Kenya: Photo story from the Endorois homelands

As part of Minority Rights Group International’s Trouble in Paradise Campaign, MRG staff members Emma Eastwood and Neil Clarke traveled to Kenya in October, 2008 on a fact finding mission examining the effects of tourism on indigenous communities. Information collected on this trip went on to inform MRG’s efforts to encourage a symbiotic balance between eco-tourism and the preservation of minority peoples and their lifestyles. The campaign focused on the situation of the Endorois people, evicted from their ancestral lands in order to accommodate a game reserve instated in the area in the 1970s. Minority communities like the one pictured in the below photographs illustrate the potential threat that touristic developments can pose to pastoral peoples.

In the past 30 years, the Endorois community has slowly and methodically been evicted from their traditional lands, starting with their community removal from territory surrounding Lake Bogoria in the Rift Valley and continuing to the expansion of both ruby mines and game reserves into the present. At no point during this evicting were community members compensated for their lands and are now relegated to a small strip of semi arid land on which they are no longer able to sustain cattle herding or beekeeping activities as a means of subsistence and income. Poverty is rife and there are few means of access to education, electricity, or running water. Once sacred sites are now off limits to the community and as a result, religious traditions are no longer being practiced.

Most recently, a landmark court ruling by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has deemed such forced eviction of minority groups from their land to be unlawful and in direct breach of basic human rights. Wilson Kipsang Kipkazi, of the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC) said in a recent interview, “We are delighted that the African Commission has recognized the wrong that was done decades ago. This decision is the result of a sustained campaign for the recognition of the Endorois as a distinct indigenous community and the restoration of our ancestral land.”

Gallery

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Hotel pool which was discovered to be diverting water away from the local community and farming lands. Outflow from the pool was then used by Endorois villagers to wash.
 MRG-GAL-803
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The hotel, which was built on Endorois traditional land, accommodates the influx of tourists who travel to this region of Africa
 MRG-GAL-804
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A meeting between MRG staff and Mr. Wilson Kipsing Kipkazi, Program Officer of the Endorois Welfare Council
 MRG-GAL-805
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Abandoned ruby mine built on Endorois land. The mine was closed after it was found to be polluting local rivers
 MRG-GAL-806
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Richard Yegon is an elder from the village of Kapkuikui. Endorois elders take an active role in counseling and guiding the community and help to resolve conflicts over land and other resources such as water
 MRG-GAL-807
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Beehives have been constructed as a means of generating profit for members of the community and supplementing income from dwindling cattle herding activities, now threatened by limited access to pastoral lands
 MRG-GAL-808
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“Traditional” villages recreated for benefit of tourists to the region. In reality, indigenous communities now face challenges of extreme poverty as their main form of subsistence, pastoral herding, has been greatly hindered by touristic developments
 MRG-GAL-809
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Welcoming ceremony for MRG staff visiting the Endorois community on a fact finding mission.
 MRG-GAL-810
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Lake Bogoria is of great cultural significance to the Endorois. This area is now one of the largest hotspots for tourism in the area and many visitors come to witness the geysers (considered sacred by the Endorois)
 MRG-GAL-811
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Sarah Chelimo helps run the Chelaba Women's Group - a cooperative set up by local women to help lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The women weave mats out of Seagram grass, which are used locally for roofing, beds and partition walls in h
 MRG-GAL-812
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Date: 01/10/2008

Countries:

Kenya

Categories:

Land Rights

Copyright Holder: Minority Rights Group

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