The University of Nairobi's, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT) was part of the attendees of the “Socio-Ecological Changes and Conflicting Visions at Frontiers of Development in East Africa” conference held on 18th November 2021. The Department was represented by Dr. Oliver Vivian Wasonga, a Senior lecturer.
The seminar was organized by the United States International University (USIU-Africa) through the Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IPPIA), the Japan Society for Promotion of Science, the Bonn International for Center for Conflict Studies (BICC) and the University of Warwick. It provided an opportunity to share research findings and also offered an opportunity to researchers, research organizations, state and non-state practitioners to showcase their works.
The focused of the seminar was on the megaproject development in the frontier areas of East Africa. In Kenya, these include the:
i) LAPSSET corridor that is expected to traverse six counties in the arid and semi-arid pastoral rangelands of the north;
ii) the 500km Standard Gauge railway from Mombasa through Nairobi that passes through around 500km of rural rangeland and national parks, currently terminating in Suswa; and
iii) oil extraction in Turkana, one of the most remote and marginalized corners of the country where the state penetration has been historically low.
The seminar addressed the following questions: What are the ecological and social implications of such projects? Do they herald a new era of inclusion and prosperity for rural communities, or displacement, exclusion and environmental scarcity? What are the various visions of different actors and how do these collide or converge? How do the visions of the powerful affect access to common-pool rangeland resources such as land, pasture, water, flora and fauna? How do the existing legal frameworks and institutions protect or expose rural communities? And how do conflicting visions impact upon conflict dynamics where resource-based and ethnopolitical conflicts are already frequent?