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Resettlement of locals cloud dam construction

By Washington Onyango | July 26th 2020
National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority chairman Erick Okeyo (right)), CEO Sharon Obonyo and Kisumu County Commissioner Susan Waweru address the Press after a consultative forum on Koru-Soin dam in Koru was cancelled over Covid-19 fears. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Great expectations of compensation by hundreds of families in Nyando and Kericho counties is clouding the implementation of the proposed Sh25 billion Koru-Soin dam.

Although the government's target is to commence the project in the next two months, there is already anxiety among several families who fear they are likely to miss out on compensation for their land. 

Leaders and residents are also still scratching their heads on where the displaced families will be relocated to, even though the region has thrown its weight behind the lucrative project.

Search for a solution is not in the horizon after a public participation exercise that was to be held on Thursday by the National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority was cancelled over allegations that the participants flouted Covid-19 regulations.

Despite the developments, however, area leaders are optimistic that the project will go on as scheduled and claimed they have already addressed the key concerns that stood in the way of the project.

Led by Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo, the stakeholders claimed they were ready for the project and are hoping that everything will go on according to plan.

“We are now calling for faster construction and completion of the project,” said Koyoo.

But for the residents, they are still in the dark about resettlement plans that the government has for them.

Speaking at Dr Robert Ouko Primary School in Koru where the meeting was postponed, Peter Omondi, a resident, said the government should involve them and not their leaders in final decision-making since they are the ones affected most.

“As we speak with you, the government is yet to show us the map of the affected plots. We are living in fear as we don’t know the method that will be used to compensate us,” he said.

Sarah Akinyi, 62, said she will only move out of her home and agricultural land after a candid talk with the respective government bodies, rather than other people making decisions for them.

“I am the only one who knows the value of my land. Nobody can estimate how much I am supposed to be given. The discussions should be made by the affected people,” said Akinyi.

Samson Ogutu, 45, who has been living in Koru his whole life, has urged the area leaders to ensure a trustworthy process during the implementation and construction of the dam.

“Reports are that the dam will bear positive fruits for the community and county with water and floods prevention being the key things. We are not against the project. The problem is why is the government afraid to talk to us? Why are they playing hide-and-seek,” he posed.

National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority chair Erick Okeyo, however, urged the residents to be calm as they are going to implement actual resettlement and not cash compensation.

He said they will engage the National Land Commission during the compensation process for approval to acquire land elsewhere for resettlement.

“We received a memorandum from one of the area leaders, which proposed for actual resettlement. This is where if you have five acres of land we will buy five acres somewhere and after development valuation we will ensure you are compensated fully,” Okeyo explained.

The construction, which was initiated in the 1970s, will now kick off in the next few months and is expected to bring to an end the perennial flooding along River Nyando.

The dam, to be constructed on the upstream of River Nyando at the border of Kisumu and Nandi counties, will provide 72,000 cubic metres of water for domestic and commercial use.

The multi-purpose dam will also generate 2.5 Mega Watts of hydropower, which will boost the national grid.

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