News & Announcements

FPP E-News

The Forest Peoples Programme FFP [Marcus Colchester, Director and member of the Dana Declaration Standing Committee] maintains an e-newsletter with relevant announcements regarding indigenous peoples land rights, the Convention on Biodiversity, and other matters of considerable interest to the Dana Declaration Standing Committee.


Forced Displacement of Indigenous Pastoral Communities in Ethiopia
Human Rights Watch

(Nairobi) June 18, 2012 – The Ethiopian government is forcibly displacing indigenous pastoral communities in Ethiopia's Lower Omo valley without adequate consultation or compensation to make way for state-run sugar plantations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report contains previously unpublished government maps that show the extensive developments planned for the Omo valley, including irrigation canals, sugar processing factories, and 100,000 hectares of other commercial agriculture.

The 73-page report, " 'What Will Happen if Hunger Comes?': Abuses against the Indigenous Peoples of Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley,"documents how government security forces are forcing communities to relocate from their traditional lands through violence and intimidation, threatening their entire way of life with no compensation or choice of alternative livelihoods. Government officials have carried out arbitrary arrests and detentions, beatings, and other violence against residents of the Lower Omo valley who questioned or resisted the development plans.

"Ethiopia's ambitious plans for the Omo valley appear to ignore the rights of the people who live there," said Ben Rawlence, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "There is no shortcut to development; the people who havelong relied on that land for their livelihood need to have their property rights respected, including on consultation and compensation."

The Lower Omo valley, one of the most remote and culturally diverse areas on the planet, is home to around 200,000 people from eight unique agro-pastoral communities who have lived there for as long as anyone can remember. Their way of life and their identity is linked to the land and access to the Omo River. The Omo valley is in Ethiopia's Southern Peoples, Nations, and Nationalities Region (SNNPR), near the border with Kenya, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.

The significant changes planned for the Omo valley are linked to the construction of Africa's highest dam, the controversial Gibe III hydropower project, along the Omo River. Downstream, the sugar plantations will depend on irrigation canals. Although there have been some independent assessments of the Gibe dam project, to date, the Ethiopian government has not published any environmental or social impact assessments for the sugar plantations and other commercial agricultural developments in the Omo valley.

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 35 residents in June 2011, along with 10 donor officials and at least 30 other witnesses since that time. At the time of Human Rights Watch's visit, military units regularly visited villages to intimidate residents and suppress dissent related to the sugar plantation development. Soldiers regularly stole or killed cattle.

"What am I going to eat?" a man of the Mursi ethnic group told Human Rights Watch. "They said to take all my cattle and to sell them and to only tie one up at my house. What can I do with only one? I am a Mursi. If hunger comes I shoot a cow's neck and drink blood. If we sell them all for money how will we eat?"

The evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch since its visit demonstrates that in the past year regional officials and security forces have forcibly seized land from indigenous communities living and farming within the areas slated for sugar production. Reports of forced displacement and the clearing of agricultural land have gathered pace.

Access to the Omo River is critical for the food security and way of life of the pastoralists who live in the valley. Several community representatives said that state officials had told them, without any other discussion, that the communities would need to reduce the number of their cattle and resettle in one place, and that they would lose access to the Omo River.

As of June 2012, irrigation canals have been dug, land has been cleared, and sugar production has begun along the east bank of the river. Government maps photographed by Human Rights Watch indicate that the area where sugar cultivation is under way is a fraction of what is labeled as "Sugar Block One." Two additional "blocks" of land that will be taken for sugar cultivation are to follow. Ethiopia's existing assessments of the impact of the Gibe dam do not include the impact of sugar cultivation and irrigation on the flow of the Omo River, or the downstream impact on Lake Turkana. The massive network of irrigation canals indicated on the maps suggests that the previous assessments are insufficient.

The full implementation of the plan could affect at least 200,000 people in the Omo valley and another 300,000 Kenyans living across the border around Lake Turkana, which derives up to 90 percent of its water from the Omo River. Human Rights Watch said Kenya should press for new environmental and social impact assessments that examine the cumulative impact of the Gibe III dam and the irrigated commercial agriculture scheme.

These developments – which threaten the economic, social, and cultural rights of the Omo valley's indigenous inhabitants – are being carried out in contravention of domestic and international human rights standards, which call for the recognition of property rights, with meaningful consultation, consent, and compensation for loss of land, livelihoods, and food security, and which state that displacement, especially of indigenous peoples from their historic homelands, must be treated as an absolute last resort.

The rights of indigenous peoples are addressed by Ethiopia's own laws and constitution, as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and regional human rights treaties and mechanisms such as the African human rights charter as interpreted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. Under these laws and agreements, indigenous peoples have property rights over the land they have historically occupied that must be recognized by the state, and they can only be displaced with their free, prior, and informed consent. Even when such consent is given, they must also be fully compensated for any loss of land, property, or livelihood.

In fact, Ethiopia has not recognized any rights over the land of the indigenous communities of the area, including tenure security, Human Rights Watch found. Neither has it taken steps to adequately consult with, let alone seek the consent of, the indigenous peoples of the Omo valley, in particular taking into account the scant formal education of most of the population.

The Ethiopian government has responded to concerns raised by Human Rights Watch by noting that the plantations will bring benefits to the indigenous populations in the form of employment. Employment may be a welcome benefit for affected communities. But the prospect of some jobs does not remove the urgent need for the government to suspend plantation development until rigorous assessments have been carried out, the rights of the indigenous communities over their land has been recognized and consent sought, and any displacement or acquisition of land is shown to be strictly necessary, proportionate, and compensation provided, Human Rights Watch said.

