Governing black gold: lessons from oil finds in Turkana, Kenya
Originally published by the Institute of Development Studies. The discovery of oil in Turkana, Kenya is associated with new conflict risks as well as changes in peacebuilding institutions and relations.
Oil exploration has multiplied across eastern Africa over the past decade. Many of the areas where operations have expanded are agrarian and pastoral, where a wider transformation is happening including small town growth and the development of new transport infrastructure.
Overlaying these processes are new forms of governance that emphasise the sharing of powers – and public finance – between national and sub-national levels of governance, and increasingly vocal claims for participation and autonomy. While national governments tout the potential of oil discoveries to spur economic growth and prosperity, its benefits are less clear for people living in marginal rural areas.
This briefing paper examines lessons from Turkana, Kenya, where oil finds are associated with new conflict risks as well as changes in peacebuilding institutions and relations. Experiences in Turkana raise important lessons around the need to engage with and reinforce emergent local structures that insist on benefits, rights and accountability.