Fighting Kenya’s inequality with data

April 21, 2014 in Data for CSOs

European and Chinese private investments in Kenya may be exacerbating inequalities and diminishing development efforts in the country. As a result of this situation, a data-driven journalism project funded by the European Journalism Centre and the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme explores the issue.

Land Quest is a cross-border investigative journalism experiment conducted by six European, Kenyan, and American journalists. The data reveals Kenya as the battlefield between two competing interests: the flow of aid money from Europe to Kenya and multinational profits from Kenya to Europe, Kenya’s second largest trading partner after China.

They have conducted a macro-level, data-driven study to map European private investments and returns in Kenya since 2007 (year in which its Privatization Law became operational). For this first stage of the process, the team relies on the support of the two Kenya-based journalists who feed data on European private land investments (agriculture and development projects on natural resources and land protection).

After having compiled this data, the project consists of the production of in-depth reports and visualizations in the form of case studies. These help put a face to the data. For example, Lake Naivasha is home to workers rights violations and environment damage:

Employers supervise the environment and the employees. There are no fines for producers that contaminate the lake or endanger the health of the individuals who spend the entire day hunched over the flowers, breathing in fertiliser and pesticides. Trade unionism is punished with dismissal or contracts are not renewed.

(excerpt from report)


Interactive map which shows private sector and aid projects in Kenya.

About the data

As stated by Land Quest:

Data for this investigation has been provided by the Kenya Water Resources Management Authority in Turkana, Turkana National Environmental Management Authority, National Oil Corporation, Kenya Flower Council, World Bank, European Commission, Spanish Agencia Española para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo and the Spanish Nariokotome Mission. All data sets and relevant reports are available for further analysis and reporting on this site.

In Kenya, data requests were denied or ignored by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum; Ministry of Mines and Geology; Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources; Chamber of Mines; National Environmental Management Authority (Headquarters), county government officials; UNESCO; the Tea Board of Kenya; and Tullow Oil Company.

The geo-mapping tools used for this project were implemented by Ecolab using Google MapsGoogle EarthFusion TableCrowdmapUshahidi, and Mapbox.

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