- Verra halted payment of carbon credits last year following allegations of physical and sexual harassment linked to senior employees.
- Mwadime said the suspension will put the project on hold, affecting more than 130,000 livelihoods.
Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime has appealed to the world's carbon offset certifier Verra, to lift ban on the Kasigau REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) carbon project.
Verra halted payment of carbon credits last year following allegations of physical and sexual harassment linked to senior employees.
A report by the Kenya Human Rights Commission and a Dutch entity, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporation, pointed out cases of human rights violation.
Mwadime however said the suspension on issuance of credits will put the Wildlife Works’ led project on hold, affecting more than 130,000 livelihoods.
“Upon my inspection of the project, I am confident that Wildlife Works is doing everything to address the issues brought up in the report as well as making sure this never happens again,” the county boss said during a meeting at the Wildlife Works Carbon headquarters in Maungu on Wednesday.
He said the REDD+ Project has played a significant role in reducing greenhouse emissions, economic growth and raising living standards of the people in the region.
Further, Mwadime said the project at the wildlife migratory corridor between the Tsavo East and West National Parks, has helped in enhancing forest conservation and climate change mitigation through a community centred conservation strategy.
The governor noted that six locations in the project area have benefited from increased access to quality healthcare, clean water and improved education as a result of building of infrastructures in institutions financed through carbon revenue.
They are Marungu, Mwachabo, Kasigau, Sagalla, Mwatate and MacKinnon locations.
“Annually, thousands of vulnerable students get bursaries and scholarships. Wildlife Works rangers have also been critical in combating human-wildlife conflict and poaching across over 200,000 hectares of land,” he added.
The ban, he said, will contribute to the unemployment crisis since implementation of the project will have to be stopped.
More than 400 workers who are permanently employed in different sectors within the project are likely to be laid off.
“This will do more harm than good since many families will be struggling to put food on the table forcing them to return to illegal poaching and charcoal burning businesses,” Mwadime said.
Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project lead Nick Taylor said the organisation had fired two staffers, previously suspended following their extensive third-party investigation into sexual harassment and physical abuse allegations.
He further assured the organisation has taken measures to prevent violation of human rights, pointing out that anyone found culpable will face the law.
“I condemn perpetrators for leveraging on their powers to exploit vulnerable local job seekers and junior women workers,” he said.
Tylor said blocking carbon revenue will also lead to insufficient facilitation of game rangers who play a key role in wildlife surveillance to contain human wildlife conflict.