Dakatcha Woodland biofuel project, Kenya


Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd (KJE), a subsidiary of Italian company Nuove Iniziative Industriali Srl, proposed a jatropha plantation biofuel project in the Dakatcha Woodlands. The area is a biodiversity hotspot and home to over 20,000 people from the Watha and Giriama tribes, the majority engaged in small-scale farming. The end use of the biodiesel produced from the jatropha was to be heat and power generation for companies in the European Union and transport in Kenya. Before the EIA was advertised, clearing of land began. The Watha community filed a court case (Case No. Civil suit No.124 of 2009) in the High Court of Malindi stopping clearing of the land. Other reports indicate that the local community reacted by chasing out the plant operators from the site. After community protests and international attention, the Kenyan National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) announced the project would not be allowed.

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Basic Data
NameDakatcha Woodland biofuel project, Kenya
ProvinceTana Delta
SiteMalindi District, Kilifi County
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsUnder the EUs Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which the project aimed to take advantage of, biofuels from Dakatcha Woodlands would have to save at least 35% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to fossil fuels to count towards the RED targets.

Project Area (in hectares)50000
Level of Investment (in USD)450000000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesNuove Iniziative Industriali Srl from Italy
Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd from Italy - belonging to Nuove Iniziative Industriali of the Orlandi family
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kenyan National Environment Management Authority , Ministry of Lands
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSite Support Group for the Dakatcha Woodlands, Nature Kenya, East African Wildlife Society, ActionAid, Birdlife International, RSPB
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesNature Kenya, in response to the EIA for the project, proposed the following:

1. Develop and adopt appropriate guidance on incremental and sustainable biofuel production before any commercial biofuel projects are approved,.

2. Limit the size to up to 1,000 acres in controversial, communally owned, environmentally valuable places, for all ‘emerging’ crops.

3. Implement the following as a precautionary approach:

- Prioritise Kenya’s unique flora and fauna and remaining forests, woodlands and wetlands in order to maintain future REDD and ecotouristic incomes and Kenya’s tourist industry.

- Require the completion of a relevant and in-depth Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for any commercial biofuel project.

- Take into account the cumulative impacts of all land use projects within a landscape or catchment.

- Reject biofuel projects that deny Kenyans rights to the land on which they live.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Environmental justice was not served because no remedial action was taken to stop disposing effluent into the Kwekwe river. A Manager at New Zimbabwe Steel Company recently admitted that they were dumping untreated industrial watse water into the river. Environmental Management Agency has done nothing, possibly due to the involvement of politicians at New Zimbabwe Steel Company
Sources and Materials

Emerging Crops Policy, Kenyan government

Draft National Biofuel Policy Kenya

EU’s Renewable Energy Directive


North Energy (2011). ‘Life Cycle Assessment of Refined Vegetable Oil and Biodiesel from Jatropha Grown in Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya’. Available at: Accessed 4 November 2012.
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Bikya Masr (2012). Health concerns, environment, shut down Zambia copper mine. Available at: Accessed 4 November 2012.
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Chansa-Ntambi, Mwila (2012). Butondo residents ask government to relocate them, in The Post Online. Available at: Accessed 5 November 2012.
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Wangwe, Misheck (2012). Mopani to meet ZEMA demands over pollution in The Post Online. Available at Accessed 5 November 2012.
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Chaponda, Abigail (2012). Emissions from MCM are still affecting residents, says mayor, in The Post Online. Available at Accessed 5 November 2012.
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Wangwe, Misheck (2012). ZEMA reopens Mufulira heap leach mine, in The Post Online. Available at Accessed 5 November 2012.
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Katasefa, ZumanI (2010). NGO threatens legal action against MCM, in The Post Online. Available at Accessed 5 November 2012.
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Wangwe, Misheck (2012). Glencores investment in MCM reaches $2bn, in The Post Online. Available at Accessed 5 November 2012.
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ContributorPatrick Burnett
Last update08/04/2014