NAIROBI, SEPTEMBER 6, 2019 (CISA)- The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) on September 5, convened a national dialogue on coal mining in Kenya.
“The essence of us convening the forum was, we want to hear the different perspectives from the anti and pro coal miners so that we can make an informed decision, on whether we are going to be pro or anti, not just from the Church perspective but also from the Haki Madini consortium. For a long time, we have heard the opinion of the anti, so this time we also want to hear the opinion of the pro…from there we will make a decision from an informed point of view,” Gladys Mong’are, parliamentary liaison officer at CJPC told CISA September 5.
The September 5-6 forum brought together experts, faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, communities around mining areas, private sector practitioners, and development partners to examine the pros and cons of coal mining in Kenya.
According to Gladys, at the conclusion of the dialogue, CJPC will have an advocacy strategy depending on the position it will take as informed by the information it will gather from the dialogue with stakeholders.
“We want to shape the debate, because it is not going to end here. We will go ahead and engage the leaders from areas that we have heard there are coal deposits, mostly Kitui, then from that, we will go to the national leaders and the executive,” she said.
“We will start lobbying after we have made the decision on whether we are going to support the coal mining or not,” she says noting that the Church endeavors to ensure that the interests of the communities in and around mining areas are taken care of.
“For a long time, mining has been a preserve of the government and the investors, and the voice of the community has never been heard. Because the Church always speaks for the vulnerable, and has the option of the poor at heart, we decided it is very key for the Church to engage in this sector owing to the fact that areas where there are mineral deposits, are areas that are marginalized, like Turkana, Wajir and even Kitui,” she noted.
She points out that mining is a sector where the Church for a long time has not engaged in because it has been viewed as very technical, and the debates therein left for governments and other investors, leaving out the voice of the communities.
KCCB is a member of Haki Madini Kenya, a community centred coalition that brings together communities in and around mining areas, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations and individuals engaging in the mining industry with the aim of promoting responsible stewardship of mining resources.
The dialogue was officially opened by the Principal Secretary for Mining, Geologist John Omenge.