Many international nongovernmental organizations have raised concerns about potential social and environmental impacts of the Gibe III hydropower project and have criticized the Ethiopian government for a lack of transparency and independent assessment. The Ethiopian government withdrew its request of the World Bank and African Development Bank for financing of the Gibe dam project but has not publicized its reasons for doing so. UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has recommended suspending the project pending further independent evaluation of the effect on Lake Turkana.

The Ethiopian government relies on international aid for a significant percentage of its budget. Security forces and officials from the regional and district administrations are implementing the plans for the sugar plantations and telling local residents they must move, without any consultation or recognition of their rights. A multi-donor funded program called Protection of Basic Services (PBS) provides hundreds of millions of dollars to support health, education, and other sectors and funds the salaries of district government officials across Ethiopia, including SNNPR region. The main donors to PBS are the World Bank, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Human Rights Watch called on the Ethiopian government to suspend the construction of Gibe III and the associated sugar plantations until these developments can be carried out in a manner consistent with national laws and international human rights standards. The Ethiopian government should recognize the rights of the Omo valley's indigenous communities over their historic homelands and engage in meaningful discussion with them over the future use of their land and compensation on that basis, prior to further industrial development in South Omo. Donors should ensure their funding is not supporting forced displacement or unlawful expropriation of indigenous lands, Human Rights Watch said.

"Ethiopia's desire to accelerate economic development is laudable, but recent events in the Omo valley are taking an unacceptable toll on the rights and livelihoods of indigenous communities," Rawlence said. "The government should suspend the process until it meets basic standards, and donors should make sure their aid is not facilitating abuses."

Selected Accounts from "What Will Happen if Hunger Comes"
"People disagree with the government on the sugar, but are afraid of the possible use of force to resettle people and so do not say much. big fear of government here. If you express concern, you go to jail."
– Bodi man, June 2011.

"There will be a problem during the dry season. Now there is water, but when there isn't if we do not go back to Omo we will need government to bring water. If they do not, and our cattle will die. We will go to Omo anyway, if not, we will die, they can kill us there if they want."
– Mursi villager, June 2011.

"What am I going to eat? They said to take all my cattle and to sell them and to only tie one up at my house. What can I do with only one? I am a Mursi. If hunger comes I shoot a cow's neck and drink blood. If we sell them all for money how will we eat? When we get married we marry with cattle. What will we marry with? What will we eat? When hunger comes what will we feed our children with? If we just keep chickens will we eat soup or milk them…? 'This land is my land,' say the highland Ethiopians. 'Run to the forest like a baboon.'"
– Mursi man describing the importance of cattle, December 2011.

"They cleared out their gardens. They cleared far and dug up their sorghum. The sorghum was near ripening; a truck plowed it and cast it away. The Kwegu gardens were plowed and some Kwegu are now without anything. If their sorghum is plowed what are they going to eat? What will they give to their kids?"
– Man describing what happened to Bodi and Kwegu farmland that was cleared in December 2011.

"There will be big problems in the areas if all the cattle are given to the government. What will these people eat, now the drought is really badly affecting the Horn of Africa? Now the dam has been built, no water in the river, land has been taken away, the cattle given to the government, what will happen to the poor people in time of the famine? Those people who want to wipe out the pastoralists eat three times a day. What will happen if hunger comes?"

Human Rights Watch Press release

– Mursi man, May 2011.


China Plans to End Nomadic Life
Radio Free Asia


A U.S.-based rights group has hit out at plans by the Chinese government to force three ethnic minority groups to abandon the last traces of their nomadic lifestyles in the next three years.

"The Chinese Government continues to aggressively pursue and expand its national project for displacing nomadic herders off their traditional lands and resettling them in agricultural and urban areas," the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

Citing a statement posted on the official website of China's central government, the group said it marked "a major and seemingly final step toward eliminating the remaining population of nomad herders and eradicating the thousands of years-old nomadic way of life in China."

SMHRIC, which campaigns for the rights of ethnic Mongols in China's Inner Mongolia region, said the resettlement policies would affect nomadic herders in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet.

It said the statement confirmed Beijing's determination "to permanently end the nomadic way of life of these regions."

"The Party Central Committee and the State Council have especially emphasized the socio-economic development of pastoral areas, bringing a remarkable improvement to the herders' living conditions and mode of production, causing the majority of herders to be resettled in static locations," the government announcement said.

It said China's 12th Five-Year Plan aims to resettle the remaining nomad population of 1.157 million people by 2015.

Broken commitments

SMHRIC said these policies violate China's obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

According to the Declaration, "indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories."

Experts say that deep-seated cultural ties to the grasslands and traditional nomadic ways of life lay behind a wave of protests that swept across Inner Mongolia in May 2011.

Chinese authorities poured armed police and security forces into Inner Mongolia to contain protests sparked by the death of a herdsman from the Shiliin-Gol (in Chinese, Xilin Meng) region who was run over during clashes with mine company trucks.

Thousands of students were locked in campuses at major schools, colleges, and universities in the regional capital, Hohhot, following demonstrations by hundreds of ethnic minority Mongolians across the region.

Mongolian commentators said the protests reflect a deep and widespread anger over continuing exploitation of the region's grasslands, the heartland of Mongol culture

Environmental destruction

Environmentalists point to large-scale environmental destruction in Inner Mongolian regions where mining is taking place, as well as to more subtle ecological pressures in other areas.

Open-cast, or strip, mining is one of the most environmentally destructive forms of mining, destroying the surface ecosystem over a wide area and releasing pollutants into the air.

Ethnic Mongolians, who make up almost 20 percent of Inner Mongolia's 23 million population, complain of destruction and unfair development policies in the region, which is China's largest producer of coal. The overwhelming majority of the residents are Han Chinese.

