Trending news

PreviousNext
Home | News | Kenya: Govt Evicts Tribe to Save Forest

Kenya: Govt Evicts Tribe to Save Forest

By // News

Nairobi — Kenyan government security forces are forcefully evicting thousands of people, including the indigenous Sengwer tribe, from the Embobut forest in western Kenya by burning homes and possessions in an effort to promote forest conservation, safeguard urban water access and "remove squatters".

"The Kenya Forest Guard is burning homes and belongings in the Embobut forest area. They are threatening [people] with AK-47 guns. Gunfire has caused chaos as families run to hide in the mountain forest," Yator Kiptum, a member of the Sengwer community, told IPS.

The Sengwer people, a traditional hunter-gatherer society estimated to have a population of only 15,000, have inhabited the forest area for hundreds of years and regard the Embobut forest area as their ancestral home.

"It is through such actions that whole cultures, languages and histories die." -- Tom Lomax, Forest Peoples Programme

International human rights organisations are condemning the Kenyan government for undermining the tribe's constitutional entitlement to free, prior and informed consent to the evictions and for illegally breaking international agreements on conservation and human rights.

"Crucially, the constitution states that ancestral land and the land occupied by traditionally hunter-gatherer groups such as the Sengwer is 'community land' owned by that community. None of these legal provisions are being respected by the government of Kenya in the recent evictions of the Sengwer from Embobut forest," Tom Lomax, a legal expert with the Forest Peoples Programme, an international NGO that promotes forest peoples' rights, told IPS.

Despite the government declaring conservation as its reason for the community's eviction, its actions break official commitments to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which require the state to protect and preserve traditional communities and their adaptive practices that have helped maintain the forest area.

Lomax maintains that the conservation of biodiversity or ecosystems in compliance with CBD commitments cannot justify evictions of indigenous communities by armed troops and the burning of houses.

"These evictions are unlawful under Kenya's constitution and under its international legal commitments. The strong connection of the Sengwer to the Cherangany Hills forests [where the Embobut forest lies] means that their very physical and cultural survival as a people is at stake in these evictions," Lomax said.

"It is through such actions that whole cultures, languages and histories die. Sengwer ancestors are buried in Embobut forest, and their sacred places and livelihoods are there. They have nowhere else to go," he added.

However, despite protests from the Sengwer community about their forced removal, the principal secretary in the ministry of environment, water and natural resources, Richard Lesiyampe, said in a public statement on Jan. 7 that "people were moving out of the forest willingly."

"The reason of telling people to move out of the forest was meant to conserve one of the Kenya's water towers and no one is being forced out but are moving willingly," he said in the statement.

Over the last 20 years regional landslides and election violence have created a large number of Internally Displaced Persons who have inundated the Embobut forest in the Cherangani Hills.

The Sengwer community have found themselves conflated with the settlers and labelled as "squatters" by the government despite an injunction secured at the High Court in Eldoret forbidding evictions until the issue of community rights to their land is settled.

The Kenyan government has pledged 400,000 shillings (about 4,600 dollars) as compensation to each evicted family. However, the Sengwer community have refused to take money in exchange for their land and burnt possessions.

The World Bank (WB) is being investigated by its own inspection panel after the Sengwer community complained in January 2013 that the WB-funded Natural Resource Management Project was responsible for redrawing the borders of the Cherangani forest reserves.

This redrawing of the borders led to the Kenyan government evicting, without consultation, community members found on the inside of the forest reserve. The government has invoked the WB redrawn boundaries to legitimise forced evictions from 2007 to 2011 and in 2013.

"While the main culprit here is the Kenyan government, the World Bank must also be held accountable. It financed a project that redrew the boundaries of the forest reserve without consulting the Sengwer," Freddie Weyman, Africa campaigner at Survival International, told IPS.

"Some families therefore suddenly found themselves living inside the reserve and subject to eviction. This is now the seventh time authorities have torched houses in Embobut in the seven years since the project began. Can the World Bank guarantee that its loan did not facilitate these evictions?" Weyman asked.

International conservationists reject the Kenyan government's stance that a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle is incompatible with the goals of conservation and forest protection.

Instead, they say, environmental conservation is best achieved by supporting indigenous communities who have experience of preserving their habitat and resources.

Liz Alden Wily, research fellow at the Rights and Resources Institute, told IPS that this is a "battle between conservation and particularly the colonial inherited mode of fortress conservation where everybody has to be removed for the forest to become pristine, to modern approaches which utilise occupying communities as the conservators.

"Around Africa and the world, the latter strategy is beginning to get a grip," she said.

"These areas are the residue left of their ancient territories. [The] Ogiek, Aakuu, or Sengwer, are people who live essentially by forest hunting, honey gathering [some have 80 hives], and some small numbers of livestock and small farms. They have a different commitment to the forest. Consider, for example an Ogiek honey gatherer, dependent on his hives. Would he burn the forest or clear the forest and lose his livelihood?" Wily said.

Since the 1970s Kenyan authorities have made repeated efforts to forcibly evict the Sengwer from the forest for resettlement in other areas.

The "Fortress Conservation" approach that involves evicting indigenous communities rather than consulting and supporting them is increasingly discredited as counterproductive.

Instead, the 'New Conservation Paradigm' promotes an approach to conservation that supports ancestral communities to continue protecting their forests and biodiversity.

"Rather than returning the area to 'pristine' forest, it actually does just the opposite as profit-making plantations and agriculture replace the biodiversity of the indigenous forest. Far from protecting 'pristine' forest, this approach uses 'conservation' as its excuse to first evict the indigenous inhabitants before destroying the indigenous forest," Justin Kenrick from Forest Peoples Programme told IPS.

