Stop illegal evictions in Baringo, communities urge

Isaiah Biwott, Kamnarok Community rights defender, Isaac Tobiko, executive chair of Community Land Action Now! (CLAN), Lawrence Kiplagat, Kerio Valley Community Organisation(KVCO) project coordinator, Sylvia Mutai, political scientist student and Osman Abdille, CLAN Steering Committee. [James Wanzala, Standard]

Indigenous communities of Kamnarok in Baringo North Constituency have faulted ongoing evictions and called for an immediate stop.

They are also demanding government intervention to protect their ancestral land.

The Kerio Valley Community (KVCO) are blaming the County Government of Baringo, Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) and Northern Rangeland Trust for the evictions to establish conservancies.

“This is an illegal gazetted farmland covering an area of 87.7 square kilometers. It affects many sub-locations of Barwesssa ward –Muchukwo, Katibel, Keturwo, Konoo, Barwessa, Kaptilomwo, and Kuikui of Baringo North sub-county,” said Isaiah Biwott, Kamnarok Community rights defender.

He spoke in Nairobi during a media event organized by Community Land Action Now! (CLAN).

He added: “Kamnarok community demands immediate action from authorities to stop the evictions and torching, provide essential support like food, shelter, and medical assistance to those already displaced, and ensure that economic activities in the area remain uninterrupted.”

They also called for the speeding up of the registration process for land in conflict areas and for the rights of the community to access local resources.

They advocated for proper public participation and citizen engagement, as mandated by the Constitution and international human rights protocols.

The group insisted that the intention to fence the contested area should be halted until the underlying conflicts are resolved.

They highlighted procedural irregularities in the gazettement of the game reserve, emphasising the need for adherence to proper legal procedures.

The demands underscore the community's determination to protect their rights, preserve their way of life, and seek justice in the face of ongoing challenges and threats to their existence.

“We believe the current evictions of the Kamnarok community are to pave the way for the conversation ideas. As a community, all indications are that we are being crucified by the same county government of Baringo, which formed a task force on December 24, 2014, to look into Kamnarok issues," said Sylvia Mutai, who hails from the County.

According to Isaac Tobiko, executive chair of CLAN! The county Government, Kenya Wildlife Service, Northern Rangelands Trust and their proxies should engage the Kamnarok community.

“If they need to undertake conservation initiatives, this is our ancestral land and we won't surrender our land just like that. We are not lesser Kenyans and we deserve dignity as human beings, our rights as a community have been violated and deprived,” said Tobiko.

Lawrence Kiplagat, executive chair of KCVO said: "We will not allow our homes to be destroyed, our livelihoods to be disrupted, and our rights to be trampled upon."

The protest comes amid growing concerns about the environmental challenges facing the region, including floods and mudslides.

Despite facing adversity and expressing fears of their worsening challenges, the indigenous community in Kamnarok remains resolute in their determination to fight for justice.

“Eviction is not a necessary issue because there are other means to be done. Kamnarok community are people who have been living there and they are the people who are the stewards and custodians of that land,” said David Selakan CLAN coordinator.

He added: “The government has yet to respond to the community's demands. Still, pressure is mounting for swift action to address the illegal evictions and ensure the protection of indigenous rights in Kamnarok.