NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan activists on Tuesday protested the plans for a joint venture between the Kenyan and Chinese governments to mine coal and open a coal-fired power plant near the Indian Ocean coast, saying it will have devastating effect on the environment and health of the local population.

Kenya is set to build the 981.5-megawatt coal-fired plant to generate electricity in the Manda Bay area of Lamu County. The site is not far from the Lamu Old Town settlement, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Government officials have said the East African nation, a regional commercial and transport hub, needs to increase its capacity to generate electricity to keep up with demand.

Critics say the project goes against Kenya's commitments under the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Hussein Khalid, activist and executive director of community organization Haki Africa, said coal energy is being abandoned elsewhere in the world because of the harm it causes.

"Why are they not doing this project in China?" Khalid asked as the marchers took to the streets of the capital, Nairobi. "Why are they coming here to spoil our environment? So we are telling the government that Kenyans come first."

Another activist, Faisal Mohammed, told The Associated Press that "it is very unfortunate that our country is accepting to have Lamu as a dust bin."