UPDATE 08. August 2020: Multi-agency team to re-mark Mau borders

UPDATE 07. August 2020: Threats, politics and evictions: Who will save East Africa’s most important forest?

UPDATE 24. July 2020: KFS GOES AGAINST CS ENVIRONMENT DIRECTIVES & Slow Food supports evicted Ogiek Community with a fundraising campaign. 

UPDATE 22. July 2020: Draw clear borderline for Mau, says the Ogiek First Nation

UPDATE 19. July 2020: Kenyan Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko fails to attend highly publicized meeting with the Ogiek - the Indigenous people and owners of the Mau forest. The post-colonial governance of Kenya drags their feet and tries to fool the Ogiek since 30 years, thereby violating international law.

PROLOGUE: Under the cover of medical-martial law imposed also in Kenya on all people due to the COVID-19 scare, the Kenya government commits again atrocities against the Indigenous Ogiek people inside their Mau Forest. Despite highest rulings from the African Union court and the Kenyan High Court, the secret forces behind these evictions of Indigenous People, who want to clear the way for water extortion schemes together with the international freshwater-Mafia (led by Vivendi and Nestle), have never let loose. The defence of the Ogiek against the land-grabbers has been going on since colonial times, but had to be intensified since 1992. The scam is obvious: First they push landless poor people from other communities into these Indigenous forest lands and then they evict them together with the rightful inhabitants and owners of these forests. The fake title deed scams were already uncovered by the Ndungu Land Commission as well as by the Mau Task Force. And once again rogue gangs of heavily armed and poorly trained Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers are ordered to carry out these illegal acts. Like in Brazil this leads now to a situation where international donors must be urged to withdraw funding from the Kenya government due to these persistent violations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. What is seriously missing in Kenya since 50 years for all the Indigenous Peoples of the colonial construct, which is called Kenya, is an Independent Truth and Reconstitution Commission that would deal with and rectify once and for all times the colonial injustices that are carried on by the post-colonial governance. Fact is that the British stole large parts of the Mau Forest from the aboriginal Ogiek people and turned them into governmental forest areas, which are until now illegally occupied and poorly managed by the KFS. Those parts of the Mau forest as well as the others into which the Ogiek were pushed shall obviously now be totally depopulated in a move that follows the hidden New World Order agenda of the UN with SDG, the so-called Great Reset and the interests of Globalists corporations and banksters (incl. WorldBank, ICLEI, WEF), who want these lands for collateral and resources. Until these injustices are addressed and settled no reconciliation can ever occur.

Mau evictions: KFS identifies forest boundary as Ogiek cry foul

1By FRANCIS MUREITHI - 17. July 2020

Summary

  • At least more than 300 houses have been torched by the KFS officers after the owners removed their belongings.
  • There was tension in Mariashoni trading centre as it emerged that structures in the area had been  earmarked for demolition.

Ogiek Council of Elders chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett (second left) and Molo Deputy County Commissioner David Wanyonyi (second right) and other members of the community at Mariashoni, in Eastern Mau Forest in Molo on July 16, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

After a public outcry over ruthless evictions of illegal settlers in Eastern Mau Complex in Mariashoni in Molo, Nakuru County, the government has launched an exercise to identify the forest cutlines.

But even, as the government moves to identify the forest boundaries, members of Ogiek community, who are targeted, claim the exercise is in contempt of court.  

Ogiek Council of Elders Chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett stated the exercise was illegal.

“The exercise is supposed to be conducted by the Lands Commission who will put the beacons and map those who are in the forest land for resettlement,” said Mr Towett.

HARASSMENT

He added: “What is happening now in Mariashoni is harassment of the Ogiek through an illegal exercise. Molo Deputy County Commissioner cannot use handpicked elders without consulting the Ogiek and take them to the forest to show them fake cut-lines,” said Mr Towett.

Senior counsel Gibson Kamau Kuria representing the Ogiek community, on July 14 wrote to Regional Commissioner George Natembeya to stop further evictions.

“If the evictions continue, we shall go to court to have those assisting in the illegal process committed to jail for contempt of court,” said Mr Kamau.

Kenya Forest Service rangers and police officers combing Eastern Mau Forest in Mariashoni in Molo, Nakuru County on July 16, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

On March 14, 2014 Environment and Lands Court Justice Pauline Nyamweya directed the National Land Commission to within one year of her judgment open a register of members of the Ogiek community in consultation with their cuncil of elders and identify land for their settlement.  

On Thursday, Molo Deputy County Commissioner David Wanyonyi, accompanied by KFS officials and heavily armed contingent of police officers toured the water tower and identified the boundaries in the presence of some elders.

They were accompanied by two government surveyors who did not have the area map, nor did they put beacons on the purported cut-lines. This raised suspicion among the elders and affected community.

When contacted on the issue of mapping out the cutlines, Mr Wanyonyi declined to comment.

FOREST LAND

“Anything about interview is not possible now. Those are the orders we have as at now. Let us finish the whole exercise because if we engage in too much talk, this work will not be finished…in case of fielding the questions wait for the regional commissioner who will visit this place,” Mr Wanyonyi told Nation.

However, a source in the enforcement team told the Nation that on Wednesday, they held a meeting with Mr Natembeya, KFS officials and picked 10 elders from the area to validate the exercise.

