Category Archives: land

Kindled by 2015 fires, Indonesia thinks big on forest protection

A fire fighter tries to put out a fire on land intended for a palm oil plantation in the village of Tanjung Palas, Dumai, Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia in this photo taken by Antara Foto on March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Aswaddy Hamid/Antara Foto

KUALA LUMPUR, – As forest fires raged in Indonesia six years ago, a thick, toxic smoke haze drifted across Southeast Asia that would lead to more than 100,000 premature deaths, destroy huge swathes of forest and threaten endangered orangutans.

In the aftermath, environmentalists and governments, both regional and local, demanded action from Jakarta, forcing a policy reset that last year helped the country achieve a fourth straight year of declines in deforestation.

Bimo Dwisatrio, a senior research officer at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), said the 2015 crisis was a political game-changer for forest governance under Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi.

The fires occurred just months after he was elected in 2014. “Jokowi took a bold step,” Dwisatrio told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, pointing to his move to merge the environment and forestry ministries.

At the time it was criticised by many conservationists, but has resulted in better aligned policies on conservation, forest fires and permits for commodities development.

Last year, tropical forest losses around the world equalled the size of the Netherlands, according to satellite monitoring service Global Forest Watch (GFW).

Green groups blame production of commodities like palm oil – used in everything from margarine to soap and fuel – and minerals for much of the destruction of forests, as they are cleared for plantations, ranches, farms and mines.

Cutting down forests has major implications for global goals to curb climate change, as trees absorb about a third of the planet-warming emissions produced worldwide, but release carbon back into the air when they rot or are burned.

In Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest tropical forests and also its biggest palm-oil producer, deforestation rates have bucked the worsening global trend.

Last year, the sprawling archipelago improved from third to fourth place in the GFW ranking for tropical forest loss, which amounted to about 270,000 hectares (667,000 acres), as forest protection policies, lower commodity prices and wetter weather eased pressures.

MORATORIUM MANDATE

After visiting some of the areas worst-hit by the 2015 fires, Widodo introduced more legislation to stop the development of old-growth forest.

The government renewed a moratorium on new conversion permits for primary forest and peatland – which had been extended since 2011 – before making it permanent in 2019.

In late 2018, Widodo imposed a temporary ban on new permits for palm plantations for three years.

Dechen Tsering, Asia-Pacific director at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said the restrictions on new clearance “have certainly been critical”, while falling palm oil prices may also have helped slow deforestation.

The establishment of an agency to restore more than 2 million hectares of damaged, carbon-rich peat has also been positive, said environment experts, who welcomed a recent expansion of its mandate to mangroves.

In addition, Widodo vowed to return 12.7 million hectares of forest land to indigenous people following a historic 2013 court ruling to lift state control of customary forests.

And the government last year issued an agrarian reform decree aimed at redistributing land and issuing titles on some 9 million hectares.

David Dellatore, director of conservation programmes for U.S.-based nonprofit Rainforest Trust, said those reforms were helping to alleviate poverty and encourage sustainable land use.

Forest-reliant businesses such as palm oil and pulp and paper companies have, meanwhile, adopted new industry-wide policies under pledges to phase out deforestation, worked with green groups, and invested in technologies to track supplies and prevent forest fires.

The global palm oil industry watchdog has adopted stricter rules for certification schemes to safeguard forests, while Indonesia also expanded its own sustainability scheme.

UNEP’s Tsering said there were still challenges, such as forest-clearing by small-scale producers for palm oil and other commodities, and conflicts over forest land between communities and businesses, which often lead to fires.

Green groups have warned of rising deforestation risks, from both food and palm oil projects, in Indonesia’s Papua province.

BRAZIL GAINS REVERSED

Despite those concerns, Indonesia’s conservation approach could help other countries now battling growing deforestation, like Brazil and Bolivia, forest experts said.

Success would hinge on enlisting the support of impoverished communities, said Rainforest Trust’s Dellatore.

“If one’s basic needs are not being met, it is unrealistic to expect conservation efforts that serve to limit development to flourish,” he said.

In the past, measures like those used in Indonesia had a positive impact on deforestation in Brazil, reducing it by 80%, he noted.

They included similar efforts to clean up supply chains, in this case for beef and soy, alongside increased law enforcement and firefighting.

From 2004 to 2012, Brazil was a leader in reducing deforestation in the Amazon and mitigating climate change, thanks to public policies and private measures, which it shared with Indonesia, said Dwisatrio.

“But it is clear from the case of Brazil how quickly such gains can be reversed through political instability,” he added.

