By Wesley Langat
The discovery of oil and gas in Kenya has been met with a lot of optimism of increased wealth and economic growth in the areas where the discoveries have been made. Baringo is one of the new frontiers that exploration is going on since 2013. Internews in Kenya’s Emerging oil, Emerging Stories project has been supporting journalists covering the oil and gas sector in Kenya from October 2013. The journalists mentored have covered stories at the Coast, Eastern Kenya, Baringo and Turkana. Internews offered them training, field and one on one mentoring to produce in depth stories from the sector. In February 2014 Internews radio trainer Wesley Langat and Kass FM’s Shadrack Mutai were in a Baringo to break the story on exploration and compensation in the area.
Exploration on Block 12A Kerio Valley in Baringo was met by protests and mistrust between Tullow oil and the locals. Shadrack Mutai with the help of Wesley Langat investigated the locals’ concerns; compensation, tenders and jobs which were not been given enough weight according to Moses Chebet a local resident.
After the features ran on Kass FM, the public was well informed of their rights and the process that is to be followed by the oil company before all out operations begin. The area MP Honorable Sammy Mwaita and the Baringo Governor Honorable Benjamin Cheboi were forced by the residents to call a community forum to iron out the contentious issues. Kass FM had continuous coverage keeping the story alive.
In March the coverage bore fruits when Tullow oil compensated the locals decently with some locals getting up to a million shillings. According to ElKana Marichor, a youth leader in the area, the radio programmes created awareness about their rights. “We appreciate you; the programmes informed us on our rights which we didn’t know before now we were paid by Tullow oil.”Elkana said. “We thank the media for saving us when other people are trampling on our rights your ready to point out to the world and educate us” Moses Chebet a village Elder added.
This is one example of how continuous coverage and support can have positive impact on audiences lives.