“The evictees have no problem moving out of the forest land, what they want is to be shown where the cutline is and that is what we are doing,” said the source.

There was tension in Mariashoni trading centre as it emerged that structures in the area had been earmarked for demolition.

A team of Kenya Forest Service rangers, administrators and Kenya Police Service officers at Eastern Mau forest in Mariashoni in Molo, Nakuru County on July 16, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

At least 5,300 members of the Ogiek are targeted for eviction as the government moves to restore the water tower. So far, only less than 1,000 members of the community have been resettled by the government.

At least more than 300 houses have been torched by the KFS officers after the owners removed their belongings.

Kenya Forest Service is undertaking a multi-agency operation to reclaim Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget and Oleposmoru forests within Mau Forest Complex. The operation started on June 27, 2020. 

The mission of the operation is to stop all illegal human activities from government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest Complex. At least 4500 hectares of forest land has been reclaimed, 945 illegal structures destroyed.

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MUST READ: RESIST THE GRAB OF INDIGENOUS LANDS

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LEARN MORE AND SUPPORT THE OGIEK

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UPDATES:

Multi-agency team to re-mark Mau borders

By Caroline Chebet - 08. August 2020

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, Lands PS Nicholas Muraguri and his Environment and Forestry counterpart Chris Kiptoo at Neissuit Primary School in Njoro constituency during a meeting with elders from Kipsigis, Tugen and Ogiek communities yesterday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A multi-agency team has been formed to resolve the Eastern Mau land dispute that has led to evictions and ethnic clashes.

The team, which commenced its work yesterday after touring affected areas of Marioshioni and Nessuit in Eastern Mau, is expected to demarcate clear boundaries between settlement schemes and forest land.

The team is drawn from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Lands.

Long-standing issues

Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said the initiative is geared towards resolving long-standing issues of Mau forest land and restoring degraded forest lands by 2022.

Lands PS Nicholas Muraguri said the team has already met local leaders and communities.

He said the team will be demarcating the boundaries based on 1994 maps to avoid clashing of foresters and communities.

“Clear demarcation will also pave way for resolving the caveat issue in the Mau where those residing outside forest land will acquire titles,” he said.

He said the multi-agency team will take a month to complete the demarcation process.

“Other pronouncements factoring in Ogiek in terms of implementation of the African Court ruling will be made after demarcation of boundaries,” Dr Muraguri added.

He said the government is determined to stop the conflicts. In June, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) started evictions from the 57,000-hectare Eastern Mau which, according to Ecosystem Conservator Frank Misonge, half of it has been encroached on.

Nessuit Member of County Assembly, who is also deputy speaker at the Nakuru County Assembly, Kipkemoi Tonui, had sued KFS, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya over the Mau evictions.

Mr Tonui, through lawyers Kipkoech Ng’etich and Renny Langat, said Tobiko and Natembeya are coordinating an operation to disturb residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes having commenced evictions. 

Speaking during the stakeholder meeting at Nessuit with the multi-agency team, Tonui said he is ready to withdraw the case if a clear roadmap in demarcating forest boundaries is followed.

SEE ALSO:

Why region near Mau is beset by perennial land rows, flare-ups

Deliberate planning should save our water towers, livelihoods

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Threats, politics and evictions: Who will save East Africa’s most important forest?

By Caroline Chebet - 07. August 2020

Kenya Forest Service officers (KFS) during an operation to flush out illegal settlers at Marioshoni Forest in the Mau Forest Complex on June 3, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

When the history of conservation in the country is finally written, Mau forest will occupy several chapters.

The forest has over the years become synonymous with the battle to protect the country’s water towers, punctuated by tales of evictions and affected families crying out in cold squatter camps.

The 455,000-hectare water tower comprises 22 blocks that sustain the flow of water to documented 12 rivers and lakes across the region, with most of the evictions taking place in Maasai Mau and Mau Eastern blocks.

Most encroached

These are the most encroached areas in one of the country’s most treasured World Heritage Sites.

While the forest complex is the source of 60 per cent of Lake Victoria, which is shared between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the forest is also key in supporting farming activities and electricity production.

The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem shared by both Kenya and Tanzania is also dependent on the forest complex to sustain the flow of the Mara River that supports one of the world’s wonders.

Tanzania’s Lake Natron, a key breeding ground for migratory birds and a home to millions of flamingos is also dependent on the forest, just as Kenya’s Lake Nakuru and Elementaita.

Greenlife Nature and Ecosystem Network Director Richard Keter said Mau forest plays a critical role in the flow of many rivers in the region.

“Mau forest Complex is not only a resource to Kenya, East Africa entirely depends on it to sustain the flow of its rivers. It is a key resource that should be protected by all means,” Keter said.

As recognition of its status, the forest complex was admitted to the Queen’s Common Wealth Canopy, a status expected to raise global awareness and boost conservation as the largest indigenous Mountain Forest in East Africa.

Despite its status, restoration efforts have also been hampered by politics and numerous court cases seeking to stop the eviction of people living in the forest.

These efforts have however helped maintain the spotlight on the significance of the forest and helped in saving huge tracts previously occupied by squatters.   

Between 2008 and 2010, for example, the then Prime Minister Raila Odinga initiated a drive to reclaim the Mau Complex. The programme was withdrawn after it was politicised.

