Through a partnership with NAMATI, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP) has succeeded in documenting communal land claims of the Ogiek in readiness to securing communal land tenure rights.
The pilot exercise carried out under the Community Land Protection (CLP) involved mapping of land dwelt on by the Ogiek and developing by-laws pegged on widely accepted customary rules.
CLP blends into OPDP’s key thematic area of land and natural resources rights advocacy clearly outlined in its strategic plan (2016-20).
The project run from Nov 2015 to June 2017 with the achievements being establishment of two maps representing documented land in Sasimwani(Narok County) and Koibatek(Baringo County) together with by-laws that not only borrow from the customary rules but are also realigned with the Constitution and the Community Land Act(2016).
In recent discussions with NAMATI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vivek Maru and CLP Director Jaron Vogelsang, there was a provisional agreement of extending CLP to 12 other ancestral areas inhabited by the Ogiek.
Although both the maps and the customary rules are yet to be officially adopted by the community, it is on OPDP’s immediate plan to engage the community and experts further on this matter consequent to their approval.
OPDP and NAMATI used a mobile GPS application in taking stock of the land and mapping of Ogiek ancestral land on a pilot basis on the mentioned locations.
For more than 30 years the Ogiek, who mainly live within the Mau Forest Complex have struggled to reclaim their rights to their ancestral land having been frequent victims of State evictions.
It is in the vision of OPDP to see each one of them become a legal land owner and progress in all spheres of life.
Apart from enabling the community develop own-binding laws and maps, OPDP has made tremendous achievements towards safeguarding the community’s rights to land and natural resources.
Remarkably, it is through OPDP’s relentless efforts that the community’s land rights related suit against Kenyan government was filed and determined on May 26, 2017 at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in Arusha, Tanzania.
Ruled in favour of the community and reparation orders made to the State, the Ogiek are now waiting-in-queue legal land owners.
Daniel Kobei, OPDP’s Executive Director said the by-laws have further united the community to fights for their own land rights.
He said formation of the by-laws was preceded by sensitization of community on Kenya’s land related laws thereby widening their understanding on provided legal mechanisms of acquiring land.
“The community is more empowered when it is knowledgeable on their land tenure rights,” he said.