VITAL CARBON SINKS

Last week, Widodo praised Indonesia’s slowing deforestation rates and mangrove restoration projects during the virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Under the Paris climate accord, Indonesia has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 29% by 2030, a target that could rise to 41% with international support.

While progress on protecting forests will help achieve its emissions pledges, they will not be strengthened in an updated climate action plan due to be submitted ahead of a U.N. climate summit in November, officials have indicated.

UNEP’s Tsering said all countries, including Indonesia, would need to set their sights higher in protecting massive, irrecoverable carbon sinks like tropical forests and peatlands.

More than half of Indonesia’s emissions are related to deforestation, peatland degradation and fires, she noted.

“Without addressing these emission sources, Indonesia will not be able to meet its … (targets) under the Paris Agreement,” she added.

https://news.trust.org/item/20210429225418-ahvod/

Illegal logger turns firefighter to defend Indonesia’s peatlands

Setiono Ono stands with equipment to help extinguish small fires at the office of the Rawa Mekar Jaya community fire organisation on September 1, 2020. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Harry Jacques

SIAK, Indonesia, – Setiono Ono pauses his morning wildfire patrol near the northeastern coast of Sumatra island at a small timber dam between a logged area and an oil palm plantation.

Water the colour of charcoal is leaking out from the dam along a narrow canal cut to drain the surrounding peatland.

The dam, built by the local community here in the Siak regency of Riau province, is one of thousands of canal barriers constructed in recent years to protect Indonesia’s peatlands, seen as critical in the fight against climate change.

“We need to fix this,” said fire patrol leader Setiono, 40, before heading into the patchy forest with two other volunteers.

Peat accounts for about 3% of the world’s land surface, but peatlands store more carbon than all other terrestrial vegetation combined, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

When peatlands burn, they release carbon into the atmosphere, accounting for almost 6% of the annual carbon dioxide emissions fuelling global warming, the IUCN says.

Indonesia is home to more than a third of the world’s tropical peat, giving it a key role in safeguarding the carbon-rich ecosystem.

But in recent decades, its peatlands – 10 metres (33 ft) deep in places – have experienced rapid conversion into valuable commercial plantations to meet rising international demand for palm oil, pulp and paper.

That has helped lift small farmers out of poverty but also brought urgent environmental and public health risks.

Plantation trees fare poorly in drenched soil, so companies have dug thousands of kilometres of canals to drain off water.

But dissecting the landscape with these canals has dried it out and increased peatland fires, which smoulder underground for long periods and can often be doused only by heavy rain.

The threat is highest when climate patterns prolong Sumatra’s main dry season beyond September, as in 2015 and 2019.

In 2015, fires burned about 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of land in Indonesia, an area 20 times larger than Los Angeles, about a third of it peat.

But in Setiono’s village, there have been no fires since 2017 – which many here attribute to the former illegal logger.

After leaving middle school as a teenager, Setiono spent almost a decade of his youth cutting down trees and dodging tigers and police in the peat forest he now looks after.

He suffered frequent injuries and was hospitalised after a chainsaw slipped and tore through his thigh. Eleven other illegal loggers he knew were jailed.

He guesses he felled more than 100 trees in the forest near the leaking dam.

“For me this is strong motivation,” said Setiono. “The bottom line is that I used to destroy nature.”

COMMUNITY SHIELD

Setiono now heads the Masyarakat Peduli Api (MPA), or “Fire Care Community”, for Rawa Mekar Jaya, a village on the north coast of Siak about 150 km (93 miles) west of Singapore.

Community fire initiatives began in Indonesia under pilot schemes in the early 2000s, before the government formally established the MPA programme in 2009.

At the peak of the 2015 fire crisis, state firefighters worked morning to night as power lines burned and schools closed for a month under a blanket of toxic haze.

“Everyone had respiratory infections, coughs, breathing difficulties,” Setiono told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A study by Harvard and Columbia universities indicated the 2015 air pollution could have caused 100,000 premature deaths.

Setiono heard about the community fire prevention programme that year and travelled to Pekanbaru, the provincial capital, for a month’s basic training.

Five years on, he has built one of Riau’s largest village fire brigades, with no dedicated funding.

Donated fire hoses and generators are stacked ready in a garden shed next to his red-brick bungalow.

Other equipment is stored a short drive away at the fire brigade’s office, surrounded by dark sumps and pineapple plants.

MPA members keep bees, using proceeds from honey sales to fund the community organisation.

“If there is a fire and smoke enters this village, then our children could become asthmatic,” said MPA volunteer and father-of-two Suroso Lilik, 37.

