BREAKING NEWS 2004

 

Index of this compilation

Update: 13.09.2004

Update: 11.09.2004

Update: 01.08.2004

Maasai Reject IUCN Project in Loita Forest - 14. - 20.06.2004

 

One killed in fight for traditional forest of Maasai, implicating controversial IUCN project with EU funding.

Govt urged to resolve fate of Shs200m project

THE PEOPLE DAILY, Saturday, June 19,2004
By EVELYNE OTIMA and CAROLINE WAFULA

THE government has been urged to step in and solve the controversy surrounding a Shs200 million project in purko Naimina-Enkinyo Forest in Narok district .

The three-year project being undertaken by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN) has been a source of protracted conflict between the initiators who have the support of the Government and a section of the local Community who are opposed to it’s implementation.

It is funded by the European Union through IUCN and was approved by the district Environmental and Development Committees (DEDC) in April but has been politicised all a long.

One person was killed last week following a clashes between Community members and the provincial administration after a meeting called to discuss the controversial issues aborted.

Nkone Ndua was among locals had gathered at Ilkerin shopping centre in anticipation of a meeting with IUCN officials and the local government administration.

A brother of the deceased Joshua Ndua claimed yesterday that his brother was shot dead during the incident on June 10.

The family of the decreased is now demanding an immediate inquiry into the killing and arrest of those who were involved.

The Independent Medico Legal Unit speaking about the incident yesterday condemned what they termed as an extra judicial killing and criticised the government for failing to move in to resolve the matter.

Said IMLU programme officer Dinah Kituyi, “it is the responsibility of the government to find a way of dealing with such matters.”

She faulted the police accusing them of failing to protect the locals during the incident even though they were around.

 

Maasai Reject IUCN Project in Loita Forest

Suspicious: Having managed the forest for hundreds of years , the Loita Maasai are opposed to what they feel is ‘outsider interference’

The East African June 14-20. June 2004

By JOHN MBARIA
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


A PROJECT seeking to complement conservation efforts in the Loita forest of Kenya has been rejected by the Maasai Community along the Kenya / Tanzania border.

The project by the world conservation Union (IUCN) covers the 330 sq km upland forest lying between the Nguruman / Magadi escarpment and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Straddling the Kenya / Tanzania border, the largely Virgin forest has a wide diversity of vegetation and offers the local people not only timber and medical herbs, but also sites that continue to be of cultural and spiritual value to them.

According to a paper by IUCN, the Loita / Purko Naimina Enkiyio Forest Integrated Conservation and Development Project, it seeks to assist the community “to maintain the biodiversity and environmental values“ of the forest.

Besides the clash of cultures that is behind the Loita Maasai’s opposition to a project that is meant to conserve the Naimina Enkiyio forest the lion’s share of the Kshs200 million ($2.56 million ) EU grant for the project will go to salaries and allowances of IUCN workers and the purchase and maintenance of project vehicles and office equipment.

Last week, IUCN’s regional programme Co-ordinator for East Africa, Dr Geoffrey Howard, defended the budget, saying that it was not “secretive” and had been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the main financier, the European Commision. He said IUCN had initially wanted to second two technical assistants to the project but changed it’s mind later. “In any case , the expatriate will be bringing his international experience to the project“.

As started in it’s brief, the project is meant to complement the community’s efforts to conserve and manage forest.

But a number of the local people have come out to oppose it in a running row that observers say pits modern conservation science - as practised by IUCN - against the Loita people’s desire to maintain ownership and traditional management of the forest .

“This is a forest we have always fallen back on in times of calamity and for medicine “, said Vincent Ntekerei, a former lecturer at Narok Teachers ‘ Training College.

“We do not know IUCN’s real intention “, said another David Ole Kashu , who said that having managed the forest for hundreds of years the Loita are now opposed to what they feel is “outsider interference “.

Mr. Kashu and Mr Ntekerei belong to a group of largely educated and articulate local residents who, operating under the auspices of Concerned Citizens of Loita (CCL) - a loosely-organised body - have raised issue with the project.

During a public meeting held a month ago, speakers expressed the view that the locals should continue managing the forest “like we have always done for generations “.

They opposed IUCN’s proposed draft management plan for the forest . They said IUCN had participated in a project that ended up displacing communities around Ngorongoro in Tanzania in order to create a wildlife sanctuary there.

Dr Howard said , “It is true IUCN was involved in the development of a management plan in Ngorongoro in 1997 / 98 “. But he said that the project, which was managed by the Ngorongoro Management Authority became problematic after the donor reduced project time, “which led to one group in the relevant community not being consulted”.

