Following the recent article in The Ecologist by Lewis Evans of Survival International concerning a complaint to the OECD brought by Survival against the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Forest Peoples Programme has received some queries regarding our view of the situation in Cameroon (where we have a substantial programme working alongside forest indigenous peoples). FPP has limited knowledge of the specific facts of the complaint made by Survival International and cannot corroborate its contents.
Milka Chepkorir Kuto is a human rights activist and member of the Sengwer indigenous people, who live in the the Embobut and Kabolet Forest, Kenya. For the last three years, Milka has been focusing on indigenous women and their role in defending land rights. In occasion of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we have spoken to Milka about her work and the importance of including women in the struggle to retain ownership and control over their lands.
There is increasing concern from local, national and international civil society about the human rights implications of the EU’s €31 million Water Tower Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Project (WaTER) that is focused on an area of Kenya with deeply troubling human rights issues.
FPP has received disturbing reports alleging oppressive treatment of staff belonging to the civil society organisation Green Advocates by the Liberian Government, causing Green Advocates' staff and their families to fear for their personal safety and go into hiding. FPP calls on the Liberian Government and international community representatives to take urgent and credible action to guarantee the security and safety of all Green Advocates staff and their families.
Palm oil giant Golden Veroleum (GVL) has bulldozed religious sites in southeast Liberia and has paid police armed with assault rifles to protect its plantations, a new Global Witness exposé has revealed. (1)
Since the 1960s, the Sengwer peoples of western Kenya have been experiencing forced evictions from their home in the name of conservation. Since 2014, these evictions have intensified.
Communities in Liberia have spoken to palm oil sector representatives about ongoing land tenure issues and participation of peoples in future plans for their customary lands.
Sixteen representatives from across Liberia attended the 2nd Annual Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA) National Dialogue to talk about the future of both their lands and large-scale agricultural developments in the country.
Indigenous forest peoples in Cameroon have come together to form an official platform to better represent their views locally, nationally and internationally. For the first time in Cameroon, representatives from more than fifty indigenous Baka and Bagyeli communities have united to form a national organisation to represent Cameroon’s forest peoples and defend their rights at the local, national and international levels.
Guest article from Helen Tugendhat in the Bretton Woods Project Observer regarding the World Bank’s decision to grant a waiver of OP4.10 for an agricultural investment project in Tanzania.
Click here to read the article (offsite link)
The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is a global public-private partnership, designed to remove deforestation from the palm oil, beef, soya, and pulp and paper sectors. In Liberia it focuses on the palm oil sector and has previously worked with the government, private sector and civil society to produce a series of nine guiding principles designed to regulate the sector in Liberia.
After being evicted from their homes by 50 police and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers last June, more than 200 families from the indigenous Ogiek minority are now living in temporary shelters or in the open without food or blanckets to protect themselves from the cold. The news has been reported by The Guardian.The article reads:
Intimidation of land rights defenders in Tanzania must stop, says international human rights organisation Forest Peoples Programme.
Armed guards from the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) have been burning the homes of the Ogiek in order to forcibly evict them from their lands in west Kenya.
The Civil Society Working Group on Land Rights Reform in Liberia, endorsed by the national Civil Society Council of Liberia, has been involved in intense and persistent advocacy work to raise awareness around land reforms in the country, particularly to get the general public to demand the passage of the Land Rights Act (LRA).
In 2010, Cameroon and the European Union signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement on forest law enforcement, governance and trade in timber and derived products. One apparently positive element highlighted by the European Union and civil society organisations has been the inclusion of a 'transparency annex' in the document, which aimed to "make information available for public scrutiny to improve transparency and accountability".
Baka musicians have just completed an ambitious tour of southern Cameroon with support from the FPP/OKANI EU Cameroon project.
For over a decade, UK-based Global Music Exchange (GME) has been working with Orchestre Baka Gbiné, a Baka group of musicians from the rainforest of south-east Cameroon. Their 2006 release Gati Bongo is still in the iTunes World charts, and a Channel 2 documentary about them is regularly shown on Cameroon television.
Deforestation and forest degradation have increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite the government’s commitment to safeguard its forests.
Illegal logging, unsustainable mining, commercial agriculture, and urban demand for fuelwood represent only some of the major long-term threats to the forests. By contrast, the traditional livelihood strategies of indigenous and local communities show a capacity to coexist with forests sustainably.
In a letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Sengwer call [on the President] to "stop the continued arrests and evictions of our Sengwer forest indigenous peoples from our ancestral lands (our community land) in Kaptirpai, Koropkwen and Kapkok glades in Embobut forest. We want our rights to live in, govern, manage and own our ancestral lands in the glades of Embobut forest recognized, secured, respected and protected in law, working hand in hand with state agencies to ensure effective and efficient conservation and protection of forests, water, wildlife and other natural resources therein".
Of the indigenous hunter gatherer peoples of Cameroon (the peoples who self-identify as ‘autochthonous’), the Baka are the largest group, numbering about 40,000 and living in an area of 75,000 km2 in the south-west of the country; the Bagyeli/Bokola are the second-largest group with approximately 3,700 people living near the coast in an area of about 12,000 km2; and the third-largest group are the Bedzang who live in the forests north-west of Mbam (Ngambe-Tikar), in the Central Region.
This review is the result of several years of fieldwork by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), and is the first step of a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) funded project that examines putting into practice in Liberia the FAO Technical Guide entitled ‘Respecting free, prior and informed consent, Practical guidance for governments, companies, NGOs, indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to land acquisition’.