Indigenous People’s Responses to Environmental Injustices and Degradation: A Case Study of the Ogiek Community of Kenya


The study presented in this paper is a case analysis that describes and interprets indigenous peoples responses to environmental injustices and degradation. It focuses on the Ogiek, an indigenous, hunter-gatherer minority, who live in the Mau Forest of Kenya, and whose livelihood activities concentrate heavily on the utilization of surrounding natural resources. Yet, as policies are formulated that restrict their access to, and control of forest resources, their ability to derive a livelihood is reduced, if not eliminated altogether.

Cast within a political ecology framework, the study examines the patterns of responses to environmental injustices and degradation, as well as the impact of such responses on the local environment and indigenous livelihoods. Data was collected using a combination of oral interview, focus group discussions, observation and documentary evidence.

The findings reveal that indigenous responses to environmental degradation involve various survival and coping strategies, as well as organized public campaigns and protests. Inasmuch as some of those responses intensify environmental degradation, they have the potential to empower indigenous minorities to regain control and management of their local resources. The paper makes policy and program recommendations underscoring the need for policy makers to recognize the importance of indigenous and traditional systems in forest protection, as well as participation of indigenous minorities in the policy-making process. It also recommends a review of existing policies to protect the rights of indigenous minority forest dwellers and foster development initiatives that meet their spiritual, cultural and social well-being.


Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology

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