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Despite a proven track record of maintaining their forests, the Ogiek community have suffered ongoing evictions from their ancestral lands. This project aims to support them to seek legal recognition of their territory, run an awareness-raising campaign, and preserve traditional cultural practices.
The Ogiek are an Indigenous community in the Mount Elgon region of Kenya. Despite having proven themselves as the best custodians of the forest, Ogiek presence on their last remaining self-governing ancestral territory was made illegal in 2000 when it was converted into a ‘protected area’ without their consent. The Ogiek are being evicted by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in the name of forest conservation. However, the government’s own taskforce concluded that the KFS is in fact responsible for increased deforestation.
The Ogiek have lived on and stewarded their land for millennia. Without their presence, the integrity of their forests and biodiversity is at risk because the KFS make money from allowing farmers to move in, deforest land, and benefit from cash crops.
Size of Wales, in partnership with Forest People’s Programme and Mt Elgon Ogiek peoples’ own community-based organisation, Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples Development Project, is supporting the Ogiek people to seek legal recognition and regain the rights to their ancestral lands.
As part of the project, the Ogiek will run a media campaign and make a documentary film to challenge the current narrative and misconceptions related to their eviction. They will share their story first-hand of how the community contributes to conservation and climate protection.
To protect their forests, the community will also document the locations and traditional uses of medicinal plants on their territory. This practice is still widely used by the Ogiek, although it is fading fast. Mapping and documenting these medicinal plants could provide crucial protection for Mount Elgon’s forests.
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) are based in the UK but work with forest-dwelling communities across the globe, supporting them to promote an alternative vision of how forests should be managed and controlled, based on respect for the rights of the peoples who know them best.Learn more
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