Do you have a story that you would like us to publish? Send it to story@africanseer.com

Tagged as:

No tags for this article

AfricanSeer Articles

Write Your Comment

Nigerian Movies

World Top Stories

TOP STORIES EXTRA

Nobody Can Touch My African Queen………..2Baba Reveals

Tuface Idibia has disclosed in an interview that getting married to Annie Macaulay was not easy and indescribable as he would have gotten injured if
Nobody Can Touch My African Queen………..2Baba Reveals

I am Lacking Behind in Nollywood Because of My Poor English……….Madam Saje

Nollywood actress, Fausat Balogun popularly known as Madam Saje, may have done well for herself in the Nigerian Yoruba movie industry, but she is still
I am Lacking Behind in Nollywood Because of My Poor English……….Madam Saje

PHOTOs!! Why do Kenyan LADIES love taking such photos nowadays?

Just out of curiosity why do nairobi women are so into nude pictures n posting them on social media how millions do they get from
PHOTOs!! Why do Kenyan LADIES love taking such photos nowadays?

PHOTO!! Introducing VERA SIDIKA’s husband and son, Aaaawww! Eh Eh Eh

DAILY POST: PHOTO!! Introducing VERA SIDIKA’s husband and son, Aaaawww! Eh Eh Eh loading..  
PHOTO!! Introducing VERA SIDIKA’s husband and son, Aaaawww! Eh Eh Eh

Watch Saudi Billionaire King - "GIVES DAUGHTER PURE GOLD TOILETS AS WEDDING GIFT."

Wealthy King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, has presented his daughter with a golden toilet as a wedding gift. According to reports, the toilet
Watch Saudi Billionaire King - "GIVES DAUGHTER PURE GOLD TOILETS AS WEDDING GIFT."

Zimbabwe University of Zimbabwe Bans Kissing and S3x

The Zimbabwe students’ union on Thursday made war not love over a new code of conduct banning students from kissing on campus at the country’s
Zimbabwe University of Zimbabwe Bans Kissing and S3x

Tonto Dikeh Remembers Late Mum In A Special Way

Nollywood actress turned singer, Tonto Dikeh, keeps making the news either for good or bad reasons. She is not new to controversies and she has
Tonto Dikeh Remembers Late Mum In A Special Way

Osaremen Ehi James is encouraging "9ice" to Forget Politics Now, Improve Your Spoken English First,

Each time I listen to Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, I tell myself this is the kind of leader we need in Nigeria, not
Osaremen Ehi James is encouraging "9ice"  to Forget Politics Now, Improve Your Spoken English First,

2Face Idibia Releases New Video To Diaspora Woman Featuring Fally Ipupa

2Face Idibia’s Diaspora Woman, off “The Ascension” album, featuring Congolese internationally acclaimed artiste, Fally Ipupa. The video directed by multi-award winning music video director, Moe Musa, was
2Face Idibia Releases New Video To Diaspora Woman Featuring Fally Ipupa

Watch Pictures Chika Ike Goes Unclad with Manager in Dubai, Rents Yacht for $24,000

These days, we see various Nigerian celebrities getting married and having successful union. While some crash due to lack of understanding, some marriages still last
Watch Pictures Chika Ike Goes Unclad with Manager in Dubai, Rents Yacht for $24,000

Here is why you should never have S3x with WH@R3 from Tanzania, they did this to DAVIDO

DAILY POST: Here is why you should never have S3x with WH@R3 from Tanzania, they did this to DAVIDO A prostitute from Tanzania took a selfie
Here is why you should never have S3x with WH@R3 from Tanzania, they did this to DAVIDO

After Father's Burial, Beverly Osu Carry’s Live Python For a Living

Gone are the days when Nollywood makes use of fake instruments and other things to make movie look real. Thumbs up to the rapid development
After Father's Burial, Beverly Osu Carry’s Live Python For a Living

Actress, Nse Ikpe Etim Ruins Husband Philosophy

Nollywood actress, Nse Ikpe Etim, has not just found love and joy in her profession, but she has also been described as a philosophy destroyer
Actress, Nse Ikpe Etim Ruins Husband Philosophy

Agya Koo Bank Manager

eatures: Alex Kofi Adu aka Agya Koo, Akwasi Boadi, Nana Ama Mac Brown, Akrobeto The quest for money and the desire by parents and their daugthers
Agya Koo Bank Manager

Asem Asa

Features: Mercy Asiedu, Michael Afranie, Samuel Ofori
Asem Asa

S3x Game

Features: Tina Osei Owusu, Samuel Ofori,Penzel Akwasi Appiah, O.J Black, George Berthou, Stella Fosu Dankwah
S3x Game

Burning Desire

A fortunate meeting with Goodluck puts Tracy on the supposed right track and with time moving faster than her mentor,a feeling of superiority starts creeping
Burning Desire

DRAMA as woman storms Kariobangi Church baying for the Pastor’s Blood. (VIDEO)

There was drama in a Kariobangi’s God’s Great Favour Church after a 40 yr old woman stormed the church breathing fire and threatening to kill
DRAMA as woman storms Kariobangi Church baying for the Pastor’s Blood. (VIDEO)

RISPER FAITH wants to get saved, MEN no more B()()TIES from her.

Bootylicious socialite, Risper Faith, who is known for her crazy party life and public display of flesh, now claims that she is tired of living
RISPER FAITH wants to get saved, MEN no more B()()TIES from her.
Go Up!