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Report on Indigenous Women and the Lapsset Corridor in Laikipia and Isiolo Counties

By: Samburu Women Trust, Dr. Sena Kanyinke

Indigenous Peoples have diverse, often negative experiences with mega-infrastructure projects. For Indigenous Peoples in Laikipia and Isiolo counties, the Lamu-Port-South Sudan-EthiopiaTransport (LAPSSET) Corridor program is one such mega project that may portend good or bad for them. The LAPSSET corridor program is a flagship infrastructure project under Kenya’s Vision 2030. As conceived, the LAPSSET program will consist of a road and standard gauge railway line and oil pipeline will run parallel for 1720 km (1, 720 miles) from Juba, South Sudan and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to a 32-berth seaport in Lamu in the Indian Ocean, Kenya. It will also include oil refineries in Lamu and Isiolo and resort cities and international airports in Isiolo, Turkana and Lamu.

The LAPSSET corridor program has three objectives; to enable Kenya enhance its position as a gateway and transport hub to the East African Sub-region and the broader Great Lakes Region; to reduce Kenya’s over-reliance on the Northern Corridor and to open up Northern Kenya that has been historically marginalized. It is estimated that the LAPSSET program will benefit over 15 million people directly and 100 million people indirectly.

Isiolo County will host significant components of the LAPSSET program. This include a 6500- acre resort city, international airport and oil refinery in Isiolo, a mega dam that will sit astride both Isiolo and Laikipia Counties and a road, rail and oil pipeline projects that will cover significant portions of Isiolo and northern Laikipia.

No specific data on the impact of the LAPSSET corridor program on Laikipia and Isiolo counties is available. However, there is general agreement that the LAPSSET program will negatively impact on Indigenous women in both Laikipia and Isiolo Counties because of various factors that include marginalization, illiteracy and poverty among others.