Consequently , said Dr Howard , the disgruntled group , “with the help of a foreign organisation,” produced a video and a report that “substantially damaged IUCN’s image”.

The CCL group has called for the suspension of the project despite the Narok District Development Committee giving it a go a head.

The survival of the forest at time when most other forest in Kenya have largely lost their tree cover is attributed to the traditional intervention that the community has adopted. On a visit to the forest, The East African was informed that nobody is allowed to cut down any tree without the consent of the Loita Naimiana Enkiyio Conservation Trust.

Besides hosting sites sacred to most members of the Maasai community in Kenya and Tanzania, the Loita area is the seat of the chief Laibon , Mokombo Ole Simel, who is said to be a direct descendant of the famous Laibon Mbatian. Ole Simel, who is reputed to possess mystical powers, presides over social events in the area.

The institution of the Laibon, says a UNESCO publication entitled Ethnobotany of the Loita Maasai ; Towards Community management of the Forest of the Lost Child “ is central to the conservation of Loita Forest “.

But there is growing concern that following changes in lifestyle within the community, the recent introduction of agriculture and external pressure”, the forest is increasingly under threat .

If there is no well-organised management system, then it will not be long before massive plunder of the of the forest begins “, said Dr Howard. IUCN says that already, the 40,000-strong community has increased it’s harvest of the forest, lead to a scarcity of tree species that the community uses for building and fencing.

This development is more is more prominent at the forest edges and is forcing community members to go deeper into the forest.

 

Kenya:

The Maasai Stand up to IUCN Displacement Attempts from their Forest

WRM bulletin - July 2004

Way back in 1994, a group of NGO people –among whom the current WRM coordinator- were invited by the Maasai to visit a forest which they were struggling to save from tourism "development". As a means of providing international support to the struggle, an article was written and widely disseminated in November that year in Third World Network's magazine "Resurgence" (available at http://nativenet.uthscsa.edu/archive/nl/9412/0140.html). That struggle is still ongoing, but a new actor has appeared in scene -the IUCN- and what follows provides a detailed description of the situation as it now stands and on how the local people feel about it. 

The Naimina Enkiyio Forest, one of the few remaining indigenous forests in Kenya, is situated in Loita, in the south of the country, about 300 kilometers southwest of the country’s capital Nairobi. The forest ecosystem is considered a shrine by the estimated 40,000 Maasai of the Purko and Loita clans, since it is an important natural resource which has a long history of use by them. The Loita pastoralists consider the forest as alive, and responsive in many ways to their physical, spiritual and cultural needs. It serves as an important dry season grazing zone as well as a source for numerous rivers and is home to a wide array of fauna and flora ranging from elephants to rare bird and plant species. Particular trees are regarded as sacred. The many valuable forest-based products include products derived directly from trees (medicine, edible fruits and seeds, honey, and poles) as well as water, grass for livestock, and other plants. The Maasai see the forest as their responsibility and its sustainable use as a must. 

But now, a plan by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) may entail the Maasai’s displacement from the Naimina Enkiyio forest. This is not the first time that IUCN projects displace them from their traditional lands. A similar IUCN project in Ngorongoro in the 1980s forced Maasai to move out of the area to pave the way for the development of a national park. 

"[The British] moved us from Nairobi and Nakuru [in the early 1900s], but we shall fight current attempts to move us from Naimina Enkiyio," declared an angry Loita elder during a June 7 demonstration which gathered one thousand Maasai to oppose what they see as a takeover of the management of the 33,000 hectare forest in Kenya’s Narok district. According to reports sent to the Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE), violence erupted when police allegedly fired shots into the crowd of protesters and injured a number of Maasai. 

By supporting the takeover, the Narok County administration would be contradicting its October 2002 statement which granted Loita and Purko Maasai the right to conserve, protect, control, preserve, and own the Naimina Enkiyio forest. However, the future of the Naimina Enkiyio forest has been debated since 1995 when the Narok County Council tried to gazette the area for tourism. Despite legal opposition from the Loita Maasai, this case has yet to be resolved. 

IUCN regional representative Eldad Tukahirwa says the objective of the project is to reduce Maasai dependency on the forest by developing their livestock and "building their conscience on the value of the forest." Tukahirwa said the project proposal was based on "a year and a half of consultations with the community." 

But those opposed to the plan argue that consultations were inadequate. While pro-IUCN stakeholders are well-represented in the proposed management body for the forest, the Loita/Purko support groups “Loita Concerned Residents” and “Forest Morans” (young Maasai men) have been left out. They allege that the Narok County Council has supported the IUCN because of the $2.6 million earmarked for the project. 