Ninety percent of China's 400 million hectares (988 million acres) of grassland now show some degree of environmental degradation, according to official figures, and the government has pointed to over-grazing by nomads as a key contributing factor.

Last year, Beijing rolled out a slew of tax breaks and funding for enterprises in rural areas that implement environmentally friendly programs and technological innovations in the field.

But SMHRIC and other overseas campaigners have said that Chinese authorities and companies are continuing to exploit the grassland in spite of slogans like "grassland protection" and "economic growth."

Reported by Luisetta Mudie.

Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.



Indigenous peoples insist on rights-based approaches and respect for traditional knowledge and practices in Rio+20 outcomes

Rio de Janeiro, 20 June 2012: As government representatives start formal negotiations in Brazil to seek agreements on so-called 'green economy' policies and to assess progress in fulfilling commitments on environment and development made at the Rio Earth Summit twenty years ago, indigenous peoples from all over the world have come together at the Rio+20 global summit to put forward their own solutions for sustainable development and to flag serious risks associated with government 'green' proposals. Jean La Rose of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), Guyana, said:

"Governments, international agencies like the World Bank and NGOs are pushing for new low carbon development policies in countries like Guyana. Official information on these initiatives does not match our experience. Our communities have not been properly consulted so far and there are no secure safeguards for our land and territorial rights and right to free, prior and informed consent. At the same time, plans for mega dams, roads and continued logging and mining operations in our forests are being developed in the name of 'green growth', which risks generating multiple harmful impacts on our peoples."

Indigenous leaders are also present at the negotiations to highlight the historical and present contributions of indigenous peoples' cultures, traditional knowledge and practices in sustaining the world's most fragile ecosystems. They are also raising concerns that despite protection under international treaties and agreements, in many countries traditional livelihoods and practices remain under threat from outdated environmental policies as well as from new REDD+, PES and protected area initiatives that seek to restrict or criminalise customary use of land and natural resources. Peter Kitelo of the Ogiek people in Western Kenya said:

"Government policies at the international and country levels do not recognise the need for legal and land tenure reforms, which are desperately needed in order to recognise the rights of indigenous peoples. In Kenya there is now a lot of talk among government agencies about sustainable development and community forest management, yet the government is seeking to sell concessions for plantation development and REDD+ projects on our lands without our free, prior and informed consent..."

Leaders also express grave concerns over increasing threats to their lands and livelihoods stemming from land grabbers and the growing global demand for food, fibres, fuel, minerals, hydrocarbons and other resources. Robert Guimaraes Vasquez of the Shipibo people in the Peruvian Amazon said:

"While governments are coming to Rio to talk about sustainable development, in my country, Peru, the pressure is growing day by day from policies of the national government that seek to open up our remote forest territories to transnational companies through road infrastructure projects. These mega projects pose severe threats to indigenous peoples and in particular those autonomous groups in voluntary isolation. How can this be sustainable? We all know it is not just. Yet governments spin this destructive form of development around and call it poverty reduction and investment for national development..."

Indigenous peoples' organisations and activists are calling on governments to fully implement their commitments to uphold human rights, including rights to lands and resources as an essential cornerstone for achieving socially just and ecologically sustainable development. They also call on States to fully recognise the importance of cultural diversity and local economies in maintaining ecosystem integrity and sustainable livelihoods. Onel Masardule of the Kuna people and Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Knowledge of Panama said:

"Governments in most countries have already signed up to human rights agreements and environmental treaties and have endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are here in Rio once again to demand that States fulfil their obligations and commitments in all development policies, finance and actions and put proper arrangements in place at the national level to implement these agreements. Our rights must be secured so that our lands and territories are maintained for the benefit of our future generations and the whole of humanity."


Dana +10 logos

Dana + 10 Workshop April 10-14, 2012


Mobile indigenous peoples (e.g. pastoralists, hunter-gatherers, some swidden agriculturalists) have sustainably managed the land they live on for centuries. However, in the name of biodiversity conservation, some have been displaced, dispossessed and expelled from their traditional territories and left destitute and culturally impoverished. While these practices have been largely discarded in rhetoric by biodiversity conservation agencies, progress in human rights observance and land restitution has lagged behind new thinking on the relationship between people and protected areas. Thus, local and national policy and institutional change in the field have not kept pace with advances in thinking at the international level; nor do they always live up to public declarations of concern for human rights.

The Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford Department of International Development (QEH), University of Oxford, has worked with other bodies to address the concerns regarding the welfare of mobile indigenous peoples in biodiversity conservation. A key product was the Dana Declaration on Conservation and Mobile Peoples in 2002, with guidelines for a complementary strategy for both protected areas and meeting human needs (see annex).

Ten years after the Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation was agreed in Wadi Dana, Jordan, it is time to follow up on the achievements of the past decade and consider the future.  Working with the representatives of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples –WAMIP and others similar groups,  the Dana + 10 workshop  will, among other outputs, develop a statement to be delivered at the Rio+20 meetings in June 2012 to continue to  promote the  human rights of mobile indigenous people in the context of biodiversity conservation and  democratic environmental governance in the face of continuing  expansion of protected areas, land grabbing, and further dispossession. The workshop ultimately aims to continue to raise and maintain awareness of the special vulnerabilities and needs of mobile indigenous peoples.

The Matching Game: More on Protected Area Effectiveness
By Sven Wunder
Principal Scientist, Center for International Forestry Research

August‘s POLEX message focused on a metastudy by Porter-Bolland /et al/., showing how most peer-reviewed case studies have found community-managed forests to disappear less rapidly than strictly protected forests. By its very nature, a metasample is heterogeneous in time and space, and areas are not selected randomly by their case study authors. Alternatively, could one compare the fate of each protected forest with that of a similar matched forest without protection status?

