The Sengwer are indigenous people who live in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani Hills in Kenya. They have lived there for time immemorial. But since British colonial rule, the Sengwer have been evicted from their homes. From 2007 to 2013, the World Bank funded the Kenya Forest Service but did nothing to support the rights of the Sengwer, in breach of World Bank safeguards.
In 2007, the Forest Peoples Programme put out a briefing paper about reduced emissions from deforestation, or RED, as REDD was called back then. The briefing warned of the risks of the rapid expansion of avoided deforestation schemes without due regard to rights, and social and livelihood issues.
The Ogiek are one of the last groups of hunter gatherers in Kenya. Their ancestral land is in the Mau Forest in the Rift Valley of Kenya. For many years, the Kenyan government has threatened them with eviction, in the name of conservation. Last week, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled that the Ogiek have the right to live in the Mau Forest and that the government of Kenya was wrong to evict them.
A new report by Re:Common and Counter Balance investigates the Althelia Climate Fund and its investment in a REDD project in Kenya. The report highlights the findings of a July 2016 visit to the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area in Kenya.
On 1 November 2016, I wrote about the International Finance Corporation’s launch of a US$152 million bond. According to the IFC’s press release, the bond will “protect forests and deepen carbon-credit markets”. The reality is that the IFC is bailing out Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD project in Kenya, a project that had failed to raise enough money from sales of carbon credits. The carbon credits provide some green REDD froth on IFC’s business as usual.
Since the 1960s, the Sengwer indigenous people living in the Embobut forest have been evicted many times. In recent years, the evictions have intensified.
In July 2009, Navin Rai travelled to the Cherangani Hills in Kenya as part of a delegation of World Bank and Kenyan officials who travelled to the Cherangani Hills in Kenya. At the time Rai was the World Bank’s top adviser on Indigenous Peoples.
On 13 June 2013, the European Investment Bank agreed to give up to €25 million to Athelia Climate Fund. This is the first time that the European Investment Bank has funded a European carbon fund. It is also the first time that the EIB has supported REDD, and it is doing so through a financial intermediary.
“Efficient reduction in carbon emission has … been the raison d’être of REDD+. A hotly debated issue surrounding REDD+ is how much such measures should adhere to social safeguards, address equity concerns and provide other co-benefits beyond carbon storage, such as bio-diversity conservation and poverty alleviation.”
“Carbon forestry is privatizing, commodifying and financializing the world’s forests, recasting relations between state and market forest landscapes,” says Jesse Ribot, University of Illinois in a review of a new book.
Since December 2013, REDD-Monitor has been following the evictions of the Sengwer indigenous people who live in the Cherangany Hills. The evictions have been going on for many years, at the hands of armed Kenya Forest Service guards, who have evicted the Sengwer and burned down their homes.
From 4-6 March 2015, a meeting took place in Eldoret, Kenya, organised by the World Bank and Kenya’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. The meeting aimed to find a positive way forward following years of evictions from Kenya’s forested areas.