About two million trees were planted in some sections of the complex.

In 2009, more than 1,000 settlers in South West Mau were also kicked out. Rhino Ark has since fenced some section of South West and Eburu forest within Mau to avoid encroachment.

In November 2019, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said over 35,000 hectares had been reclaimed in the Maasai Mau. The restoration was done in phases. Phase One that ended in 2018 recovered more than 11,000 hectares and the 2019 Phase Two reclaimed more than 22,000 hectares.

Evictions

In the same year, more than 10,000 families were evicted from the forest.

“The efforts to restore Mau over the years have been successful. Replanting has been key,” Dr Isaac Kalua, former Kenya Water Tower Agency chairperson said.

According to Mau Ecosystem conservator Frank Misonge, 238.1 hectares has been rehabilitated with 225,780 seedlings. However 4,432.9 ha are yet to be planted, of which 2,000 will be left for regeneration.

The block comprises Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Marioshioni, Nessuit and Bararget forests.

The current evictions in Eastern Mau, Misonge said, yielded additional 6,000 hectares.

“We now have additional 6,000 hectares recovered through evictions that require urgent planting as all of it is degraded,” Mr Misonge said.

And while there are still swathes of bare land yet to be replanted, Njoro MP Charity Kathambi said of the more than six million acres of forest land across the country, five per cent translating to 300,000 acres have encroached in 109 forests across the country.

“The current forest cover is 6.9 per cent and most of the reclaimed areas of the forests are still bare, meaning a lot has to be done on replanting,” said the MP, who is also a member of the National Assembly’s Environment Committee.

Less trees, more crops

The East Mau Water Tower Policy brief indicates that forestland decreased by 40 per cent from 54,804 hectares in 1990 to 33,064 hectares in 2016 while cropland increased by 25 per cent from 1106 to 14,849 hectares over the same period.

In 2001, 35,301 hectares of forestland in the water tower was excised for human settlement in Elburgon, Kuresoi, Keringet, Kiptagich, Njoro and Olposimoru. The change in land cover increased cropland which had adverse effects on the water generating ability of the water tower.

“By 2009, more than 40 water sources had dried up and water flow in Sondu River became irregular, making it impossible for Sondu-Miriu hydropower plant to run in the dry season,” the policy brief stated.

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Draw clear borderline for Mau, says Ogiek

By Caroline Chebet - 22. July 2020

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko

Leaders and the Ogiek community living in Eastern Mau have called on the government to spell out clear boundaries to guide on conservation and resettlement.

The community members, who had camped in Marioshioni centre over the weekend waiting for Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko (pictured), said the only way to solve the Mau issue was clear boundaries. 

Hundreds of families evicted from Eastern Mau Forest were over the weekend left dejected after Tobiko failed to show up for a scheduled visit.

“We wanted the issue to be resolved once and for all. It is a painful affair that we are victims of eviction. We are hopeful that since we are out of our homes, the government will come up with a solution,” Sarah Osasi, one of the residents, said.

She said forest encroachment was a major concern, but they need to resettle the community to pave way for conservation.

“People are out of the forest. The government should clear the issue so nobody goes back there. We are ready for the implementation of court order,” Osasi added.

Ogiek council of elders chairman Joseph Towett said 700 families have been rendered homeless from the evictions and the government needs to implement the 2014 court ruling and lift the caveat on Mau land.

Njoro Member of Parliament Charity Kathambi said government should state clear boundaries of all forests across the country and stop nullifying title deeds that were previously validated. She said unclear boundaries has caused a lot of confusion leading to evictions in Mau.

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KFS GOES AGAINST CS ENVIRONMENT DIRECTIVES

24. July 2020

However, at another venue the CS banned the growing of exotic trees in forest plantations, which has been a major source of revenue for the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for decades, and instead ordered the growing of indigenous trees.

“The KFS board should not put roadblocks on this move. They just have to comply because we want the water levels back in the rivers,” he said.

“The existing exotic trees should be cut when they mature and replaced with indigenous ones.”

Tobiko said the forest had acres of bamboo, but they had been destroyed over the years.

He also banned grazing of livestock in the proposed water tower, saying the animals will destroy seedlings.

While from a nature protection point of view these moves are welcomed, the CS has to understand and respect the rights of the Indigenous people, like the Ogiek, who are and were the stewards of the whole Mau Forest complex since times immemorial and ensured that the forests were intact, that then were robbed first by the colonial government and subsequently by KFS. The Cabinet Secretary also would be ill-advised to just follow the ideas of UN Agenda 21 by trying to alienate the Indigenous people from their forest.

KFS has been known since decades to be one of the most corrupt governmental bodies, robbing the forests in cohorts with wealthy timber companies and hundreds of cases are still pending

But still the KFS continues with its malpractices and now even plays into politics while going agains directives by clearing Indigenous forests, planting exotic trees and trying to hand out cleaed forest land to farmers.

Plan to clear 1,500 acres of Menengai forest sparks uproar

By Caroline Chebet - 24. June 2020

Farmers cultivating a cleared section of Menengai Forest in Nakuru. Conservationists have warned against clearing swathes of indigenous trees in the forest. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Residents and conservationists have criticised a decision by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to clear more than 1,500 acres of indigenous trees at Menengai forest to accommodate farmers.