*For a copy of the study by Andrew Nelson and Kenneth M. Chomitz, ’Effectiveness of strict vs. multiple use protected areas in reducing tropical forest fires: a global analysis using matching methods‘ appearing in PLOS One 6(8), visit doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0022722.

This is the approach taken in a new study by Andrew Nelson from the International Rice Research Institute and Ken Chomitz from the World Bank‘s Independent Evaluation Group. Lacking globally comparable deforestation data, the authors instead used forest fire incidence as a pantropical proxy of forest threats: In most regions, deforestation involves fire use. They looked at high-resolution SPOT and MODIS satellite data, defining pixels with at least 25% tree cover as forest, and examined fire occurrence in the entire tropical biome of developing countries; 27% of the target area of almost 20 million km^2 had some protection status.

In all three tropical continents, fire incidence from 2000 to 2008 was lower in protected areas than in unprotected ones. For instance, in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) fire had occurred on 7.4% of unprotected land. In strictly protected areas (IUCN categories I-IV), it was only 1.6%, four and a half times less. In multiple-use protected areas (IUCN categories V-VI), fire rates were 3%, and in indigenous protected areas 1.5%. Similar proportions were observed for Africa; in Asia fire rates in strictly protected areas were somewhat higher (4.5%).

However, protected areas are typically located in more remote sites with less conversion pressures. Comparing their record directly with high-threat areas would thus ’make them look too good‘, compared to what counterfactually would have happened to these forests without protection status. Matching can potentially correct this bias. Each protected pixel was compared to some non-protected ones with similar distance to roads and major cities, elevation, slope, and rainfall. The assumption was that deforestation pressures would be similar when these background variables were controlled for, thus isolating the true impact of the protection status.

The matched results show that protection still increases conservation effectiveness. Strictly protected areas still do between 2.0 (Asia) and 4.3 (LAC) percentage points better than their unprotected pairs. That‘s less than in the crude, unmatched comparisons, though. Multi-use areas at least preserve their unmatched protection premium (e.g. 6.4 points in LAC). However, indigenous areas (only present in LAC) apparently include many high-threat zones, and thus increase their advantage over matching unprotected lands to a smashing 13 percentage points.

What do the results mean for researchers? Applying matching methods is technically challenging. Selecting control variables can be controversial, especially in social sciences where theories are more complex. As we all know, finding the perfect match is not easy. Yet the notable differences between matched and unmatched results – and vis-à-vis literature reviews – underline just how important it can be to control for many potential sampling biases, in a world that progressively differentiates.

What does this mean for policymakers? While protected areas are facing some headwinds in the current debates, they are consistently doing a better job than unprotected ones in avoiding fires, and thus carbon and biodiversity losses – independent of continent, protection category and evaluation method. Notably, multi-use and especially indigenous lands do even better than strictly protected lands, especially after matching (reinforcing a conclusion by Porter-Bolland /et al/.). So far, both categories are much more prominent in the Neotropics. This might also indicate a scope for diversifying protection strategies in Africa and Asia toward more ’parks with people‘, at least where local people‘s low land-use expansion favours this approach.


POLEX is an initiative of the Center for International Forestry Research to keep opinion leaders, policymakers and researchers up to date on path-breaking research on forests.

POLEX was first launched in 1997. It is sent each month to about 22,000 stakeholders in the forestry sector worldwide. It is translated into French, Spanish, Indonesian and Japanese. Each message includes a concise highlight of a timely and important research report.

Although CIFOR manages the list, the content of the messages reflects only the views of the authors of the original research and the author of the message. They do not necessarily reflect official views of CIFOR as an institution.

We are very interested in your feedback regarding POLEX and your suggestions for interesting reports we might promote through the list. Please send them to

*Center for International Forestry Research

CIFOR advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation, and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing countries. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CIFOR's headquarters are in Bogor, Indonesia. It also has offices in Asia, Africa and South America.

Visit CIFOR's website:

Visit CIFOR's Forests Blog:

Biocultural Diversity Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

The Companion document to IUCN/CEESP Briefing Note No.1 can be found here [pdf]

What the Sami people can teach us about adapting to climate change

As global warming and habitat degradation accelerates, people indigenous to the Arctic circle say they have much to teach the world about how to adapt, survive, and thrive

Full article at

Kenya: Landmark Ruling on Indigenous Land Rights

African Human Rights Commission Condemns Expulsion of Endorois People for Tourism Development

(New York, February 4, 2010) - A ruling by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights condemning the expulsion of the Endorois people from their land in Kenya is a major victory for indigenous peoples across Africa, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, and the Endorois' lawyers said today. The Commission ruled on February 4, 2010 that the Endorois' eviction from their traditional land for tourism development violated their human rights.

The Kenyan government evicted the Endorois people, a traditional pastoralist community, from their homes at Lake Bogoria in central Kenya in the 1970s, to make way for a national reserve and tourist facilities. In the first ruling of an international tribunal to find a violation of the right to development, the Commission found that this eviction, with minimal compensation, violated the Endorois' right as an indigenous people to property, health, culture, religion, and natural resources. It ordered Kenya to restore the Endorois to their historic land and to compensate them. It is the first ruling to determine who are indigenous peoples in Africa, and what are their rights to land. The case was brought on behalf of the Endorois by CEMIRIDE and Minority Rights Group International.

"The Endorois decision, the first of its kind, can help many others across Africa who have been forced from their homes," said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch, who was co-counsel for the Endorois in the case while employed with Minority Rights Group International. "The African Commission is clear: the land where the Endorois historically lived is their property and must be returned to them."

