24 March 2017

 ICCA   critical mass workshop   Mar 2017Nairobi, KENYA; 28 March 2017 - As the Global Support Initiative to Indigenous Peoples and Communtiy-Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA-GSI) gears to implement projects in Kenya, it organized a national workshop to bring indigenous community representatives together with international and national actors and collaboratively examine the current struggles of Kenya’s Indigenous Peoples (IPs) towards collective efforts to secure their customary land rights and the sustainable use of their lands.

Kenya is a multi-ethnic state, hosting over 70 different ethnic groups. Colonialism (late 1800s to mid-1900s) led to the dispossession of customary lands from the African natives and to its appropriation to European settlers. Upon its independence in 1963, customary lands started to be reclaimed. Land reforms began in 1993 and some of the dispossessed customary lands were retrieved and allocated to dominant social groups. However, the ancestral lands of marginalized communities were not returned as they were already alienated to the state as public forests and to the local authorities as trust land.

As such, the workshop brought a small focused group to examine the current situation of communities seeking to retain or regain their territorial governance including forest-dependent and forest-dwelling marginalized communities, coastal and pastoral communities.

Workshop Participation and Activities:
SGP co-organized the 1-day workshop with its ICCA-GSI partner, the ICCA Consortium as well as its national partners, the Forest Indigenous Peoples Network (FIPN), the Forest People’s Programme (FPP) and Natural Justice (NJ). Over 30 multi-level stakeholders participated in the interactive sessions including IP leaders from the communtiies of Lake Turkana, Ogiek of Mt. Elgon, Lamu and Malindi, the UNDP REDD+ team, donors, partner civil society organizations and community support groups with background in advocacy, legal and policy issues, media and research for public engagement, conservation, human rights and environmental rights. The Sengwer community representatives had a planned meeting with the EU Human Rights and thus, were represented by FIPN.

Workshop Discussion Points:
In order to provide a better basis on which to advance discussions and formulate recommendations, the workshop commenced with presentations from indigenous communities from Mt Elgon, Lamu, Malindi, and Lake Turkana on challenges they have faced and actions they have taken in reclaiming or defending their customary lands. Subsequently, the ICCA-GSI partners along with FIPN, FPP and NJ guided the discussions along the following themes: (i) importance of ICCAs and the role of IPs and local communities as environment caretakers; (ii.) assessment of current national laws and identification of policy and legal gaps that undermine the recognition of IPs and local communities; (iii.) exploration of available support mechanisms including the various options to influence policy changes.

The Nairobi ICCA workshop created an awareness and shared understanding among the attendees on the following advocacy areas: (i.) the importance of being recognized as an ICCA; (ii.) the strategies to defend ICCAs including internal organization, information dissemination, diplomatic action, legal action and demonstrations; (iii.) community monitoring of extractive industry activities and its alignment to environmental management plans required by law; and report back to the EIA on non-compliance to or non-development of such plans; and finally, (iv) the establishment of an alliance for action-oriented and advocacy towards the recognition of ICCAs.

All agreements and lessons learned from this workshop will be moved forward by a team led by ERMIS Africa towards strengthening the operations of the nascent emblematic ICCA initiative in Kenya.

For more information on ICCA-GSI, please click here.

To download the workshop report, please click here.