the three dam location alternatives are 18km, 12km and 3km from the edge of the forest respectively while the true position based on the coordinates and our field fact finding mission is that the 3 proposed dam sites are located inside the forest.”
“We advocated for an ‘out of the forest’ alternative to safeguard this forest reserve which is also a biodiversity hotspot,” said Kamau.
The Society did not receive any feedback from NEMA on its submissions objecting to the proposed dam inside the forest and the required public hearing on all proposed projects was never held, Kamau added.
“It’s our position therefore, that the proponent of this development did not explore all the possible options including an outside the forest option that would ensure that we bring about the so much needed development without compromising environmental integrity.”
“It is also our position that the EIA study report was inaccurate, erroneous, and subjective and cannot be relied upon by NEMA to make an objective decision on whether or not to issue an EIA licence,” he said.