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Illegal and Forceful Evictions of the Sengwer Indigenous People from their Ancestral Lands in the Cherangany Hills, Kenya

By: Forest Peoples Programme

Kenya Forest Service guards (KFS) have been continuing to harass and evict Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral lands at Embobut. Meanwhile the Sengwer return when evicted, and continue to live there, now in makeshift homes.

There is now deep concern that the EU’s proposed €31 million Water Tower Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Project (WaTER) will repeat the mistakes of the World Bank’s Natural Resource Management Project (NRMP), as identified by the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel, by failing to secure the customary land rights of the Sengwer at Embobut and the Chepkitale Ogiek at Mt Elgon, and instead strengthening the KFS’s commitment and capacity to evict these peoples from their ancestral lands.

This danger was highlighted by the 1st December 2016 announcement by KFS that all Sengwer in Embobut would be evicted before the end of the year, and the situation remains very tense.

Although they have suffered annual evictions since the 1970s, the Sengwer were always able to return and rebuild their homes, and were generally left alone for the rest of the year until 2014. In January 2014 the Kenyan government sent KFS, with police support, to the Cherangany Hills to forcibly and illegally evict thousands of Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral forest lands, burning their homes and belongings, and then seeking to stop them returning.

By carrying out these evictions and burnings, KFS has been completely ignoring the orders of the courts, the Kenyan Constitution, and its international legal commitments. It is acting as though it is above the law.

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