Strengthening the Capacity of Pastoral Communities in Kenya to Protect and Conserve their Natural Resources and the Environment
Pastoral communities in Kenya face many challenges to ensuring secure access to and control of their natural resources. In partnership with the Resources Conflict Institute (RECONCILE), ELI developed and convened two workshops to build the capacity of pastoral communities in Kenya to protect, conserve, and sustainably manage their land and natural resources. The pair of workshops brought together over 30 participants drawn from community-based organizations, NGOs, relevant local governmental departments, and pastoral communities around Kenya. These two-day workshops were held in Kabarnet, for Rift Valley pastoralists (November 1-2, 2001), and in Nanyuki, for pastoralists from Eastern Kenya (November 5-6, 2001).
The workshops provided participants with substantive knowledge of environmental law and introduced them to advocacy tools and institutional mechanisms for protecting their interests. The constitutional rights to life and to a healthy environment were highlighted with an emphasis on experiences that illustrate how communities in East Africa and around the world have invoked these rights to protect their health and natural resources. The workshops also provided training on Kenya’s then-new Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), with particular attention paid to the role of communities and individuals in enforcing the legislation. Finally, the workshops highlighted a variety of legal and non-legal advocacy tools that pastoralists may use to protect their natural resources and the environment in the legal and institutional context of Kenya.
Protecting Community Forests in Cameroon
Cameroonian law gives priority to local communities seeking access to forests that have been proposed for logging. This law grants neighboring communities the right to express their interest in having a forest designated as a community forest, thereby preventing the forest from being logged. However, numerous obstacles, including lack of political will, competition from logging companies for access to and control over forests, and lack of community capacity to meet legal and administrative requirements, have impeded implementation of the legislation. As a result, few community forests have been established.
In collaboration with the Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement (CED), ELI convened a training course for approximately 30 community leaders and resource persons on community forest designation and management in Cameroon. The training course was held January 15-17, 2001 in Mbalmayo, a town near Yaounde. The course, which targeted people who would be working in the area in the coming months, field-tested a manual that will be finalized and distributed widely to resource persons and villagers through other training courses and other means of dissemination. Since the course, a number of the participants have been working with communities to develop applications and management plans for community forests.
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