and still some more, not much different from the Mapungubwe situation:Lake Natron Update - 16th July 2007
This is a regular update to like minded people to raise awareness on the proposed construction of a soda ash plant by Tata Chemicals Ltd at Lake Natron in Tanzania. The lake is the only significant breeding site for lesser flamingos in Eastern Africa. This plant could seriously affect the breeding of this near threatened species thus wiping out 75% of the population of the global population. The livelihoods of the local communities that depend on the surrounding rangelands are also threatened.
I have taken the liberty to put you on this mailing list because I thought that we should work together to ensure that the integrity of this vital lake and the livelihoods of the communities that depend on the area are safeguarded. I hope this is ok.
Please find yesterday’s (16th July 2007) update:
--- Today’s update is a bit lengthy as it includes information from the Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania(TZ), workshop but it has crucial information so please read on….
1. The Kenyan team of three (Hadley Becha, Peter Odhiambo and Ole Petenya Yusuf-Shani) is back from the Dar workshop. Their trip was kindly funded by East African Wildlife Society and IUCN – Regional Office for Eastern African. Here is the brief:
a) About 40 participants attended the workshop representing various institutions including IUCN, WWF, WWT, WCST, Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), Ramsar Secretariat and Tanzania Government officials. Tata Chemicals Ltd was represented by two high level officials. It was not made clear how the participants were selected.
b) In the morning session, Norconsult gave a presentation of the proposed project and presented summary findings of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) document. In the afternoon, the participants were given a chance to react to the presentation
c) It emerged that the document presented was not an ESIA since it was lacking in critical details such as project alternatives and mitigation measures for the identified impacts. The proponent accepted that Flamingos were going to be affected significantly but they did not provide any mitigation measures except “avoiding the nesting areas”. Other details such as hydrological data (which is critical in a water scarce area like Natron) were missing. In addition, issues such as land tenure system in the project site and the mode of transporting the end product were not articulated. The transport mode would depend on decisions to be made by the government of TZ hence providing a blank cheque for this activity.
d) It became clear that the process of the ESIA was not consultative since it ignored inputs from outside the republic of TZ. The fact that international conventions were not considered was noted. Moreover, that the existing protocols for EIA and Strategic Environmental Assessment under the East African Community were ignored was a major omission – Norconsult, the EIA consultants for Tata Chemicals were not even aware of these protocols!
e) The fact that there is no management plan (MP) for the Ramsar site was highlighted. The TZ government officials could not confirm the stage of MP preparation process. It was clear that this project was being proposed in the absence of a guiding framework; a management plan. This contravenes the Ramsar Convention of which TZ is a signatory. Also, the Government of Tanzania did not inform the Ramsar Secretariat about the soda ash plant proposal.
f) At the end of the workshop, the participants insisted that a more comprehensive consultative process must be undertaken. This time round, it should not be limited to inviting the concerned and interested institutions to a workshop but an open debate and dialogue over issues must be facilitated. Information must be fully disclosed and all the necessary data provided. However, a management plan for the Ramsar site must first be developed. Norconsult indicated willingness to consult more stakeholders but also expressed urgency in terms of meeting certain deadlines imposed by the proponent – the document is still open for comments until 27th July. However, it is not clear what they will do with it after 27th.
2. The implications of the workshop outcome to our campaign is: ALUTA CONTINUA. There is apparent political pressure within TZ to ensure that the project commences as soon as possible. This is why we can’t relent. Our next steps will be:
a) To continue engaging the Kenyan government authorities to prompt them to engage their TZ counterparts
b) Continue with our ongoing public awareness on this issue, especially in TZ. We are in touch with Lawyers Environmental Action Team and Journalists for Environment in doing this.
c) Engage the Environment Committee of the EAC secretariat and provide them with the necessary information
d) Initiate an online petition to be presented to the Government of TZ and Tata Chemicals Ltd. The thrust of this will be to demand that the consultative process be comprehensive and that the international conventions and protocols be respected.
e) Bring on board more institutions in the region, including those from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, Sudan, Yemen, and Sudan should also be consulted. We will maintain regular communication with our Friends in Europe, Americas and Asia.
3. Last week, the Kenyan press highlighted the threat to Lake Natron. On 12th July, there was an advert on Page 19 of Daily Nation and a feature article on page 14 of The People. The same evening the issue was highlighted on NTV. The previous week Business Daily carried an article in the ‘company and business page 8. All these articles are attached.
4. A number of papers in Europe ran stories on the threat to Lake Natron.
These include The Independent (http://environment.independent.co.uk/wi ... 758826.ece
), The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.j ... /eaflam112
.xml); The Guardian (http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conse ... 51,00.html
); The BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6292434.stm
and The Scotsman (http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1083162007
). I might be able to share some of these stories later.
5. We have received inquiries from The Telegraph of India, Greenpeace (India) and Prof Agoramoorthy in Taiwan on Lake Natron. Greenpeace is willing to join hands with us as they have issues with other Tata projects in India. The Telegraph would like to ran a story from the Tata perspective. Prof Agoramoorthy is willing to highlight the issue in his country and region.
6. We need Ksh 125,000 (US $ 1,925) to pay for a half page advert in one of the regional newspapers in order to maintain this tempo. We request any institutions or individuals willing to contribute towards this to get in touch with me or Peter Odhiambo at (email@example.com
7. Starting today, we shall use this new email address dedicated to this campaign; it is firstname.lastname@example.org
. If you see updates from this address please do not delete. This will streamline our communication.
That’s quite a chunk for now, more tomorrow.
Thanks all for your immense support.
Ken Mwathe (Secretariat), For: Lake Natron Consultative Group
You are invited to join Lake Natron Consultative Group. The following Institutions are spearheading efforts to ensure that the Integrity of Lake Natron and the Cross Border Ecosystem is Maintained:
1. East African Wildlife Society
2. African Conservation Centre (ACC)
3. Nature Kenya
4. Youth For Conservation,
5. South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO),
6. Kenya Wetlands Forum (KWF)
7. Centre for Minority Rights for Development (CEMIRIDE),
8. Kenya Community based Tourism Network (KECOBAT),
9. Environmental Liaison Centre International (ELCI),
10. Centre for Education and research in Environmental Law(CREEL)
11. Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK)
12. Ethiopia Wildlife Natural History Society (EWNHS)