Sengwer people evicted for controversial - World Bank funded - project in Kenya
Under the pretext of a ‘Natural Resource Management Project’ funded by the World Bank, the Kenyan Forest Service has, again, started to forcibly evict the indigenous Sengwer people from their ancestral lands in the Kerangany Hills and to burn down their houses. This was documented on March 2nd, by a fact-finding team that was sent to the ground by the World Bank’s own inspection panel.
This news is painful and ironic in light of the meeting that will be held by the World Bank and the Government of Kenya on 4-6 March. This meeting is supposed to set the scene for a respectful dialogue between traditional forest dwelling communities and the Government, including President Kenyatta, the Ministry of the Environment and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
Evictions ‘for nature’
The World Bank has been financing the project, but has failed to keep Kenya Forest Service from forcibly evicting communities from their lands in order to execute it. This means that the World Bank has violated its own rules and regulations concerning social standards and human rights.
Fair and transparent
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim's stated on 14th February 2014: “We are not bystanders. . . . we will intensify discussions with all parties involved, including the Government and civil society. Far too often, the voices of the poor and disenfranchised around the world are not heard. The cases of the people in the affected communities in Kenya should be urgently evaluated in a fair and transparent manner.”
But reality appears to be very different. The Sengwer issued a letter to the World Bank and to the Kenyan government urging that the harassment stops and everyone can sit down peacefully together to chart a positive way ahead. Paul Wolvekamp of Both ENDS points out that it is now up to the World Bank and the Kenyan government to show the world it respects the Sengwer’s peaceful demands, by ensuring an immediate halt of further evictions and comply with the Bank’s and Government’s commitments and obligations under international law.