|dc.description.abstract||Public participation is at the centre of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) around the globe and is considered critical in environmental decision making. EIA in oil and gas projects are key indicators of whether a proposed project has positive or negative effects. Oil and gas projects have far-reaching environmental harm which may affect the local communities around the project area, the environment and property. Therefore, effective public participation is very important because it acts as a preventive measure in ensuring the safety of the environment at all stages of the project.
The EIA process in Kenya involves various process, public participation is the cornerstone and involves comments by lead agencies which play an advisory role and submission of comments and public hearing. In oil and gas projects, public participation involves an open, accountable and structured process involving mostly local communities and allied stakeholders through interactions, exchange of views and in certain cases some influence in government decision on granting licenses to a project for exploration. Public participation is not without challenges as there has been no defined structure of how the government has put in place capacity building initiatives on the citizens to enable them to engage effectively with this process and ensuring that the process is well informed, structured and meaningful to the target audience. This research study attempts to propose that a citizen centered approach to public participation should be adapted because of its focus on public knowledge rather than a mechanical process of ticking boxes for compliance. The citizen centered approach is how citizens exercise influence and control over the decisions that affect them. This research study proposes to critically analyse the role of public participation in an EIA process in Kenya with a specific focus on the upstream oil and gas sector. This research seeks to identify the current legislative and institutional framework of public participation in an EIA process in Kenya, seeks to understand the nature, scope and content of public participation and identify any gaps in the process and finally conduct a comparative analysis with other countries to establish best practice and lessons that Kenya can learn. This research study concludes that a citizen-centered approach is the most effective public participation approach to efficient EIAs in Kenya.||en_US