The forest has since 1930 been considered a buffer zone between Lake Nakuru National Park and a rapidly expanding Nakuru town.

It is fronted by Milimani Estate in the South, Ngachura and Bahati in the East, Solai in the North and Olo-Rongai in the West.

The Standard has established that some 1,526 acres of indigenous trees are being cleared to pave way for exotic bluegums to be cultivated under the Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme (Pelis), formerly known as the shamba system.

Forest fires

The KFS has defended the decision.

“The challenge with Menengai forest is illegal logging and forest fires. The shrubs and a few indigenous tree species are susceptible to forest fires and we are replacing them with bluegum. The area is under Pelis,” said Erastus Mugo, the forest station manager.

A number of residents and conservationists are, however, worried that the scheme will strip off Menengai hills of natural forest cover.

Menengai is a major tourist attraction, being home to the world-renown Menengai crater and a Sh60 billion geothermal plant.

Conservationists say clearing huge swathes of the natural forest would be an environmental disaster.

“Felling of these trees and shrubs that hold the soil in the area together is calling for disaster. The forest is also home to wildlife and burrowing animals. Replacing the natural cover with exotic trees amounts to doing away with the area’s ecosystem,” said Miheso Musindi, secretary of Milimani Residents Association.

According to Mr Miheso, the loose soils of Menengai make the area susceptible to landslides and fault lines and replacing the natural forest with exotic trees will expose neighbouring estates to danger and Lake Nakuru to siltation.

“The decision to replace the indigenous tree species is worrying. It means that all the soil will be swept downstream to Lake Nakuru. There will be no control of water running downhill and this will cause more havoc,” he said.

However, KFS says the targeted area forms an insignificant part of the 14,864-acre forest.

“The forest is zoned, with the natural forest covering 5,400 hectares (13,338 acres) and an exotic forest covering 618 ha (1,526 acres),” said Mugo.

Inadequate staff

He said protecting the natural forest from fires and loggers was challenging, especially with inadequate staff.

“We have 12 officers tasked to take care of 13,338 acres,” he said.

According to the KFS officer, bluegums would be easier to manage and more profitable.

“Bluegums are more resistant to fire outbreaks. They also generate revenue,” he said.

But residents have poked holes into the KFS argument.

Benson Ng’ang’a said the indigenous trees cover has over the years survived forest fires, intense logging and landslides.

“This area is so prone to fault lines that it is hard to maintain the roads passing through,” he said.

However, farmers set to benefit from the forest’s clearing supported the KFS plan.

“It will give us land to farm potatoes and beans,” said Abishack Muthoni.

A 2018 report on the status of forests in Kenya revealed that Pelis was the most abused scheme in the sector and that it contributed to the declining indigenous forest cover in the country.

In the Pelis scheme, KFS allows communities living next to forests to cultivate crops while taking care of young trees.

However, the 2018 task force indicated that the scheme led to the illegal conversion of indigenous forest land into plantations.

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Slow Food supports evicted Ogiek Community with a fundraising campaign. Let’s make a difference together!

We received very disturbing news from our network in Kenya: members of the Ogiek indigenous community and Slow Food activists are being illegally and forcibly evicted from their ancestral land, the Mau Forest.

Slow Food has launched today a fundraising campaign to help support the Ogiek families who lost everything. If you wish to donate, you can do it here

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

The Kenyan Forest Service has destroyed the homes of several Ogiek families, rendering them homeless in the midst of the rainy season with nowhere to shelter from the rain and cold, vulnerable to contagion, and unable to access their food sources and livelihood. As of July 13, the official number of displaced Ogiek families amounted to 100 (approximately 600 people) but numbers could be much bigger.

The East Mau Forest has been our home since time immemorial. Today I am a sad Ogiek youth, a young parent, a mother of two, seeing my people being evicted from our home, the foundation of our culture, traditions, and livelihoods. It has been so painful to see our homes reduced to ashes. We are now spending nights in the cold, some sheltered in schools where following the WHO guidelines on Covid-19 prevention is a nightmare. We are helpless and feel alone,” said Clare Rono, member of the Ogiek Community and Slow Food activist.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE OGIEK INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY

As Slow Food has been advocating for years, indigenous peoples are vital to the protection of biodiversity. The Ogiek are one of Kenya’s oldest tribes and have survived long years of persecution as their ancestral land, the forest, has been exploited for over a century to make wood or tea plantations, losing 60% of their tree cover. In 2017, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights officially established their full right to inhabit the Mau forest as a fundamental element for their survival and for the exercise of their culture, customs, traditions, religion, and the well-being of their community.

The Ogiek Community has suffered for a long time, and this dates back to the colonial era. They have continued to be evicted from their ancestral land in total disregard of their welfare, rights, and the 2017 African Court on human and peoples rights judgment that gave them the right to live in Mau Forest. As Slow Food Kenya, we condemn the recent evictions, they have caused a lot of suffering and disruptions to the community that has played a significant role in protecting the forest while supporting their livelihood. As Slow Food Kenya, we have been working with the Ogiek Community to promote their traditional honey and protect the Mau ecosystem that gives it its unique characteristic,” says John Kariuki, Slow Food International Councillor for East Africa. The Ogiek’s way of life is based on the natural resources provided by the forest; they are hunter-gatherers whose main activity is apiculture. Indeed, the Ogiek Honey Slow Food Presidium was launched in 2015 to help protect the Mau Forest ecosystem and promote the value of the Ogiek people’s ancestral culture through honey, as a valuable product that has carried the community through droughts and famines. 

