Read more...Over the past decade, Kenya Forest Service guards have repeatedly evicted people living in the Embobut Forest in the Cherangany Hills. On 25 February 2015, guards torched more than 30 houses belonging to the Sengwer indigenous people and destroyed school books, clothes and cooking utensils.

Today, a three-day-long meeting is planned to start, hosted by the World Bank and the Kenyan Government, aimed at discussing positive ways forward. The Sengwer, then, are supposed to sit down to talk with the government whose agencies burned their houses last week.

On 27 February 2015, the Sengwer wrote to the World Bank and the Government of Kenya asking them to stop the evictions or cancel the meeting. The Sengwer called for an urgent meeting with the meeting organisers to ensure that the harassment stops permanently before the talks begin.

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The World Bank is hosted a Colloquium on “Deepening Dialogue with Stakeholders in the Forest Sector in Kenya”, at the week of 6 March, 2015.

The Colloquium was organised following a series of violent evictions over many years of the indigenous Sengwer from their homes in the Embobut Forest in the Cherangany Hills.

Days before the Colloquium started, guards from the Kenya Forest Service torched 30 houses belonging to the Sengwer. Hardly a promising setting for the Colloquium.

On its website, the World Bank describes the Colloquium as “historic”. The Bank reports that,

The opening day was marked by frank and promising exchanges between nearly 300 leaders of the Sengwer, Ogiek, Yiaku, Aweer, Kaya, Masai, Samburu, Illchamus and Endorois communities and representatives of the national and county governments.

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By Dean Puckett - First published on redd-monitor

Read more...When Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, visited Kenya earlier this month, he reportedly urged the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to sort out Kenya’s historical land injustices once and for all, specifically mentioning the plight of the “Sengwer of Cherangani Hills.” But despite the World Bank having ‘a word’ with its ‘client’, the plight of the Sengwer of Embobut forest has worsened dramatically. An indigenous community is being evicted from their ancestral land in the name of conservation.

I am currently filming a documentary about the Sengwer. As I write this I am sitting in a small town on the edge of Embobut forest. On Sunday 23rd November, I was heading up into Embobut from a settlement called Tangul which sits on the edge of the contested forest area.

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NOTE BY THE NRAN: The No REDD in Africa Network reminds the world that the World Bank project in the Cherangany Hills included REDD and that the forced relocation of the Sengwer People is indicative of the grave human rights violations, including threats to the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples, that REDD projects can cause.

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Leaked document says World Bank violated its own safeguards in dealings with Sengwer people evicted from their lands
 
Read more...A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evictedfrom their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation.

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

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March 12, 2014

 

DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF THE LETTER HERE

We, the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) together with the Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme and the undersigned 66 organizations and over 300 individuals, strongly condemn the massive evictions and forced relocation of the Sengwer Indigenous People, one of the few remaining hunter-gatherers of the world, from their ancestral home in Kenya’s Cherangany Hills. The Kenyan government calls the Sengwer People ‘squatters and or Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),’ despite the fact that they and their ancestors have lived in the Cherangany Hills since time immemorial; and that Article (63d) of the Kenyan constitution (2010) grants them inalienable rights to their ancestral lands. 

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” carried out by a combined force of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, now evicting the Sengwer, destroying property and burning homes[i]. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction," he said.[ii] According to international human rights law such as the Convention on Genocide, forced relocation of ethnic or racial minorities is a very grave violation and can constitute genocide.

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January 31, 2014

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(Forest guards arrive in Kenya's Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions. © FPP)

Last year the Government of Kenya was getting “ready” for REDD in the Embobut Forest, now it is violently evicting the Sengwer People and forcing them “into extinction.” According to Survival International, “as many as a thousand homes have already been torched.”[i] 

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” caused by combined force of the Kenya Forest Service and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, which is now evicting the Sengwer not just from the Embobut Forest but from the entirety of the Cherangany Hills, destroying property and burning homes. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction," he said.[ii]

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Wrongly justified by conservation, thousands of indigenous people in Western Kenya are threatened with their homes being burnt and their communities evicted from their ancestral forestlands.
Thousands of indigenous Sengwer/ Cherangany people in Embobut Forest, Kenya, are threatened with eviction from their forest homes by January 2nd 2014.
 
For many years the Government of Kenya has been trying to move the indigenous Sengwer/ Cherangany of Embobut forest off their ancestral land by burning their homes. The Government has done this in the name of a (long since discredited) fortress conservation approach: seeking to remove local people from their lands, rather than support them in protecting their forests. Such an eviction is illegal under the Kenyan constitution, and under the international treaties signed by Kenya.

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Representatives of Forest Peoples Programme are in Rio for the Rio +20 meeting. FPP put out a press release highlighting Indigenous Peoples’ concerns about the negotiations.

The press release features comments from Indigenous People in Guyana, Kenya, Peru and Panama. They raise several concerns that are relevant to REDD. In Guyana, indigenous peoples have not been properly consulted and their land rights are weakly protected. In Kenya, the government plans to sell indigenous land for plantations and REDD projects. In Peru, mega projects threaten to open up forests, threatening indigenous peoples including those in voluntary isolation. This is happening despite the fact that most governments have signed up to human rights agreements, environmental treaties and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “We are here in Rio once again to demand that States fulfil their obligations and commitments,” says Onel Masardule of the Kuna people in Panama.

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In November 2011, African Wildlife Foundation and The Nature Conservancy gave an area of land covering 6,920 hectares to the Kenyan government to create the proposed Laikipia National Park. What African Wildlife Foundation doesn’t tell us in its press release is that people were violently evicted to make way for this conservation project.

A Channel 4 Documentary broadcast in June 2011 documents the violence behind the creation of this national park. AWF and TNC paid US$2 million each to buy the land from Kenya’s former president Daniel arap Moi. The Samburu indigenous people, who lived in the area, have been subjected to a series of brutal evictions.

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Last week, at a side event in Durban, the Green Belt Movement presented what they have learned so far about forest carbon finance. A paper released at the side event explains the problems with relying on carbon trading to finance forest projects, with important lessons for REDD.

The Green Belt Movement was founded by Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. GBM focussed on tree planting, environmental conservation and women’s rights. “You cannot protect the environment unless your empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them,” Maathai said.

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