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Julius Muchemi talks about participatory mapping of the Ogiek ancestral territories

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My name is Julius Muchemi. I am working with ERMIS Africa, ... ... that is the Environmental Research Mapping Information Systems in Africa, ... ... and I am the Executive Director. Julius, during your participation in this workshop, ... ... we have noticed that you have been working very closely with the communities in Mau Forest. Can you briefly tell us how you have been addressing the issues of land tenure ... ... using PGIS (Participatory GIS)? The communities in Mau, have a long-standing case, in terms of land ... ... tenure. We have been assisting this community, ... ... in terms of identifying their indigenous territories, and putting these in map format. A map is quite appealing and quite persuasive, ... ... and the communities has been delineating their territories, ... ... and we have been coaching them on how to come up with maps that ... ... they could use to advocate for rights to their land, ... ... also in terms of identifying resources, and how they could manage their resources, ... ... and also their culture, because it is spread along the forest. How important have these maps been to those communities from your perspective ... ... and experience? Maps are quite important for this community because they have never done it for all the years. As they have confessed [reported], it is the first time that they have put a map of their territories on record. This means that nobody has a map of their territories on record. If they are going to put them on record, then that is evidence that they own the area within Mau. Because they know it, they know each and every part [of it], ... ... and they know the resources that are there, they know the animals, ... ... they know all the plants, and everything that they are associated with. We believe that the maps are going to be quite important in trying to persuade the ... ... government into integrating the Ogiek maps into existing maps featuring the Mau Forest. We believe that during this period, it has not been very easy. Most of the times, ... ... maybe you have faced a lot of obstacles. What lessons have you learned ... ... in the process and that you would like to share? The one lesson I have learned is that communities are able to map, ... ... but they need to be taken through the mapping as a process. They must learn the techniques that are involved, ... ... so that these maps can be accepted, or ... ... looked at by the government, and the government make sense out of them. I've also seen that it is important that the government is brought closer to the community ... ... in terms of developing these maps, because if the government has its own maps ... ... and communities are coming up with their own maps, ... ... at least there needs to be a convergence between the two maps. So that the government can recognize the interests of the communities ... ... and the communities can be brought closer to the existing maps ... ... that are with the government. I have also realised that it is quite important that communities be involved in policy making. So that, if there are policies that are being formulated for forest management, ... ... or any other kind of natural resource, or even land, ... ... then, the communities need to be involved so that their interests and also their lives ... ... can be incorporated within the policies, so that we do not have policies ... ... that are working against the community. It is important that communities be engaged from the beginning to the end. Would you say that this process has caused an enabling environment, ... ... particularly for the community members, to be able to start the process ... ... of dialogue with government? Actually I would say that "mapping" is the beginning of the process, of the dialogue process, ... ... of the advocacy process, because when they map, they include themselves into the maps ... ... that are existing. It means that they exist; because if you are not on the map then you do not exist. This means that once they show their location within the existing maps, ... ... or within their territorial maps, then this is actually the beginning ... ... of showing the government that they exist, that ... ... they have an interest on a certain piece of land, ... ... and they are also able to do other things, because a map is a beginning to ... ... natural resource management and to land use planning, and to preservation of culture. So that once they develop the map, it represents a working platform, ... ... a planning platform, a dialogue platform for any kind of activity ... ... that communities engage in for sustainable development. Apart from that, what about the issue of conflict resolution? Have they been able to use it ... ... to resolve their conflicts? Did it contribute in terms of added value? Maps are quite key because they also reveal all of the stakeholders within a certain piece of land. Like the case of Mau on June 4th of this year [2005], we actually held a kind of an ... ... extrajudicial meeting with all the stakeholders within Mau ... ... and especially those who are involved in the case that is already in court. What was interesting is that we were using a map showing ... ... where each and every stakeholder is. Then, we were asking ourselves, ... ... with the community and also with the other stakeholders in Mau, "Now, what is actually the problem?" We found that it is a beginning point for identifying the interests and looking at the areas, ... ... or looking at how the interests are conflicting. From there, people can be able to ask themselves, ... ... "Why are we actually fighting? We are living in the same space and ... ... how can we actually best manage our resources without being in conflict with each other?" ... I would say that maps are quite powerful, because they can show the relationship ... ... in resource utilisation. They can also show conflicts in terms of occupation of land, ... ... in terms of ownership. Because ownership is found on maps, ... ... so I would say that maps are quite powerful because they can reveal ... ... the conflicts within a piece of land or within a territory. Thank you. Educational video produced in the framework of the project: "Support the spread ... ... of good practice in generating, managing, analysing and communicating spatial information"

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 36 seconds
Year: 2009
Country: Kenya
Language: English
Producer: CTA
Director: Giacomo Rambaldi
Views: 148
Posted by: giacomo on Dec 2, 2009

The video shows how PGIS has been used by Ogiek Indigenous People within Mau Forest Complex, Kenya, to reclaim their ancestral territories. During the period 2004-2005, ERMIS received funding from CDE –Switzerland to support 22 Ogiek clans to record their territorial claims onto a map using aerial photograph enlargements of 1991 to support their advocacy efforts. This experience was shared by Julius Muchemi at the “International Mapping for Change, 2005” held in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2006-2008, ERMIS received additional funds from CTA and IPACC for a P3DM to supplement the aerial photos. In 2009-2010, ERMIS published the Ogiek claims into “Ogiek Peoples Ancestral Territories Atlas” was produced and adopted by the Government to aide in restitution and resettlement of Ogiek within their land.

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