• Indigenous peoples in Kenya

    Indigenous peoples in Kenya

    The indigenous peoples in Kenya include hunter-gatherers such as the Ogiek, Sengwer, Yaaku Waata and Sanya, while pastoralists include the Endorois, Turkana, Maasai, Samburu and others.
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Indigenous peoples are still struggling with getting their rights recognized in Kenya

IWGIA participated in the first part of the 65th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ in Gambia (21/10-10/11) and participated in a side-event on how to strengthen the voice of indigenous peoples and communities in Africa and in the ACHPR. We also supported a member of the Ogiek community in Kenya to participate and give a statement.

He raised the concern that the historic ruling by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2017 that recognizes the rights of the Ogiek peoples to the Mau forest is still not implemented. Read more about the historic ruling here >>

Furthermore, he brought attention to three other ongoing issues currently affecting the lives of indigenous peoples in Kenya:

  • That amidst the Ogiek ruling implementation, the Ogiek leaders and other environmental and human rights defenders are facing life threats. Between March and June 2019, OPDP Executive Director received death threats from politicians and beneficiaries of corrupt land deals in the Mau forest. Other human rights defenders in Mau have also received similar threats to an extent where on July 2019 two community scouts who are protecting and conserving the forest on behalf of the community were attacked and severely injured.
  • On August 2019, the government issued a 60 day notice to people (mainly settlers) living in Mau forest to voluntarily vacate the area or be evicted. The Ogiek, who are indigenous to Mau forest, fear that they might be affected in the looming evictions. So far 17 Ogiek households have been given notice to vacate their ancestral homes in Maasai Mau, and this is an indicator that Ogiek people living in other parts of the Mau Forest will be affected.
  • Other indigenous communities in Kenya are still pushing on with the quest for their ancestral rights.
    • On 7th of October this 2019, the Sengwer people of the Embobut forest staged a 450 km walk from Embobut to Nairobi to seek an audience with the Head of State urging the state to refrain from further evicting them from their ancestral forest.
    • The Endorois people who hold a 2010 decision by the African Commission are yet to fully realize their rights at the Lake Bogoria ecosystem. 

Ogiek Peoples Development Programme requests the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to urge the government of Kenya to do the following:

1. Speed up the implementation of the African Court ruling concerning the Ogiek

2. Refrains from evicting the Ogiek people and further violating their rights to occupy Mau as their ancestral lands.

3. Recognise, respect and fulfil indigenous peoples rights and their rights to occupy their ancestral lands.

4. Guarantee safety to indigenous communities and environmental and human rights defenders including community leaders i.e security should be enhanced in areas occupied by indigenous communities.

5. Set up programmes to address the immediate and urgent needs of indigenous Peoples including safety, education, nutrition, resource rights and benefit-sharing from proceeds of natural resources.

Read more about the situation for indigenous peoples in Kenya here >>

Tags: Human rights



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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