Renewable energy projects and community livelihoods in Marsabit County: a case of Lake Turkana wind power project in Marsabit County, Kenya
Titus, Leokoe Lolmuget
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Kenya’s quest to accelerate transition to renewable energy has led to development of the largest Wind Farm in Africa; Lake Turkana Wind Power project. Renewable energy projects (REPs) are known to contribute to sustainable development goals. REPs contribute to clean, affordable energy and slow climate change. REPs are also associated with economic, social, environmental and institutional influence to community livelihoods. Despite the full operation, its potential social, economic, environmental and institutional influences on community livelihoods were not clearly understood. Therefore, this study was inspired by the need to understand the influence of REPs on community livelihoods in Marsabit county; the case of Lake Turkana Wind Power project, Kenya. The research had four objectives; to establish how economic, social, environmental, institution and their combination influence community livelihoods. The study deployed a Cross-Sectional descriptive survey and correlation research design targeting 3,159 persons in 568 households. A simple random sampling technique generated a sample of 235 households within 30km radius of the Project site. Each village was assigned households proportionate to its population size. Semi-structured questionnaires were used. Data was analyzed and described using descriptive and inferential statistics. Linear regression analysis was applied to test the null hypothesis. A Likert scales of 1-5 was used to test the strength of responses. A pre-test conducted established a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.826 indicating a high level of internal consistency. The study had four null hypothesis specifically there is no significant relationship between economic dimension, social dimension environmental dimension, institutional and dimension and community livelihood in Marsabit County, Kenya. The findings confirm that influence of social (p =0.001<0.05) and environmental dimension (p=0.003<0.05) significantly influence community livelihoods. Economic (p=0.489>0.05) and institution dimensions (p=0.508>0.05) were not significant in influencing community livelihoods. The findings demonstrate that social dimension had not adverse effects on local cultures however had negligible influence on job creation, income increase, business growth, failed to deliver social responsibility projects and clean energy. The social dimension was attributed to displacement without commensurate compensation, increased insecurity and conflict related to resource competition and limited unfair sharing and access to project related resources. Besides, the emergence of new settlements amid population influx, increased disease incidences and deteriorating social norms as exemplified by increased alcoholism, HIV AIDs and prostitution were established. LTWP had negligible environmental effects; negligible turbine noise, shadow flicker effects except for adverse increased incidences of road injuries and fatalities, dust and physical land damages. On the institutional aspects, the community does not support future expansion of the LTWP attributable to existing unresolved land ownership issues, lack of community involvement in land acquisition and the growing significance of land. The study concludes that the renewable energy dimension overall has a significance influence on community livelihoods however the influence of economic and institutional dimension was minimal. The social and environmental dimensions significantly contribute about 31% and 43.2% influence on community livelihoods respectively. The study recommends for a robust, need driven investment in socio-economic initiatives through robust policy and strategies for ensuring transparent and fair sharing of opportunities, managing community expectations, tackling insecurity, and mitigating environmental and social concerns. Further research on influence of wind turbines on flying birds and on individuals working and living on a daily basis in the turbine installations is proposed.
Africa Nazarene University