Indigenous peoples are often severely affected by large scale infrastructure projects, internal displacement, environmental toxicity and pollution caused by extractive industries, abrogation of their treaty rights, grabbing of their lands, territories and natural resources, loss of culture via educational systems that denigrate their cultures and languages and other problems caused by non-inclusive policies, development and governance models.
Moreover, even where policy and service delivery models are targeted towards indigenous communities, they often operate in a non-inclusive, top down manner, which creates dependency on government services and does not promote sustainable human development that protects and promotes the cultural, political, social and economic integrity of indigenous communities. Besides the ethical and cultural implications of such lack of participation, development experts have by now realized that such programs are not even financially sustainable.
Our community strategy is anchored on Legal frameworks and the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), which provides the rationale of fully and meaningfully engaging indigenous peoples in governance. The principle is acknowledged in various documents within the field of international human rights law, such as Article 6 of the ILO Convention (No. 169) Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which refers to the principle of free and informed consent in the context of establishing mechanisms for free participation at all levels of decision-making in “elective institutions and administrative bodies responsible for policies and programmes which concern them”.
The article also refers to consultations through representative institutions whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may directly affect indigenous peoples. Presently, there is no empirical evidence of the level of public participation as well as programming within the larger Kajiado County. Social accountability is very limited as the community is not enough empowered to hold the county government to account, while at the same time the county government has not fully utilized existing constitutional platforms to engage and involve the public in development processes especially youth and women. In addition, the county has not embraced gender responsive public service; this is evidence in the budgeting processes, availing of opportunities to women and youth as well as provision of goods and services to the community.
EFFECTIVE AND ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS
Community Land Protection Program A key step in empowering communities to sustainably manage and benefit from their land and natural resources is to enable them to demand good governance and hold authorities to account. Pastoral, and agro pastoral communities are entwined in a network of formal and informal institutions and governance—traditional, local such as a village and ward, regional, and national. Strong, accountable, and transparent institutions across these networks are the centerpiece of the governance and management of natural resources.
After securing land tenure and zoning different uses through land use planning, building effective governance institutions is the next key activity NLIPP engages in to help ensure sustainable natural resource management, including rangeland management. Through partnerships, other partners can take other roles such as rangeland monitoring. NLIPP strengthens the ability of local institutions to make collective decisions and enforce rules in several ways.
First, it provides knowledge and helps communities to understand and recognize their rights. Second, it promotes the integration of customary practices with formal governance. Third, it encourages communities to ensure diverse members of society are included. This holistic approach to building good governance is critical to ensuring the livelihood needs and collective land and resource regimes of communities in southern part of Kenya are understood, recognized, and included in decision-making processes. These networks are reinforced by advocacy efforts that shape policy and regulatory processes.
STRENGTHENING OF COMMUNITY-BASED INSTITUTIONS
Strengthening community-based institutions is a critical step towards effective, equitable and accountable governance across a range of scales. Key to this is building the capacity of community institutions to ensure participatory systems and structures are in place, to improve transparency and observance of the rule of law and to enable them to negotiate and enforce agreements over land and natural resource use. This has been a core strategy of NLIPPs work over the years, and their role has been focused around training of governance institutions and the communities they serve. NLIPP now needs to expand their focus beyond training to include ongoing mentoring and support to members of governance bodies over time to ensure real change within the targeted institutions.
This strategy will also entail meetings and training sessions with the wider community to build their capacity to understand information presented to them by elected bodies and know those institutions roles and responsibilities. A more just and equitable society requires not only the inclusion of people that are normally pushed aside or left out of decision-making processes, but that these groups are empowered to advocate for and represent themselves. Through the Women Rights and Leadership Forums (WRLFs), NLIPP catalyzes the ability of women to take leadership roles and shape decision-making processes and hold governance institutions to account.