Indigenous peoples in Kenya

In Kenya, the peoples who identify with the indigenous movement are mainly pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as well as a number of small farming communities. Pastoralists are estimated to comprise 25% of the national population, while the largest individual community of hunter gatherers numbers approximately 30,000.

Pastoralists include the Turkana, Rendille, Borana, Maasai, Samburu, Ilchamus, Somali, Gabra, Pokot, and Endorois. They mostly occupy the arid and semi-arid lands in northern Kenya and towards the border between Kenya and Tanzania in the south.

Hunter-gatherers include the Ogiek, Sengwer, Yaaku, Waata, El Molo, Boni (Bajuni), Malakote, Wagoshi and Sanya.

Both pastoralists and hunter-gatherers face land and resource tenure insecurity, poor service delivery, poor political representation, discrimination and exclusion. Their situation seems to get worse each year, with increasing competition for resources in their areas.

No specific legislation on indigenous peoples in Kenya

There is no specific legislation governing indigenous peoples in Kenya. However, the Indigenous Peoples’ Planning Framework, designed and implemented in 2006 by the Office of the President, in collaboration with the World Bank, provides a basis for free, prior and informed consultation and, with this, sustainable development could be achieved among indigenous peoples.

Kenya abstained from the vote when the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007.

2010 Constitution makes reference to indigenous peoples

The new constitution of 2010 specifically includes minorities and marginalized communities as a result of various historical processes, with specific reference to indigenous peoples.

Yearly update

Read the 2012 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Kenya to learn about major developments and events during 2011 (internal link)

Download the 2011 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Kenya to read more about major developments and events during 2010