“It’s so sad to our community, as we know it’s our homeland, some of our families were evicted despite fighting for our rights through the court of law. The Ogiek community shall have back their motherland as ruled by the court justices” said Martin Lele, Slow Food Ogiek Honey Presidium Coordinator.

The evictions will have negative social, economic, and cultural consequences affecting the Ogiek’s livelihood, local biodiversity, and food security. This time of year is especially important for honey production because the small black African honey bees kept by the Ogiek prefer the nectar produced by the Dombeya goetzeni plant’s flowers, which gives the honey collected in August its characteristic whitish-grey color and unique flavor.

The Kenyan Government claims these evictions are intended to remove Ogiek who they considered to be living outside of the territory allocated to them, even after they won a constitutional case against the Kenyan Government 2017, after a 20-year fight, when the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights found the Kenyan Government had violated the rights of the Ogiek community to their ancestral land. However, the Government has never clarified nor communicated where the official border of the community’s territory lies. 

SLOW FOOD SUPPORT AND HOW YOU CAN HELP

Slow Food condemns this violation against the rights of the Ogiek community. This is why, on July 20, Slow Food, Slow Food Kenya and Slow Food Youth Network, together with other organizations of the civil society, sent out a statement letter to Mr. Keriako Tobiko (Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment & Forestry) to immediately stop the ongoing forced evictions of the Ogiek community in Kenya. And today, July 24, Slow Food has launched a fundraising campaign to alleviate the difficulties of those in greatest need at this time. Thanks to your contributions, Slow Food Kenya will also deliver food bought from local producers of the Slow Food network, and personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to face the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Help us!

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Kenya’s forest communities face eviction from ancestral lands – even during pandemic

By Nyawira Mwangi - 24. July 2020

Ogiek people by a tree stump in the Mau forest. Often polical settlements of other people in the Mau Forest and their subsequent forest destruction for farming have caused havoc.  Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Forest-dwelling communities in Kenya are being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands, as temperatures plummet and coronavirus cases soar, land rights campaigners said on Thursday.

The Community Land Action Now (CLAN), a network of more than 130 indigenous community groups, said the evictions by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) had left hundreds of families in the Rift Valley region homeless and struggling to survive.

About 300 families from the Ogiek community who inhabit the Mau Forest, and 28 families from the Sengwer people in Embobut Forest had seen their homes demolished or burnt down, and their farms destroyed by forest guards, they said.

“Communities living in forests are finding it quite difficult because of these evictions. There should be a stoppage to these evictions,” said Peter Kitelo, who chairs the CLAN network, during a virtual press conference.

Officials from KFS were not immediately available for comment but the government has previously cited protection and conservation of the forests as the reason for the evictions.

Millions of people from Kenya’s indigenous and other marginalized groups face stiff challenges in exercising their land rights as many do not have title deeds, despite having inhabited the forests for centuries, say campaigners.

The Mau forest is home to about 50,000 Ogiek people who depend on it for their traditional livelihoods, including hunting and foraging.

Yet since colonial times, they have faced repeated evictions as their land is allocated to other communities for political reasons and used for commercial purposes, including logging.

The African Court on Human and People’s Rights recognised their right over their ancestral home in a landmark ruling three years ago, but the Kenyan government has failed to implement the decision.

It previously said the removal of the Ogiek people was necessary to protect the Mau Forest, known as the east African nation’s “water tower” because it channels rainwater into a dozen major rivers and lakes.

While in western Kenya, the Sengwer hunter-gatherers have fought for more than five decades for the right to live in the Embobut forest in the Cherengany Hills from where they were first evicted by British colonialists. They have repeatedly faced harassment and eviction. The latest threat was from a now halted European Union-funded water conservation project.

“These evictions have really hit us because it’s evictions during COVID times. It’s evictions when kids are not at school and during the very coldest season of the year,” said Milka Chepkorir, a representative from the Sengwer community.

Kenya has 15,601 confirmed cases of the disease and 263 deaths, according to the ministry of health.

Representatives from the Ogiek and Sengwer groups called on the government to recognise their rights as shareholders of the forests, adding that local communities were the best protectors and conservers of the environment.

“We find ourselves treated like less than citizens, being evicted every now and then,” said Daniel Kobei, executive director of the Ogiek People’s Development Program.

“People have forgotten the fact that the Ogiek people are the owners of the forest. We are good at protecting the forests.”

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READ MORE ABOUT OGIEK IN THE NEWS

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Tobiko skips tour of Mariashoni in Eastern Mau Forest

Ogiek Council of Elders chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett (right) addressing members of the community at Mariashoni, Molo, Nakuru County on July 18, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Summary

  • The community first moved to court in 1997 and obtained an order restricting the government against settling people in the Eastern Mau Complex.
  • The matter, which dragged in court for 17 years, was determined in 2014.

By FRANCIS MUREITHI - 19. July 2020

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko much publicised tour of the Eastern Mau Forest Complex in Mariashoni, Molo, Nakuru County on Saturday was cancelled in the last minute.

