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REDD+ Kasigau Corridor Project: Lacking results and with questionable affiliations!

There are a December 2016 report written by Jutta Kill and published in parts by the European Union. The name of the Report are: “The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya: A crash dive for Althelia Climate Fund”. This report tells a worrying story of how a project is a possible revenue source, instead of being there for climate change use or even local development. This sort of project and funding should be used for sort of projected land titles that saves the forests or create land that the owners can earn on instead of destroying the land. Something most of the REDD+ funds and projects is about, making sure the forest and the agricultural lands are kept and saved by the use of funding from donors and project builders.

One of the first hard-hitting quotes from the report are: “In addition, several reports document how land use restrictions imposed by the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project hit pastoralists and ethnic Taita and Duruma communities particularly hard while these groups receive very few if any of the benefits the REDD+ project provides to local communities” (Jutta Kill, P: 4, 2016).

So if there are donors who seems to be positive to projects and development projects that isn’t being there for the locals, than why are they offering the monies and using the time to facilitate the project in Kenya?

The Taita Hills REDD+ Project in Kenya has been marketed by Althelia, the project developer Wildlife Works Carbon, institutional funders like the EIB and media supporting market-based environmentalism as the Fund’s signature investment. Wildlife Works Carbon has been operating the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in south-eastern Kenya since 2005” (Jutta Kill, P: 6, 2016). So with this in mind the Althelia has offered certain amount of money on the table, as this was the signature investment, even as it have no benefit for the local communities. The Althelia had done this: “For four of the projects, the Fund’s annual reports indicate that the investment is made in the form of loans whereas for the REDD+ project in Kenya, the 2015 audited financial report mentions an investment through an ‘Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement’ (ERPA). Four of the five projects are also covered by a US$133.8m loan guarantee that USAID has extended to the Althelia Climate Fund in 2014. As of 31 December 2015, investors had disbursed €18,36m of the €101m committed” (Jutta Kill, P: 5, 2016). So the development project are funded through loans that are guaranteed by the USAID, but extended into the Althelia Climate Fund, so the two are co-operating in the direct funding of the REDD+ Kenya. So they are rubber-stamping and giving faith to the projects.

The ‘Stand for Trees’ Initiative, a brainchild of Wildlife Works and supported by USAID, has become an important source of revenue – some say, a lifeline – for many private sector REDD+ projects” (Jutta Kill, P: 17, 2016). So that the Wildlife Works that works inside this REDD+ project, that are using the funds from USAID and EIB, are complicating it more as the other revelations that should worry the ones who cares about the environment and accountability of ones running it: “The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project’s financial lifeline came from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, and BHP Billiton, the mining company with a record of severe environmental damage and forced displacement of communities that stretches back decades and continues to this day” (Jutta Kill, P: 18. 2016). So why would a mining company cares about an environmental project in Kenya, unless they we’re earning funds and getting profits on the project?

You can really understand the issues of the IFC and BHP Biliton involvement, when the local communities gets no benefit or contributing to the projects.

So when you have the Althelia Climate Fund, which is funded with loans from the World Bank private corporation branch IFC and the USAID loans, together in corporation of BHP Bilition, as the REDD+ Project in Kenya is in works with both Wildlife Works, as the ‘Save the Tree’ brainchild. As this was the Althelia signature project. That there are problematic forces in play when the EIB are supporting the REDD+ projects as well, either directly through loans like USAID or like IFC. Therefore, the many actors are surely paying and donating favorable loans so the owners of the fund and the ones living of it makes this the lifeline for the Wildlife Works, even as this one doesn’t have the impact on local communities.

Just as one key observation:

One of the most striking observations was how locally, people referred to Wildlife Works as “the company”. The reasons for this seemed twofold. For one part of “the community”, Wildlife Works is “the company” that instructs guards to confiscate cattle and goats; that prevents the poorest community members in the area from collecting even dry branches for firewood when “the company” itself runs a charcoal production business on the REDD+ project area; that puts up water tanks on residents’ land without even asking permission, let alone paying for the use of the land; that claims to dedicate initially 1/3 of carbon revenue sales to local community projects, but does so in a way that means benefits from these “community” projects are captured by local elites. For example, ranch shareholders who receive 1/3 of the revenue from the carbon credit sales might also sit on the “community development committees” that decide how the 50% of the profit from carbon credit sales” (Jutta Kill, P: 21, 2016).

Another insulting observation:

A carbon offset provider offering carbon credits from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project writes on its website that “committees determine what projects to undertake, prioritizing them by need and feasibility. ‘So many people have problems with water, so water projects—water tanks, water pipelines—always come first,’ said Pascal Kizaka, a local chief and committee board member” (…) “Exploring the location of one of the “water pipelines” advertised as an activity of the Wildlife Works Carbon REDD+ project revealed that far from what was suggested by the large placard outside the building (a One Vision Center), it seemed that the Wildlife Works contribution to the “water pipelines” project had been just the guttering along the side of the building’s roof and piping to connect the gutters with a water tank constructed by others. People also commented about bore holes put in by “the company” that had never provided any water” (Jutta Kill, P: 23, 2016).

So the Company, the Wildlife Works are supposed to provide water and pipelines. Still, there aren’t any who has been provided with the water, even as the REDD+ Committee Board Member Pascal Kizaka claims, as the locals and community says otherwise. This together with the lacking proof of the help with carbon credit sales and the control of land. This whole development project seems sketchy and a lifeline for Wildlife Works instead of being there for the local Kenyan Communities. Therefore, the use of IFC and Althelia Climate Fund, seems like way of misusing Carbon Tax and Carbon trading, instead of developing the Kasigau project for the Taita and Duruma communities. That deserves better and also deserves that when people and organizations comes in that they does not earn on their misfortune, but actually comes with projects serving them. If not this is just a way of fraudulent development industry, that no republic deserves. Peace.

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