Lake Bogoria is considered to have great tourism potential due to its hot springs and abundant wildlife, including one of Africa's largest populations of flamingos. The African Commission accepted the Endorois' evidence that they have lived there since "time immemorial" and the lake was the center of their religion and culture, with their ancestors buried nearby. After being evicted from the fertile land around the lake, the Endorois were forced to congregate on arid land, where many of their cattle died.

They tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Kenyan government, the local authorities, and the Kenyan Wildlife Service to reverse their policy of evicting everyone, including traditional inhabitants, from areas the government designated national parks and reserves. They were also rebuffed when they sought an adequate share of the tourism and revenues generated by the reserve. After Kenyan courts refused to address their case, they brought their case to the African Commission in 2003. As a component of the case, WITNESS and CEMIRIDE collaborated on a landmark use of video as evidence, demonstrating how conditions on the ground breached articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and bringing voices of the Endorois to the Commission.

Violations of land rights, including the rights of the generations of Kenyans displaced through historic and recent evictions, are one of the key unresolved issues in Kenya, which former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged in the aftermath of Kenya's electoral violence in 2007-2008. The African Commission found that the Kenyan government has continued to rely on a colonial law that prevented certain communities from holding land outright, and allowed others, such as local authorities, effectively to own their traditional land on "trust" for these Communities. The local authority in Lake Bogoria was able to end the Endorois trust at will and to seize the land.

In the last decade there have been several attempts at comprehensive land reform that would allow for final and fair determination of land ownership and create a system to restore land to those unlawfully evicted or to compensate them. None of these reforms has been completed.. While the adoption by the government of a new land policy in August 2009 marks a significant step forward, it still needs to be translated into effective protection on the ground for Kenya's most marginalized.

"This ruling is good for every Kenyan," said Korir Singo'ei, who represented the Endorois while director of CEMIRIDE. "The law that treats some communities as children, unable to own their own land, is a colonial relic that needs to be changed."

The African Commission determined that the Endorois, having a clear historic attachment to particular land, are a distinct indigenous people, a term contested by some African governments who claimed all Africans are indigenous. It also found that the Endorois had property rights over the land they traditionally occupied and used, even though the British and Kenyan authorities had denied them a formal title. In finding a violation of the right to development for the first time the Commission relied on the failure of the Kenyan authorities to respect the right of the Endorois to consent to development, and the failure to provide them adequate compensation for the loss they had suffered, or any benefit from the tourism.

The African Commission had ruled in 2006 against the Kenyan government for allowing a ruby mining company to start illegal mining on another part of the Endorois' land, severely affecting their remaining access to water. Following that ruling, the mining company abandoned its activities.

"The African Commission's ruling makes clear to governments that they must treat indigenous peoples as active stakeholders rather than passive beneficiaries," said Cynthia Morel, who was co-counsel for the Endorois as senior legal adviser with Minority Rights Groups International. "That recognition is a victory for all indigenous peoples across Africa whose existence was largely ignored - both in law and in fact - until today. The ruling spells the beginning of a brighter future."

The Commission requires Kenya to take steps to return the Endorois land and compensate them within three months. Comprehensive reform to bring Kenya's land laws to the standards set by the Commission is vital before the 2012 elections, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, and the Endorois' lawyers said.

For more on Human Rights Watch's work on Kenya, please visit:

For more on MRG's work on the Endorois, please visit:

To see the video evidence presented to the court and the film about the Endorois and the case produced by CEMIRIDE and WITNESS, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

In New York, Clive Baldwin (English, French): +1-917-880-8756
In Nairobi, Korir Singo'ei (English, Swahili): +254-722-776994
In London, Cynthia Morel (English, French): +44-79-527-19484

In New York, Bukeni Waruzi (Swahili, English, and French) : +1-718-783-2000, ext. 307 (For WITNESS)

-- Dr Nigel Crawhall
Director of Secretariat
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee
Comité de coordination des Peuples Autochtones de l'Afrique

Land Restition Programme for the Khomani San

Under South Africa's land restitution programme, the Khomani San had land in the Kglagadi Transfrontier Park returned to them in 1999. It took many years for actual access to the land to be obtained for the majority of the community, but that has now been achieved. In terms of the settlement agreement, the Khomani San have the right to conduct cultural and symbolic activities, both on their land and in a further vast area in the park, which includes traditional hunting and plant harvesting. In 2007/8 a set of resource use protocols were developed by the San and finally accepted by all parties including South African National Parks (SANParks), the conservation management agent.

An M&E system then needed to be established and it was decided that cybertrackers would be suitable tools for this purpose. Initial training took place in 2008, attended by a small group of San trackers and guides. In 2009, mapping of plant populations in the park and on land belonging to the San outside of the park commenced. Each team consists of a traditional doctor with a wealth of plant knowledge, and a younger tracker or cyber-ranger as they are referred to - this to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from elders to youth. All data is then downloaded into the GIS system on one of the computers in the San's office, where it can be further mapped and analysed for management purposes. The Khomani San's park committee are in charge of issuing their own permits for traditional hunting and plant harvesting to community members, and for recording all offtakes.

The beauty of the above is that the M&E initiative is community led and actively facilitating knowlege transfer between generations. The Khomani San are also in the process of establishing a Traditional Conservation Area adjacent to the park that will be managed and utilised in a customary manner, and of course the cybertrackers are also useful in respect of infrastructure management. SANParks have kindly donated game for the restocking of this area. The intention is also to rehabilitate the Traditional Conservation Area and other degraded land outside of the park and monitor the progress made with the reintroduction of medicinal plants in particular.

A further activity that will commence this year is the mapping of the cultural landscape, again using the cybertrackers to locate points and then recording the stories, history and past movements of elders.