Hundreds of members of Ogiek community, who have been evicted from the water tower converged at Mariashoni trading centre as early as 7am Saturday.  

Area chief, and police officers patrolled the trading centre and monitored the movement of residents. However, by 1pm, the CS had not arrived.

A source told the Nation that Mr Tobiko arrived in Nakuru town and held a closed door meeting with the Regional Commissioner George Natembeya and top Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

It was not immediately established why he skipped the tour of the water tower. Efforts to reach the Cabinet secretary were futile as he did not pick our calls.

Ogiek elders had disputed new cutlines in the water tower. On Thursday, Molo Deputy Commissioner David Wanyonyi toured the area and identified the cutlines in the presence of some elders.

However, the exercise to identify the boundaries was criticised by the elders who described it as a violation of a court order. The residents were later addressed by Ogiek Council of Elders Chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett.

“We were hoping to welcome CS Tobiko in Mariashoni and hear what plans he has to resettle more than 700 families of the Ogiek who have so far been evicted from the forest,” said Mr Towett.

“We want CS Tobiko to appoint two working committees led by National Environment Management Authority (Nema), KFS and National Land Commission, provincial administration and National Museums of Kenya to end 30 years of violation of Ogiek human rights,” said Mr Towett.

He urged the minister to form the second committee to deal with the resettlement of the Ogiek.

Mr Towett said: “Even if Ogiek are resettled without addressing the runaway poverty, they are likely to sell their land,” added Mr Towett.

Reverend Nelson Timose, who was evicted from the forest, said that many of the Ogiek were living in squalid conditions in various camps in the area.

“During this period of coronavirus pandemic it is very dangerous to have people living in camps and we urge the government to address this crisis once and for all. The Ogiek have suffered for more than three decades while seeking justice,” said Rev Timose. 

The community first moved to court in 1997 and obtained an order restricting the government against settling people in the Eastern Mau Complex. The matter, which dragged in court for 17 years, was determined in 2014.

The Environment and Lands Court Judge Pauline Nyamweya directed the National Land Commission to open a register of members of the Ogiek in consultation with their council of elders and identify land for their settlement, all within one year.

The court also nullified all illegally obtained title deeds from the complex and imposed a caveat.

Author:

F. Mureithi

FRANCIS MUREITHI

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Mau Evictions of Settlers halted, but Indigenous Ogiek still in Peril

The Kenya Government still is in violation of national and international laws, but simply continues with their Salami tactics.

Reprieve for 45,000 Mau Forest settlers as court halts evictions

By Julius Chepkwony- 21. July 2020

[From left] Lawyer Kipkoech Ngetich, Lawyer Joshua Terer, Nakuru County Assembly Deputy Speaker Samuel Tonui and Renny Langat at Nakuru Law Courts on July 16, 2020, after filing a petition to stop the ongoing Mau Forest Evictions in Marioshoni. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru has issued orders barring the government from evicting people from the Eastern Mau Complex.

Justice John Mutungi issued the orders following a petition filed by Nessuit Ward Member of County Assembly Samuel Tonui.

Tonui, who is also the Deputy Speaker at the Nakuru County Assembly, went to court under a certificate of urgency, to sue Kenya Forest Service, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko and the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya.

The Law Society of Kenya was named as interested party in the case.

Tonui through lawyer Kipkoech Ng'etich and Renny Langat, said Tobiko and Natembeya are coordinating an egregious operation to annihilate the residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes having commenced forceful evictions.

The exercise as per the documents filed in court began on June 28, 2020, and a multi-agency operation undertaken by KFS officers in conjunction with officers from National Police Service.

"The said officers have torched and destroyed property worth millions of shillings on a disguise that the operation is intended to stop all illegal human activities and from government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest Complex," read the petition in part.

Tonui noted that vide Gazette Notice No. 889 dated January 30, 2001, and published on February 16, 2001, the Government through the then Minister of Environment altered the boundary of the Eastern Mau Forest by excising an area of land approximately 35,301.01 hectares. This led to the creation of the now Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes.

He said a survey was conducted in 1997 and beacons placed and cutline established.

"There is a real live and serious threat to security, peace and stability of the area of the forceful evictions, malicious destruction of property and alienation of private owners’ property rights illegally and unlawfully proceeds,” read the suit.

The manner in which the eviction is being executed according to the MCA is inhumane.

He said the over 45,000 locals being evicted have valid title deeds issued by the Government in the years 1997, 2005 and in 2013.

Tonui sought orders directing KFS, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Regional Commissioner be barred from interfering with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of property rights of the residents in the area.

Justice Mutungi having perused the Notice of Motion dated July 16, 2020, together with the petition said he was persuaded that it raises weighty and valid constitutional issues.

"I am persuaded the petition raises weighty and valid constitutional issues, whether or not the residents right to property are likely to be violated if the evictions are carried on and whether or not the forest land eventually allocated to some residents was lawful degazetted and excised," read part of the orders of the court.

The judge further noted that some of the residents hold titles dating back to 1991 and there is need to establish their validity.

He noted that rendering people homeless during the Covid-19 period could be catastrophic.

