Kenya has recently established a devolved government system that provides for people’s participation in matters that affect them. In the energy sector, devolution offers an opportunity to redress past imbalances created by the centralized approach to planning. For example, the household sector has often been neglected, even though it accounts for most of the country’s energy demand. Furthermore, limited access to modern energy services means that most household energy needs are met through traditional biomass fuels, which are associated with serious indoor air pollution, environmental degradation and negative social impacts.
However, devolution is not guaranteed to lead to more locally appropriate energy planning. Indeed, evidence shows that community participation in most developing countries is limited, despite many publicly stated policy commitments.
For Kenya, this is a timely opportunity to develop a framework for ensuring community participation, so that plans improve energy access and develop the local energy system are appropriate, effective and sustainable. This project responds to a request for support from county governments in the Lake Victoria Basin region of Kenya.
The study has the following objectives:
- Develop an initial framework for successful participation in energy planning, based upon a review of existing experiences.
- Refine the framework for the Kenyan context, based on field research into the opportunities for and constraints to people’s participation in energy planning in the devolved county level governments of Kenya.
- Pilot-test the framework in one select county and disseminate the results to others.
The aim to create a flexible tool which other counties will be able to adopt and adapt as appropriate. From a research perspective, this project will contribute to the literature on participatory energy planning in low-income settings and inform the planners as well as organizations working on energy.