For more information contact: Philippa Holden

Mobile Indigenous Peoples Participation at the 7th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

21 April - 2 May, 2008, New York

Announcement / Press Release

The Standing Committee of the Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation and the Secretariat of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples-WAMIP are pleased to announce that they are organising the representation of mobile peoples at the Seventh United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues-UNPFII-in New York between April 21 and May 2nd. Fourteen representatives from WAMIP and other mobile peoples from Africa, the Middle East, India, Central Asia, and the Americas will be attending a special UNPFII side event on April 28th to discuss the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the sustainable livelihoods of mobile indigenous communities around the world. This event is a significant step in furthering the profile of both WAMIP and the Dana Declaration internationally and regionally in supporting the special vulnerabilities and needs of mobile peoples both in the context of the international indigenous peoples movement as well as in national and regional fora.

Segovia Declaration
From 8 to15 September 2007 nearly 200 representatives and delagates of pastoralists and some professionals met in La Granja, Segovia, Spain, to debate the problems faced by nomadic and transhumant herders around the world. They have developed a vision and strategy to improve the conditions of life of the pastoralists and to promote the sustainable use of their natural resources.

A group of the attended pastoralists was delagated to delivered a “ Message” to the delegates to the Eighth Session of the Convention of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification that was taking place in Madrid (3 - 14 Sept.).

Based on their analysys of problems and on previous international experience and contributions the World Gathering of Nomadic and Transhumant Pastoralists has developed and approved the “Segovia Declaration of Nomadic and Transhumant Pastoralists ”, also adopted by the First Congress of WAMIP (World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples) organised in La Granja immidiately after the Gathering (15 – 18 September, 2007). WAMIP Congress built on the strategy delevoped by the Gathering, adopted its Statutes and nominated its new Board and officials.

The World Gathering of Nomadic and Transhumant Pastoralists was mainly sponsored by the Spanish government and some international organisations, with the full involvement of various international and Spanish associations of pastoral.

Mursi Update
This is an update on the current situation of the Mursi and the, at least, six other Ethnic groups, the Suri, Dizi, Me'en, Kwegu, Bodi and Nyangatom affected by the Omo National Park, Ethiopia. I spent three months with the Mursi, until May of this year.

African Parks Foundation (APF) says that the east bank of the Omo River will be left alone and the boundaries of the park follow the water's edge along the west bank of the Omo River, leaving all of the water of the Omo within the park. APF says it will not interfere with the current agriculture on the west bank, but will not allow any new riverbank areas to be cleared.

To ban the clearing of 'new' areas for riverbank cultivation is to misunderstand the nature of flood retreat agriculture. After an extensive flood, for example, 'new' areas will be cleared that have not been used for several years. But as flood retreat cultivation has been practiced along the Omo for at least 5000 years, it is hard to call any of the area 'new'. If they are talking about shifting, rain-fed cultivation on the other hand, further back from the riverbank, a 'no tree-felling' policy, would make shifting cultivation impossible as the basis of it is that you move on to new areas after a few years.

(See map:
This map has a few inaccuracies, Mursi territory extends much farther into the Park.)

APF has said that grazing by the Mursi will not be a problem. There will, however, be no hunting within what the park is calling its boundaries. The Mursi rely on hunting as a food reserve, especially in times of hunger. The Mursi women also primarily wear clothing made from animal skins, as these last up to seven years. APF said it was not interested in providing some form of food assistance to compensate for this Mursi loss of food.

The biggest concern is that all of this is just talk. On paper, the government and APF have all the legal rights to the land and the communities have none. The communities need legally established rights to their land.

APF is also claiming the Mursi 'gave' them all of Mursi land west of the Omo River, at a meeting held at Makki September, 2006. The Mursi say that at that meeting they 'gave' them only Gaegol, an area within a five km radius around the Omo Park headquarters. APF says it has this meeting on audio tape and it is legally binding under Ethiopian law, because the elders verbally agreed to it. The Mursi are furious that APF should manipulate the meeting recording this way and met
with APF in April to tell them this. APF is obtaining its own translation of the tapes, not going through the Mursi who speak English. Also the papers that the Mursi were coerced into signing, to establish the Omo National Park gazettement have not appeared for scrutiny, despite several requests. The gazettement of the park is going forward on these falsely obtained documents.

I have limited information on the status of the other Ethnic groups. In general, their plight seems to be worse, as they do not have advocates (except the Nyangatom).

The Nyangatom have recently made an agreement with APF to limit their grazing in the Omo Park.

One interesting note is, APF said in its November 2006 monthly report that it found more than 150 Suri and Dizi "illegally" mining gold within the park. This is indigenous people mining gold on their land. The Suri have been there for about 350 years.

GTZ has recently made a grant to APF of $200,000 Euro for assessing the conflicts between the communities and the park and how communities are using resources in the park.

Will Hurd
Native Solutions to Conservation Refugees

Mobile Peoples Participation at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
May 15 -26, 2006


The United Nations Secretariat for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues invited the Standing Committee of the Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation (Dana Standing Committee) in partnership with the Coordinating Committee of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP) to organize a side-event at the Fifth United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), 15-26 May 2006 in New York. This invitation was made in order to raise awareness of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of mobile peoples within the larger Indigenous Peoples Movement. 17 representatives of mobile peoples from Africa, the Middle East and Asia took part in the UN Permanent Forum meetings. Click here for more information.

Report on Capacity Building Workshop for Mobile Indigenous Peoples at the 5th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Tuesday May 23rd, 2006

Summary on Mobile Peoples Participation at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues May 15 -26, 2006

Mobility, Livelihoods, Conservation and Environmental Impacts on Mobile Peoples Side Event, Monday May 22 2006

Handbook on Participatory Video (PV)

Insights into Participatory Video: a handbook for the field, written by PV facilitators Nick and Chris Lunch of Insight, has just appeared. This 125-page booklet is a practical guide to setting up and running PV projects. It draws on experience in PV in several countries including Central Asia, the Himalayan region and UK. Helpful tips for the facilitator clarify how to use video to encourage a lively, democratic process. Descriptions of games and exercises to introduce PV and case studies are illustrated with cartoons and photographs. A selection of video films made by local people and a training film are included in the accompanying CD-ROM.