Regarding the IUCN’s stated intent to provide technical support to a forest management team selected by the Loita/Purko community and IUCN, Vincent Ole Ntekerei, spokesman for the Forest Morans and Loita Concerned Citizens, asserts, "Naimina Enkiyio is one of the few ungazzetted forests in Kenya, solely managed by the Maasai for centuries and therefore there is nothing new we would be learning from IUCN." 

The resistance opposed by the Maasai may have rendered fruits. The permanent secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Provincial Administration, Mr Dave Mwangi, ordered the Narok DC, Mr John Egesa, to halt the project until complaints raised by the Maasai community are addressed. What would that mean remains to be seen. 

Article based on information from: “Loita and Purko Maasai resist IUCN plans for the Naimina Enkiyio Forest”, Michael Ole Tiampati, sent by Cultural Survival Weekly Indigenous News, June 25, 2004, E-mail:  news@cs.org ; “Kenya: Contentious Forest Plan Halted”, East African Standard, June 25, 2004, Forests.org, http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=33023 ; “Loita project of integrated forest conservation and management (preparatory phase)”, http://www.unesco.org/most/bpik9.htm

 

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Maasai pray for peace, prepare for the worst

By Patrick Mathangani

EAST AFRICAN STANDARD - Saturday, September 11, 2004

In what is perhaps the largest gathering of the Maasai in recent times, the community yesterday met at a sacred spot in the Rift Valley and intensified demands for a return of land they say was taken away by the colonial government. 

They gathered at the foot of Mt Longonot to hold special prayers asking for the intervention of /Enkai/, or God, for the surrender of land now in the hands of ranchers. 

At the meeting, attended by among others Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaisery, it was announced that the community was consulting lawyers to assess possibilities of a suit against the Government at the International Court of Justice. 

Members of the community from Kajiado, Narok, Trans Mara, Baringo, Samburu, Isiolo, Nakuru and Marsabit declared a union of purpose to pursue the return of the land taken by the British. 

Said Nkaiserry: "We are not inciting anybody. We are only invoking God’s name to intervene." 

Nkaisery and the Maa Civil Society Forum, which organised the prayers, accused the Government of abusing the community’s land rights. 

The forum also accused a senior politician from the community of betraying its cause by refusing to support their demands. 

Clad in their colourful /shukas/, traditional dresses, and ornaments, an estimated 2,000 morans (maasai warriors) , women and men were transported to the venue in lorries, pickups and vans. 

The spot has been used for ages by the community for prayers, sacrifice and to perform other traditional rites. It was also here that the Maasai from Kajiado and Narok camped in 1895 soon after they fought and defeated their rivals from Laikipia. 

Emotional members of the Maasai community(above and below) at yesterday’s meeting.

Kajiado Central MP Joseph ole Nkaissery at yesterday’s meeting

The community is demanding the return of over one million acres of land, which they say was illegally taken away from them by colonialists through two controversial agreements in 1904 and 1911. 

Laibon Olonana signed the agreements, which gave the British rights to use land previously occupied by the Maasai, on behalf of the community. 

But the community now says the land should revert to them following the expiry of a 100-year lease last August 15. The land is now occupied by big-time ranchers, who run game reserves and keep cattle. 

Two attempts to present a memorandum detailing their grievances to the British High Commissioner Mr Edward Clay have been thwarted by police. 

The community says their cattle have nowhere to graze as the best pasture land was taken by the colonialists. 

However, Lands Minister Amos Kimunya says no leases have expired and the Government does not recognise the agreements. 

Yesterday’s prayers were led by Rev Peter Mankura of the Dominion Chapel Church. He said according to the Bible, what had been taken away must be returned. 

Nkaisery said the Maasai were not fighting the British and the Government, but only wanted to be listened to. 

He demanded that the Government release all prisoners jailed for fighting for human rights. 

In a press statement read by Mr Ben ole Koisaba, the forum said it would follow the law in demanding the land back, but said the law should not be used to harass them. 

"We also want to make it known to fellow Kenyans that this struggle to reclaim our land does not amount to tribal clashes nor are we seeking to displace our compatriots from their legally acquired land," Koisaba said. 

The forum denied that Narok North MP William ole Ntimama had organised the meeting as claimed by Kabete MP Paul Muite.

 

Maasai: Govt is Using Brute Force

EAST AFRICAN 
Letters
Monday, September 13, 2004

RECENTLY, THE Maasai demonstrated in Nairobi and across the Rift Valley Province to demand back their land that was stolen by settlers of mainly British ancestry. 

The police suppressed, by brute force, the demonstrations. 

The NARC government has demonstrated total cruelty. Is the right to assemble, which is clearly stipulated in the Kenyan constitution, negotiable? 

NAVAYA ole NDASKOI
Kautokeino, Norway

 

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