Philanthropies Readying Turkana for Take-off


Traditional dancers drawn from the local community entertain guests during the launch of the Lodwar Vocational Training Centre in Lodwar town, Turkana County.

Since the discovery of substantial oil deposits in Turkana County, the region, traditionally marked by poverty, high levels of illiteracy, and insecurity, has received more attention than ever before from business and development entities: multi—national companies, NGOs, Philanthropies and Government (at the national and county levels).

The Government of Kenya, the County government of Turkana and development organizations in particular have been keen on transforming this discovery into a better quality of life both in the county and country thereby avoiding the “curse of resource” as has been witnessed in several mineral-rich African countries.
Part of what these stakeholders have done to ensure that the locals contribute to and benefit from the economic boom expected in the next few years is equipping them with basic technical skills.
The most recent acquisition by this drive towards inclusivity in the anticipated rapid economic growth are two new training facilities recently opened at the Lodwar Vocational Training Centre, previously the Lodwar Youth Polytechnic.
The new public facilities, constructed and equipped by the Lundin Foundation and Africa Oil Corp, in collaboration with Tullow Oil and the County Government, and inaugurated by Turkana County Governor Joseph Nanok, will impart skills whose demand are projected to shoot up as soon as the Turkana oil hits the market.
Thanks to an initial funding that will help run the facilities in the first year, locals especially the youth will acquire skills in areas such as electrical, plumbing and hospitality much more easily than before when they had to travel to the city or far-away towns.

nanok_lundinTurkana County Governor Hon. Josephat Nanok (R) with Lundin Foundation and Oil Corp representatives inspecting the facility during the inauguration.

Lundin Foundation is also looking forward to partnering with like-minded stakeholders for additional skills training components and for long term sustainability.
There have been various projections of how long it will take before Turkana oil begins to drive Kenya’s or even Turkana’s economy with the most realistic players betting on 2020 as the golden year. If that is anything to go by then, according to Lundin Foundation’s vision of training sixty students every year to begin, this program will have prepared at least two hundred professionals for the job market.

Equipping the local population with relevant skills will surely translate into livelihood sustainability and reduce the potential of conflict especially between the locals and the outsiders who may have to move in to fill the void which would exist if such trainings were not initiated.

This program and the many similar others initiated and run by other philanthropies should also be seen in the wider framework of development stakeholders in Kenya strengthening their coorporation with county governments. For instance, UNDP has been working with county governments to establish Biashara (Business) Centres from where the local population can acquire entrepreneurial skills.

The Turkana County/UN Joint Program is even a more elaborate long term development program that brings together development partners many of whom are philanthropies.

So far, the most concrete collaborations between Philanthropies and Turkana Government have been facilitated by the SDG Philanthropy Platform and only last year five philanthropies were included in a UN mission to participate in a Country Steering Committee meeting to review progress on the development plans and identify new opportunities for multi-sectoral collaboration.