The preparation and publication of this book and CD-ROM were supported by the UNDP Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Fund (GEF),Prolinnova, Compas and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex in the UK. The booklet and CD-ROM can be obtained for GBP £12 (inc P&P) from Nick Lunch, Insight UK Office, 3 Maidcroft Road, Oxford OX4 3EN

Go to for more information and free PDF downloadable version. If you would like a review copy free of charge for a journal, contact the authors directly.

Insight hold introductory & in-depth courses in PV facilitation. The next 5 day introductory course takes place in Oxford, UKfrom June 19th- 23rd, contact: For more information on Insight's work in PV and to see on-line videos see their website

We are pleased to the announce the establishment of an international 'learning group' on poverty conservation linkages.
This is an initiative which was launched in November 2004 and supported by the Ford Foundation. IIED has been working with a range of organisations: to scope out the need and demand for such a Group; to identify potential members' to explore alternative models and structures for the Group; to investigate its potential research; learning and communications activities; to document the development of the conservation-poverty debate over time; to map the ongoing initiatives of existing institutions and networks and to conduct preliminary reviews of on the ground experiences in conservation and poverty reduction. A Poverty and Conservation Learning Group will be meeting shortly in Cambridge. The outcome of that meeting will be posted on the IIED website. Please click here for the background papers: 1) The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group: Proposed Structure and Activities. 2) Poverty-Conservation Linkages: A Conceptual Framework .

Botswana: First Court Victory for a Bushman Family
First victory for the bushpeople! see: -

Botswana: Court Victory for one Bushman Family
1 November 2005

The Botswana High Court ruled on Friday 28 October that the government must allow Bushman Amogolang Segootsane and his family to return to their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It must also return
his goats to him and allow him to bring water into the reserve.

Segootsane brought his case after he was prevented from going back to his home in the reserve. The government closed the reserve in September and removed all the Bushmen's goats, claiming they were
diseased. An international panel of vets dismissed this reason as 'spurious'.

Dozens of Bushmen have been evicted from the reserve at gunpoint in recent weeks. Three Bushmen, including a seven-year old boy, have been shot and wounded. All the Bushmen involved in the Bushman organisation
First People of the Kalahari were arrested and beaten when they tried to enter the reserve last month.

Tshatlha Ntwayamogala, who was evicted from the reserve this month, told the Telegraph newspaper, "They told us, 'when you leave this place, you leave as volunteers.' So we said 'if we are volunteers, we don't want to go.' They began threatening us. They told us, if we stay behind, they will end up killing us. One of the police said 'if you don't move, you will all be killed'."

Survival's director Stephen Corry said of Friday's court victory, 'This is great news. We're very pleased that the rights of the Segootsane family have been upheld by the court, although it remains to be seen whether the government will abide by the court's ruling. Now the government surely must also allow all the other evicted Bushmen to return home.'

Survival International Press Release
For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email To read this press release online visit see also

'The Takeover of Ethiopia's Omo National Park'
Read the report on the planned takeover of Ethiopia's Omo National Park by African Parks Foundation (APF) of the Netherlands. For further information please visit the IUCN CEESP website.

Global Pastoralists Gathering is hosted by the Hammar people of Turmi, South Omo, Ethiopia
29 January-2 February 2005

Pastoralist groups from around the world gathered in a pastoralist area of East Africa to discuss and share
problems and solutions � taking the opportunity to find common ground and inspiration and exchange new ways
of negotiating an improved deal for pastoralists. The gathering focussed on how pastoralist wisdom can be more widely understood, how governments and powerful institutions can recognize their needs and interests and how they can influence change.

WISP (World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism) was one of the major themes at the gathering. This UNDP initiative was designed to lobby for the sustainable management of pastoral lands through the custodianship of pastoralist peoples. International organizations and �experts' have been challenged to rethink their engagements with pastoralists and ensure that initiatives such as WISP are led directly by pastoralists' knowledge and wishes.  

The Gathering was facilitated by: United Nations Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs - Pastoralist Communication Initiative (UNOCHA � PCI)

For full details, reports and photographs click here.

Click here to access "Rain, Prosperity and Peace" the Institute of Development Studies report on the Global Gathering. A series of short articles set out the perspectives of pastoralist leaders from 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas recording the pastoralists’ own views as heard (and in some cases those of non-pastoralists who were invited by the pastoralists to attend), and as such the document provides a clear indication of key policy issues as seen from a new perspective; issues which transcend differences between
countries and cultures.

UPDATE on Mobile Indigenous Peoples and Conservation Motion for a resolution at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress , Bangkok. 16-24 November 2004

** This resolution was successfully ratified click here for the press release **

Motion for a resolution - Mobile Indigenous Peoples and Conservation adopted resolution number RESWCC3.018, sponsored by Al-Khat Al Akhdar ( Green Line Association ). This motion submitted to the IUCN for the World Conservation Congress endorses the Dana Declaration and highlights the value of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP). It seeks to build on progress made at the 2003 World Parks Congress and the 2004 meeting of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (Kuala Lumpur). Full resolution text here .

See also the WAMIP Briefing Notes on Mobile Indigenous Peoples for background material, excerpts of the proposed resolution for the IUCN congress and details of the Dana Declaration.

An Indigenous Peoples Preparatory meeting will take place 16-17 November in Bangkok in advance of the IUCN Congress. This will allow delegates a chance to prepare for the Congress including discussion of the motion for a Resolution, planning a media relations strategy and reviewing TILCEPA group strategy.

