NAIROBI, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Kenya should enact a robust legislative framework to ensure that land and other natural resources owned by indigenous communities are protected during exploration of oil and gas, campaigners said on Wednesday.
The campaigners who spoke at a forum in Nairobi said that protection of community land rights is key to ensure that drilling of hydro-carbons does not harm relationship between investors and their hosts.
"Sustainable exploitation of oil and natural gas in this country will only succeed if there is proper legislation to protect land which is considered a priceless heritage by our farming and pastoralist communities," said Odenda Lumumba, chief executive officer of Kenya Land Alliance.
Campaigners representing indigenous communities attended the Nairobi forum on championing Africa's economic growth through sustainable oil and gas mining.
Lumumba said that investors in the extractive industry should prioritize compensation of land owners and conservation of vital ecosystems like watersheds to avoid conflict with local communities.
"The Kenyan constitution is clear that communities are custodians of their ancestral land and therefore companies involved in oil exploration should facilitate resettlement," said Lumumba.
Kenya should promote transparency and benefit sharing in order to avert resource curse afflicting other African countries.
Ikal Angelei, executive director and founder of Friends of Lake Turkana, said that involvement of indigenous communities during exploration, drilling and transportation of crude oil is key to prevent conflicts.
"The central government and investors should recognize the sovereignty and interests of indigenous communities while carrying out oil and gas exploration," said Angelei.
Kenya is about to join the league of major African oil producers like Nigeria and Angola as drilling of an estimated 600 million barrels of the commodity goes into overdrive in the northwestern county of Turkana.