The Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya’s coast region is home to over 20,000 people. It is an area of important biodiversity and a number of endangered plant and animal species are found in the woodlands.
It is in one of the poorest parts of Kenya and communities survive by growing cassava and maize on small patches of land outside the forest area to feed their families, and pineapples to sell in the local market.
But the communities’ way of life is under threat as Nuove Iniziative Industriali, an Italian biofuels company, is trying to grab 50,000 hectares of land for a jatropha biofuels plantation that will produce biodiesel for export to Europe.
The community claim that the County Council of Malindi, who look after the land on their behalf, did not consult them on plans for the plantation and they have not been offered compensation or alternative land.
They are unconvinced by the company’s plans to build a new school, a clinic and bore holes for water – a resource that is particularly scarce in the area – claiming that as they are not written down, they cannot take them seriously.
Joshua Kahindi Pekeshe, a village elder from Dakatcha, is one of the locals fighting the plans.
We don’t want this jatropha. What good is it to us if we can’t farm to feed our families?
“I’m told that most of this biofuel will be sent to Europe. Why should we pay this high price to meet Europe’s energy needs?”
A report commissioned by ActionAid with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that jatropha, like most biofuels, is not a green alternative to climate change.
Biofuels produced from the Dakatcha site would increase overall emissions to up to 6 times those of conventional fossil fuels.
Having been told about plans for this biofuels plantation back in 2009 by concerned local communities, we are working with local organisations to stop this plantation.
We are also calling on EU leaders to scrap biofuels targets within their renewable energy policies.
We believe EU actions to fight climate change and secure energy supplies cannot take priority over the rights of poor people in developing countries.