The traditional ways of life for indigenous peoples (IP) across the African continent can range from hunting and gathering to nomadic herding to fishing; all of which require equitable access to land for survival
Struggles for IP’s land rights have heightened over recent years with continued dispossession and forced eviction of IP from their ancestral land as a result of nature conservation projects; agro-industrial development; mineral, oil, and gas explorations; and other activities which target large areas of land with diverse natural resources. The tension between IP, government, and industry over disruptions to livelihoods and human rights violations have often led to conflicts and sometimes violence.
In most African countries, there are no policies or laws that set clear benefit sharing guidelines and rules of engagement between IP, governments, and investors. This leads to inequality and exploitation. Low awareness levels among indigenous communities on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principles also limit IPs’ capacity to enter into meaningful dialogue and negotiations with external actors. In order to effectively push for land reform throughout the continent, clear advocacy strategies must be developed and implemented by IP and their partners.
ILC’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ LAND RIGHTS COMMITMENT-BASED INITIATIVE
Commitment-Based Initiatives (CBIs) are regional mechanisms through which ILC Africa members engage with each other to advance change at cross-country level, developing partnerships and common strategies on one or more of ILC’s 10 Commitments, which focus on specific themes and aspects of land governance. These initiatives involve members across countries, and complement and link to existing national platforms.
CBI 5 works to respect and protect the inherent land and territorial rights of indigenous peoples, as set out in ILC Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including by recognising that respect for indigenous knowledge and culture contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment.
Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), in collaboration with other ILC members and partners, organised the first Indigenous Peoples Conference on Land Policy in Africa, held in August 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference brought together more than 50 representatives of IP from 12 countries in Africa with the hope of strengthening IP involvement in land policy advocacy and participation in critical land reform processes. The conference affirmed the need for IP organisations to be strategic and tactful in engaging with their governments, sub-regional, and regional mechanisms on the on-going land reform agenda. In order to strengthen such engagements and benefit from joint action and shared learning, the Africa CBI 5 platform was established.
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE?
The overarching goal of this regional initiative is to improve land tenure security of IP in Africa. The initiative connects members and partners, including IP groups, with each other and policymakers to advocate for realisation of land rights for IP.
WHAT ACTIONS DO WE TAKE?
This initiative will:
- Strengthen the capacity of youth, women, and IP organizations to advocate for their land rights;
- Encourage research on land grabbing, displacement, and IP land rights in order to produce advocacy papers for engaging with relevant stakeholders at the national and regional level;
- Lobby for IP rights through dialogues and meetings with national governments and relevant stakeholders at all levels;
- Build alliances with the UN and other human rights mechanisms, especially the UN Special Rapporteur for IP in or to advance the rights of IP.
WHERE DO WE WORK?
Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania
In March 2019, an experience-sharing workshop organized in Botswana brought the Ogieks, a historically marginalized indigenous group in Kenya, to share winning strategies with peers from Central, Eastern and Western Africa. Here, the Ogiek Indigenous Peoples, who’s over a century battle to preserve their community lands ended in 2017 with the landmark victory over the government of Kenya at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, shared recommendations and best practices on how to use legal and advocacy tools to make a case for land rights.
The major stakeholders and actors advocating for IP land rights include African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), African Working Group on Indigenous Peoples (AWGIP), UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the Global Coordinating Group.
Coordinated by Ogieks People Development Programme (OPDP), other ILC members of the initiative include: Unissons nous pour la Promotion des Batwa (UNIPROPA), Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), Parakuiyo Pastoralists Indigenous Community Development Organization (PAICODEO), Programme Integre pour la Developpment du peuple Pygmee ay Kivu (PIDP), Union pour l’Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone (UEFA), Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA), Botswana Khewdom Council, Mau Community Forest Association (MACOFA), Botswana Knwedom Council (BKC), Natural Justice, Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project - Kenya, Ujamaa CoAction Communautaire des Femmes Autochtones (ACFAC), Pastoralist Forum Ethiopia (PFA), Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources, and Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Governmental Organisation’s Forum.