Memo to DNV on CDM Validation for Sondu-Miriu Large Hydro (Kenya)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Current Status: Validation Negative (as of Aug 2009)

To: Members of the validation team for the Sondu Miriu Hydro Power Project in Kenya, DNV

From: Bryan Ashe, Earthlife Africa eThekwini, South Africa
Liane Greeff, Environmental Monitoring Group, South Africa
Barbara Haya, University of California, Berkeley and International Rivers
Betty Obbo, African Rivers Network, Uganda

Re: Information relevant to the validation of the Sondu Miriu Hydro Project, Kenya

Dear members of the validation team,

We would like to alert you to some information about the Sondu Miriu Hydro Power Project in Kenya that is not included in the CDM Project Design Document but which could have bearing on your validation of the project.

Construction of the Sondu-Miriu Dam water tunnel.
Construction of the Sondu-Miriu Dam water tunnel.
Yusuke Katsurada
According to news reports, public protest over the social and environmental impacts of this project resulted in the shooting and possible attempted murder by the Kenyan police of a community leader protesting the project. The Sierra Club, a coalition of NGOs lead by Climate Network Africa, and the Japanese Foreign Ministry all wrote letters to the Kenyan government expressing concern over the well-being of the community leader.

In 2001, communities affected by this project organized to demand that the developers meet agreements made regarding mitigating the project’s environmental and social impacts. The diversion of 13 km of the river would take a main water source away from 1500 households. Project accounts claim that community members have suffered eye and respiratory problems from the dust caused from project construction, and that untreated water released back into the river had already led to the loss of local fish that were once abundant in the river.

The organized communities requested that the project developers live up to the agreements they had made with the community to provide jobs at negotiated salary rates, fair compensation for displacement for over 1000 households, health services, irrigation facilities and electricity.

The discussion of environmental impacts and stakeholder consultations in the PDD fails to address many of these concerns. It should be important in your validation to audit each of the issues raised by the stakeholders, including whether or not the agreements between the affected communities and the developers are being met.

Further, open stakeholder consultations are nearly impossible when a community leader’s life was threatened because he spoke openly about the project in the past. In such an extreme case of suppression, new stakeholder consultations should not be considered adequate to meet requirements for stakeholder consultations. We believe such violence should prevent the project from generating credits under the CDM.

Further, this project is obviously non-additional. The loan for the project was secured in 1997 and construction began in 1999. Construction was delayed because the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) withdrew its support of the project due to its environmental impacts. The project is now scheduled to be completed by November 2007. JBIC just signed an agreement on the Sangoro hydroelectric power plant, a newly planned 21.2 MW hydropower plant that would extend the Sondu Miriu hydropower plant by using its outfall once it is complete. The Bank would not have signed such an agreement for an expansion if it were not fairly certain that the original project would be completed.

The additionality arguments do not address the current stage of the project. The additionality question is not whether or not to build the project from the start. Construction started in 1999 clearly without the CDM. The question is whether or not project construction would continue without the CDM. There is no evidence that it would not have. The continuation of project construction, given that construction was already underway, was not addressed in the additionality section of the PDD.

Please feel free to contact any of us via the correspondence address listed below if you need more information about these concerns as you assess the project in the validation process.

Most sincerely,

Bryan Ashe
Earthlife Africa eThekwini
Dalbridge, South Africa

Liane Greeff
Environmental Monitoring Group
Cape Town, South Africa

Barbara Haya
University of California, Berkeley/International Rivers
Berkeley, CA USA

Betty Obbo
African Rivers Network
Kampala, Uganda