The Japanese government has suspended its share of funds for the 60MW Sondu Miriu dam in Western Kenya.

Japan’s Foreign Minister, Makiko Tanaka, indicated that suspension of funding for the dam project was ‘a response to criticism from environmental campaigners and differences between Kenya and Japan over further funding’. Despite this, Kenya’s Energy Minister, Francis Masakhalia, has said the project will continue.

The project, which is still in the first phase of construction, has continually been criticised by environmental groups. The Japanese suspension is viewed as a victory by two Kenyan NGOs, Africa Water Network and Climate Network Africa, whose campaign allegedly prompted the Japanese government to organise six fact finding missions to assess the situation.

The project’s feasibility study completed in 1985 recommended a three-phase development. Kenya Electricity Generating Company, a government power generating company, obtained funding from Japan. The first funds for construction and engineering services were transferred in 1997 and the work began in March 1999. Before this setback, the first phase was expected to be complete by 2004.