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Accepted Paper:

How to challenge coercive conservation and instead enable communities to sustain and be sustained by their lands? The Ogiek of Mount Elgon, Kenya  


Justin Kenrick (Forest Peoples Programme)
Peter Kitelo

Paper short abstract:

The Elgon Ogiek seek to challenge a coercive conservation approach that burns homes and evicts the community. What are the immediate and deeper blocks to changing such a failed approach to conservation? How to secure the enabling conditions for community tenure based conservation?

Paper long abstract:

The Ogiek community at Mt Elgon have suffered continual evictions in the name of conservation, ever since British colonial rule, while trying to ensure conservation is no longer based on burning homes and evictions but on securing Ogiek community tenure and sustainable practices.


1. Internationally, the Ogiek

(i) have engaged in IUCN’s Whakatane process which brought Government ministries, the World Bank, national and international conservation bodies to the ground to see for themselves that the Ogiek’s presence on their lands is a benefit to biodiversity, and

(ii) have been engaged by the World Bank’s Natural Resource Management project, EU’s WaTER Tower project, and UNDP’s REDD process, which have provided pretexts for threatened evictions in the name of biodiversity conservation;

2. Nationally, the Ogiek have sought to secure their community land rights through using the Community Land Act, negotiating directly with government, and using the courts;

3. Territorially, the Ogiek have undertaken mapping, zoning, writing down sustainability bylaws, developing governance structures and community scouts to sustain the Ogiek way of life, and to try to stop the destruction of the forests by the Kenya Forest Service, which the Government’s own Taskforce has judged to be exploiting the forests. 

What are the challenges to securing the enabling conditions for community tenure based conservation in place of the failed ‘eviction and compensation’, ‘core area and buffer area’ model?

Panel P064
How communities' conserve, and how protected areas can destroy communities' ability to conserve