Monday, 21 July 2014

Indigenous Development in Kenya

By Stella Rakwach, MDP 2nd Year Student

Stella (L) & Doreen (R) at IIN office
My field placement is in Nairobi, Kenya with frequent visits to indigenous communities in various parts of the country. I am glad my MDP journey is nearing the end with my final practicum halfway done. I have been working together with Margaret (MDP student) at the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), which is an NGO founded in 1996 that is managed by a few professionals with the help of several volunteers/ interns. IIN works with Indigenous People (nomadic pastoralists and hunters and gatherers) in Kenya to provide them with information through the media and Nomadic News Magazine which is published annually. IIN provides information about Indigenous Peoples, their livelihoods, opportunities and challenges they face in relation to development. 

I am enjoying my time here very much, not only am I home, but I have also had the chance to meet family and several friends. There are many activities going on at IIN and everyone has been eager to involve me in various programs and field visits. At the moment IIN has several projects ranging from climate change adaptation, education of girls, human rights, advocacy to environmental issues.


On the way to Narok county
We visited Narok County, home to the Maasai courtesy of IIN’s climate change adaptation project dubbed “Changieni Rasili Mali (CRM)” to attend the project launch. CRM will address illegal logging, charcoal burning and afforestation of Indigenous forests in the Narok region. The CRM launch was part of the World Environment Day (5th June) celebrations whose theme was “raise your voices not the sea level.”   

Girls performing a traditional Maasai dance
The highlight of this trip was getting the opportunity to immerse into the rich culture of the Masaai through art (beautiful handmade beadwork, paintings and colorful fabric) which are sold in various small galleries all over Narok town. It was also interesting to hear the Maasai native language (Maa) spoken and listen to their beautiful songs and dances which was entertaining. Also as part of the climate change programs we attended the annual PACJA (Pan Africa Climate Change Justice Alliance) awards which are held annually to honor journalists all over Africa who excel in reporting on climate change and environmental issues. As part of the awards ceremony several interesting stories were highlighted to show the diverse ways in which African communities were adapting to climate change.

Stella at the launch of the Global Oceans Commissions Report at UNEA
Finally, I also got a chance courtesy of IIN’s Director to attend the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme which was held at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi. The meeting was attended by several participants, including Environment Ministers, Government delegates and representatives of major groups and stakeholders.  The theme of the first session was “Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including sustainable consumption and production”. The outcome of this discussion and other ongoing discussions will be useful in the formulation of targets and indicators which would succeed the Millennium Development Goals. Also key on the agenda was the discussion on the issue of illegal trade in wildlife, which has had adverse impacts on biodiversity globally.

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