Land, biodiversity and extractive industries in East Africa

By Editorial | March 16th, 2016
In the extractive industries, laws play a pivotal role in keeping environmentally adverse developments in check without hindering extractive activities that are important for a country’s economy. Studies describe, for example, pollution of water sources from mercury and cyanide resulting in a myriad of pollution-related ailments to communities and their livestock, as well as forceful evictions of communities from their ancestral lands without adequate compensation – all of which must be regulated by law. It is along these lines that East African countries have come up with institutional, policy and legislative measures intended to encourage investment and prevent abuses. These measures differ in their efficacy across the region, and in most cases gaps exist that render social and environmental accountability illusive.
The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) commissioned a study in three East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) on the legal and institutional framework governing the social and environmental accountability in the extractive sector. This policy brief analyses three reports submitted by consultants from each of the three countries, capturing shared best practices and highlighting common areas requiring improvement.
In particular, the policy brief reviews the regulatory frameworks that govern management of the effects of mining operations, with specific focus on biological and social issues. The policy brief reveals gaps in the regulatory frameworks and suggests the areas in which legislation can be improved. While the overall aim of the studies conducted in each country was to gain a clear understanding of the legal, policy and institutional framework governing the sector in each particular country, this policy brief cannot claim to contain an exhaustive list of all the relevant laws and policies applicable in the three countries. Instead it provides a brief but informed account for the purposes of fostering discussions aimed at bolstering social and environmental accountability in the countries under review.

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