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Foundation organised local logistics. Indigenous Peoples Ad-Hoc Working Group (AHWG) workshops during the congress covered: Customary Laws; Poverty and Protected Areas; and Community Conserved Areas, and the Dana Declaration group supported a workshop organized by WAMIP on �Mobility, livelihoods and conservation.� Full workshop listings here.

The Dana Declaration group financially assisted the attendance of various participants, several of whom presented papers/workshops:

Dawn Chatty � Chair of the Dana Declaration Standing Committee.
Gianluca Serra and Ahmad Al Abdullah (who are presenting a workshop paper � Myths and Misconceptions Regarding Mobile Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity Conservation: the Northern Bald Ibis and Syrian Conservation Efforts).
Salem Al-Zalabea - Wadi Rum Protected Area, Jordan.
2 representatives of Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), Namibia: Mutjimbiko Mutambo [Himba representative] and Gary Gerson Nekongo.
2 representatives of Ujamaa Community Resources Trust, Tanzania: Richard Baalow Munguida and Dismas Partalala Meitaya [Maasai pastoralist representatives] (presenting paper �Indigenous Natural Resources Conservation facing threats ahead. Case study: Hadzabe and Maasai communities in the Northern part of Tanzania.�
Aghaghia Rahimzadeh � WAMIP, CEESP, Iran (organizing workshop on �Mobility, Livelihoods and Conservation').

For more information contact:

Click here for full list of accepted resolutions and recommendations

“Transhumance for Biodiversity in the southern flank of the High Atlas.” GEF/UNDP project based in Ouarzazate (Southern flank of the High Atlas of Morocco) conserving biodiversity through an adaptive management scheme integrating pastoral range management with biodiversity conservation in a grazing-dependent ecosystem, and dealing with problems of degradation resulting from the reduction of human and livestock mobility transhumance and nomadism) and the appearance of sedentarisation (settled populations). The project will address these root causes through a revival of bio-friendly transhumance and common property management regimes, land use planning, and innovative incentives for rangeland and wildlife biodiversity conservation. Consideration given to an institutional instrument such as: National pastoral code, Transhumance charter and Eco- tourism charter.

More information at the project website: or GEF/UNDP project web page. Contact Mohamed Hammoudou (Morocco) - a pastoralist and working with the project. Email:

The Convention on Biological Diversity, Programme of Work on Protected Areas - decision no. VII/28 – Protected Areas, which was taken at the CBD in Kuala Lumpur in February 2004:

The Seventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD/COP7) met in Kuala Lumpur in February 2004 and adopted decision VII/28 on a CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas. Many of the ideas in the programme derive from the Durban Action Plan adopted by the Vth World Parks Congress less than six months earlier. However, since the programme of work was adopted by an intergovernmental decision, it is of great significance.

The programme has important things to say on indigenous peoples. Though not mentioning mobile peoples as a distinct group, many of the messages that pertain to indigenous groups in general apply to mobile peoples

As well as restating the emphasis on indigenous peoples and local communities in Article 8j (support for indigenous peoples, especially their traditional knowledge and in benefit sharing) and Article 10 (sustainable use of biodiversity) of the CBD itself, the decision commits governments to a wide range of measures relating to protected areas. In particular, these involve the engagement of indigenous and local communities and relevant stakeholders in all matters relating to the planning and management of protected areas. See here for the full text of the decision VII/28. See also the Forest People’s report of this meeting.

Participatory Processes Towards Co-management of Natural Resources in Pastoral Areas of the Middle East: A Training of Trainers Source Book.Based on the Principles of Participatory Methods and Approaches by Dawn Chatty, Stephan Baas and Anja Fleig. 2004 (in Collaboration with the Project “Range Rehabilitation and Establishment of a Wildlife Reserve in the Syrian Steppe” GCP/SYR/009/ITA) Click here for more info, and to access the publication. Click here for the PDF. Also available in Arabic.

Conseil Mondial de Éleveurs / World Herders Council Recommendations of CME 2004, after 7th CME meeting. Theme “Accès aux ressources naturelles: code pastoral – signe de reconnaissance légitime des éleveurs ou combat sans solution durable?” 12-16 January at SILOE in the Communauté Urbaine of Niamey Niger. Report (in French) at:

New Book: Rights, Resources & Rural Development: Community-based Natural Resource Management in Southern Africa Edited by Christo Fabricius and Eddie Koch, with Hector Magome and Stephen Turner. Earthscan, London.

World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP) Briefing Notes on Mobile Peoples and Conservation. Includes a section on the Dana Declaration.

Essay written on indigenous issues at the World Parks Congress to be published in "Conservation Biology." Final print version will be appearing in the June 2004 issue. J. Peter Brosius (Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia) Click here for full text.

The Dana Declaration has been endorsed by representatives of Mobile Peoples attending the IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban 2003 ( Press Release - Mobile Indigenous Peoples at the IUCN V World Parks Congress, Durban, South Africa ). A key outcome of the WPC was the adoption of Recommendation 5.27 Mobile Indigenous Peoples and Conservation.

The Durban Accord: A Global Commitment for People and the Earth's Protected Areas Draft 29/06/03 being revised.

The Dana Declaration was presented to participants at the 16th Annual Meeting of the Society of Conservation Biology which was co-hosted by the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology and the British Ecological Society on the 14th - 18th July 2003.

A brief article on the Dana Declaration included in the July 2002 Newsletter of the Adaptive Collaborative Management Programme of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

The Dana Declaration has been translated to Indonesian and disseminated along with a letter soliciting support to the recipients of the Indonesian Nature Conservation List. Link to Dana Declaration in other languages.