"Having regard to the issues and the implications that go with evictions where a multitude of persons may be rendered homeless and that could be particularly catastrophic during this period of Covid-19 pandemic and I am persuaded to grant conservatory order pending hearing and determination of Notice of Motion," stated Justice Mutungi.

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Njoro MP urges government to stop evictions in Eastern Mau

By Caroline Chebet - 13. July 2020

Njoro Member of Parliament Charity Kathambi (pictured) has asked the government to stop evictions in Eastern Mau.

The MP said the current evictions in Mau have put over 20,000 families in a humanitarian crisis and a looming disaster when coupled with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Kathambi said the forced removal of families from Eastern Mau will affect parts of Njoro, Molo, Kuresoi North and Kuresoi South sub-counties.

"The current evictions in Mau are posing a big humanitarian crisis. The situation is aggravated by Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing heavy rains," she said.

Kathambi added that although the government had not come out clearly on the boundary issue with court cases still pending, communication from Kenya Forest Service indicates that even hundreds of those outside the cut-line will be forced out.

"It is sad that the State is evicting people from their homes without proper guidelines on the cut-line. The locals do not even know which cut-line the government is talking about," she added.

With thousands of families being targeted in the evictions, she said the affected sub-counties in Nakuru are also starring at food insecurity and homelessness.

"Odd enough, these areas have State funded facilities including hospitals and schools," she said.

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Indigenous Rights

How Kenya’s Indigenous Ogiek are Using Modern Technology to Validate their Land Rights

By Isaiah Esipisu - 21. July 2020

72-year-old Ogiek community elder, Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga, inspects one of the trees felled by foreigners in 1976. Ogiek community protests put an end to government approved logging of the indigenous red cedar trees here. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

72-year-old Ogiek community elder, Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga, inspects one of the trees felled by foreigners in 1976. Ogiek community protests put an end to government approved logging of the indigenous red cedar trees here. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

CHEPKITALE, Kenya (IPS) - The Ogiek community, indigenous peoples from Kenya’s Chepkitale National Reserve, are in the process of implementing a modern tool to inform and guide the conservation and management of the natural forest. The community has inhabited this area for many generations, long before Kenya was a republic. Through this process, they hope to get the government to formally recognise their customary tenure in line with the Community Land Act.

In collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), community elders, civil society members and representatives from the 32 clans that form the Chepkitale Ogiek community are mapping their ancestral territory using a methodology known as Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM).

Technically speaking, P3DM or 3D maps brings together three elements that were previously considered impossible to integrate – local spatial and natural resource knowledge, geographic information systems (GIS) and physical modelling.

“The mapping will support the spatial planning and management of the Chepkitale National Reserve by identifying actions required to address the various challenges affecting the management and conservation of the natural resources in the targeted area,” John Owino, Programme Officer for the Water and Wetlands Programme at IUCN, told IPS.

The process, which started in 2018, involves extensive dialogue with community members in order to document their history, indigenous knowledge of forest conservation and protection of natural resources using their traditional laws and geographical territories.

According to IUCN, which is providing both technical and financial support, the exercise was projected to be completed by the end of 2020. However, this target will be delayed as a result of the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the Ogiek’s unique traditional community laws recorded in the participatory mapping exercise state that charcoal burning is totally prohibited, poaching is strictly forbidden and commercial farming is considered illicit.

“In this community, we relate with trees and nature the same way we relate with humans. Felling a mature tree in our culture is synonymous to killing a parental figure,” Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga, a 72-year-old community elder, told IPS. “Why should you cut down a tree when you can harvest its branches and use them for whatever purpose?” he posed.

Very famously, in 1976, the Ogiek community protests put an end to government-approved logging of the indigenous red cedar trees here.

The trees, felled some 44 years ago, still lie perfectly untouched on the ground in Loboot village.

The Ogiek indigenous community who live in Kenya’s Mount Elgon forest have conserved the forest’s natural ecosystem for centuries. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

The Ogiek indigenous community who live in Kenya’s Mount Elgon forest have conserved the forest’s natural ecosystem for centuries. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

While the Ogiek are an asset to the conservation of the forested area within the park, their dispute with the government over their rights to the forested land has been a long-running one.

  • There have been several attempts by the government to evict the community from the forest, following the gazetting of the entire Ogiek community land as the ‘Chepkitale National Reserve in Mount Elgon,’ which made the land they live on a protected area from the year 2000.
  • Since then, police officers invaded the Ogiek community land several times, torching their houses, destroying their property and forcefully driving them away from the forest.
  • But in 2008, the community, through Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project (CIPDP) — a community based organisation that brings together all Ogiek community members — went to court for arbitration. The court issued orders to immediately halt the forceful evictions. However, the case is yet to be determined.

“In many indigenous communities, governments have always used an excuse of environmental destruction to evict residents, and that was the same thing they said about our community,” Peter Kitelo, co-founder of the CIPDP, told IPS.

“However, we have proved them wrong, and when the case is finally determined, we are very hopeful that we will emerge victorious,” he said.

The 3D mapping, according to Owino, is in line with the Whakatane Mechanism, an IUCN initiative that supports the implementation of “the new paradigm” of conservation. It focuses on situations where indigenous peoples and/or local communities are directly associated with protected areas and are involved in its development and conservation as a result of their land and resource rights, including tenure, access and use.

