Shompole is a beautiful pastoralist area around one and half hours’ drive south of Nairobi, Kenya. Shompole has a vast array of largely unspoiled natural resources including forests, grassy plains, the Ewaso Nyiro River, unique volcanic landscapes including alkaline salty pan which is an extension of Lake Natron and the Nguruman Escarpment. The local Maasai people of Shompole earn their livelihood predominantly from these resources (particularly through livestock) and subsistence agriculture on the upper Pakase.
The primary community based-institution governing land and natural resources is the Group Ranch through officials elected by the community members every five years. Shompole Group Ranch covers a total area of 62,700 hectares with approximately 2000 members – predominantly men and few widows who replace their dead spouses. Shompole neighbors other group ranches namely: Ol Donyo Nyoike, Ol Keri, and Olkiramatian – each of which is responsible for common property management in the four group ranch areas surrounding the Lake Magadi.
In the year 2017, The National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOC) which is a State Corporation involved in all aspects of the petroleum supply chains invited expression of interest from eligible candidates from Kenya and abroad for provision of onshore drilling operations in Block 14T is located within the Tertiary Rift Basin and runs from the shores of Lake Bogoria down to Lake Magadi Basin on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. This was after having successfully acquiring up to 300 line km of 2D seismic data in earlier explorations.
The community is concerned that minimal consultations were done by the National Oil Corporation who is the concession holders and minimal benefits have been accrued from their presence. During the 2D explorations, the exploration team used hidden maps with parallel transects which were located out of the conservation area and in the process, about 24,000 holes were dug.
In the recent exploration, NOC lied to the community members that they were looking for water for fear of rousing hostility from members of the community who feared that their land will be taken away from them once oil was discovered. In instances when water was struck, they were reluctant to share the water with the community although they yielded to the community demands when they become persistent.
“Afadhali maskini ambaye ana njaa, kuliko maskini ambaye hana ardhi”
- Joshua Parsaloi (resident)
The community were not happy with the manner the Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted. They claim that, meetings were held in the bars, to convince the people into allowing them back. The group ranch committee accepted a pay of Kshs.80,000 per month from NOC being lease for the land NOC exploration teams set camp for three months. Most of the agreements were verbal and not well communicated to the community members. Most of the proceeds from land lease paid by NOC were utilized by the community to pay for fees for needy children.
The community’s main concern is the division that NOC has been able to develop between the community leadership and the community. All the complaints and concerns that the community has raised have not been acted upon and in most instances, the community leadership (MCA, MP and group ranch committee members) of ten taking sides in favor of NOC.