  • The mechanism promotes and supports the respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and their free prior and informed consent in protected areas policy and practice, as required by IUCN resolutions, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There are previous examples of P3DM mapping proving successful among another Ogiek communities — those in the Mau Forest.

  • In 2006, a P3DM exercise involving 120 men and women from 21 Ogiek clans in the Mau Forest resulted in a 3D map of the Eastern Mau Forest Complex.
  • According to the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the 3D map was persuasive enough to convince the Kenyan Government of the Ogiek’s right to the land, and the need to protect the area from land grabbing and resource exploitation.

The CTA further reported that a rich P3DM portfolio of outputs, including reports, papers and maps, have been used at international forums to document the value of local/indigenous knowledge in sustainable natural resource management, conflict management and climate change adaptation, and in bridging the gap between scientific and traditional knowledge systems.

In addition to the 3D map, the Ogiek community is already working with the National Land Commission of Kenya, an independent body with several mandates. Among them is the mandate to initiate investigations, on its own initiative or based on a complaint, into present or historical land injustices and to recommend appropriate redress.

“Once completed, the 3D map will be a very important tool for this community because apart from effective management of the natural resources in Chepkitale, we will use it as an instrument to prove how we have sustainably coexisted with nature for generations,” said Kitelo.

The Ogiek community want their territory officially recognised as community land provided for by Kenya’s new constitution, particularly in relation to the Community Land Act, 2016, which provides for the “recognition, protection and registration of community land rights; management and administration of community land”.

According to elderly members of the Ogiek community, the forest is their main source of livelihood.

Inside the forest, the community keeps bees for honey production, which is a major part of their diet apart from milk, blood and meat. They also gather herbs from the indigenous trees, shrubs and forest vegetation, and feed on some species found in the forest. Their diet is not limited to bamboo shoots, wild mushrooms and wild vegetables such as stinging nettle.

“Since I was born 72 years ago, this forest has always been the main source of our livelihoods,” Chemwotei Muranga told IPS.

Now, armed with traditional knowledge of forest management and conservation of natural resources, community-based rules and regulations, and provisions within the country’s new constitution and the Community Land Act— they hope to be doing so for centuries to come.

“Living in such a place is the only lifestyle I understand,” Chemwotei Muranga said.

The inclusive approach of supporting indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation will be a major focus at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, next January. The topic falls under one of the main themes of the Congress, Upholding rights, ensuring effective and equitable governance with sessions aiming to discuss and provide recommendations for how the conservation community can support the existing stewardship of indigenous peoples and local communities.

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Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21 

Rosa Koire Exposes UN Agenda 21 2030

•Sep 8, 2019

Peter8aus8Berlin

Read also Rosa Koire's book. Behind the Green Mask, UN Agenda 21.

As she states: "Awareness is the first step in the Resistance."

Rosa Koire, ASA is a forensic commercial real estate appraiser specializing in eminent domain valuation. Her nearly thirty years of experience analyzing land use and property value enabled her to recognize the planning revolution sweeping the nation. While fighting to stop a huge redevelopment project in her city she researched the corporate, political and financial interests behind it and found UN Agenda 21. Rosa speaks across the nation and is a regular blogger on her web site Democrats Against UN agenda 21.com

UNDERSTAND FULLY: Behind the Green Mask

Resist the NWO! AGENDA 21

Armed and Accurate NO FEAR

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BE AWARE:

The U.N. Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development - Exposed

Aug 30, 2016

Cassa Ramona

In this video, Dan Titus of iAgenda21.com, explains what Sustainable Development (SD) is from the experts claims and offers a counter point of view. He talks about the genesis of SD and how it is fomented through crisis, artificial scarcity, and forced conservation aka, rationing. He couches his argument within the framework of two global warming bills in California and ties them directly to international influences of U.N. Agenda 21 and The U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Agenda 21 News Ceases Publication

Freedom Advocates, publisher of Agenda 21 News, has decided to cease further publication of Agenda 21 News posts. This discontinuation of the Agenda 21 News Digest takes effect immediately. Agenda21News.com will remain live for at least a month, so that those who would like to review or download articles can do so.
We would like to acknowledge the fine work performed by Katherine Lehman in editing the publication for the last year.
We encourage readers to become aware of two other Agenda 21 related websites to provide you with regular Agenda 21 news inputs:
· iAgenda21.com
· SustainableFreedomLab.org
Also available to you are infrequent emails from Freedom Advocates. If you are not currently receiving them, you can sign up for them at www.FreedomAdvocates.org.
These sources are helpful in keeping you informed regarding the Globalist / Agenda 21 movement.
Thank you for your interest in Agenda 21 News.

Agenda 21 — Sustainable Development

Agenda 21 - Earth SummitSustainable Development is the blueprint being used across America and around the world to implement the United Nations Agenda 21 Programme.
To help keep you up-to-date on the transformation, Agenda21News delivers relevant news and information. You will see concrete examples and explanations of Sustainable Development and its many faces - Smart Growth, Regionalism, Charter Schools, Common Core, ICLEI, the Wildlands Network, Public-Private Partnerships, and much more.
In summary, Sustainable Development seeks (1) the abolition of private property; (2) "global citizenship” with allegiance to a tyrannical system; (3) complete top down control utilizing technology (technocracy) and neighborhood snitches; and (4) to create discordance within the human population.
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