The group convenes every morning to check on the 16,800-hectare area it is responsible for.

Its 25 volunteers work in shifts, patrolling the river on a small barge and traversing degraded fields on foot.

“Our village is ours,” said Setiono. “If we don’t (do this), who else is there?”

https://news.trust.org/item/20201016070657-sjncd/

Brazil court decision sparks fears indigenous land could be handed to farmers

Ywyto’awa (woman in red shirt) stands near the Bom Jardim River, which passes the village of Paranopiona, in the Apyterewa indidgenous reserve, Brazil, 2014. HANDOUT/Carlos Fausto

SAO PAULO, – When Kaworé Parakana sees the smoke rising on the horizon, the indigenous leader knows that another part of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is gone.

For more than three decades, the Parakana people have been fighting to protect their land in the Apyterewa reservation, in the northern state of Pará, from illegal miners, loggers and farmers who clear large swathes of trees.

“With each day that passes there is a huge amount of deforestation. They create large fields. There has been a lot of smoke here lately at the bottom of the area,” Kaworé told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over the phone.

He said the Parakana fear there will be many more burning trees after a Supreme Court decision that could allow the municipality that oversees the reservation to legalize the presence of farmers already encroaching on the land.

In May, Justice Gilmar Mendes opened the door to negotiations between Brazil’s government and the municipality of Sao Félix do Xingu, which wants to reduce the size of the indigenous territory on behalf of a local farmers’ association.

Land rights activists say the proposal, which would make indigenous protected areas available for development, is unconstitutional.

The negotiations – referred to by the court as a conciliation – could set a precedent for the reduction of other indigenous territories across the country, they warn.

“Rights to (indigenous) territories, as provided in the constitution itself, are non-disposable rights – they are not subject to any type of negotiation,” said Luiz Eloy Terena, a lawyer at APIB, Brazil’s main indigenous federation.

Eloy explained there are several other Supreme Court hearings set for the coming months to address similar land conflicts between indigenous communities and illegal miners, loggers and farmers.

Those hearings may be influenced by the result of the negotiations over Apyterewa, he added.

Eloy and other indigenous rights advocates say the Parakana were not initially asked to participate in the negotiations about their own land.

In June, the Attorney General’s office published a document criticizing the lack of indigenous representatives in the process.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation made several requests for comment to Mendes, the Attorney General’s office, the lawyer representing Sao Félix do Xingu and the farmers’ associations, but received no replies.

For the Parakana people, negotiations are not an option, Kaworé said – the only acceptable outcome for the community is the eviction of the invaders from their land.

“We don’t want to give them even a millimeter,” he said.

SOARING DEFORESTATION

Covering 730,000 hectares (1.8 million acres), Apyterewa had the second-highest level of deforestation amongst indigenous territories in 2019, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which tracks deforestation in Brazil.

More than 85 sq km (32 square miles) of forest were cleared last year alone, the institute’s data shows.

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon hit an 11-year high last year and has soared a further 25% in the first half of 2020, according to INPE.

The tree loss is driven mainly by forest being cleared for cattle ranching, soy cultivation, and illegal gold mining and logging.

Forests are vital for curbing climate change, as trees absorb about a third of the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions produced worldwide.

The Amazon forest also plays a crucial role in producing moisture that falls as rainfall in the southern agricultural heartlands of Brazil and Argentina – areas hit by heavy drought in recent years as the forest disappears.

Under Brazil’s current constitution, enacted in 1988, indigenous lands belong to the state, which grants indigenous peoples the permanent right to live and work on them.

Indigenous reservations, which the federal indigenous affairs agency Funai says make up more than 12% of Brazil’s territory, have long been targeted by outsiders looking to tap their natural resources.

Human rights groups say invaders have been stepping up their activities in recent years, emboldened by Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and his plans to introduce mining and farming in protected and indigenous lands in the Amazon region.

“The government wants to exchange indigenous people for cattle. That is the government’s main interest – to transform the forest into farmland and put cattle on indigenous land,” Kaworé said.

‘CLEARLY A THREAT’

Carlos Fausto, an anthropologist and lecturer at the National Museum, a leading research institution in Brazil, said the Supreme Court’s decision could have long-lasting implications for indigenous land rights and for the Amazon.

“It means all indigenous land will be a target from now on,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In destroying large swathes of forest cover, the illegal miners and loggers are also impacting water sources vital to the animals that the Parakana hunt for food, he added.

“Worst of all, we are talking about an area where springs that serve as subsistence to the Parakana people are located,” said Fausto, who carried out his doctoral research among the indigenous community.

“One of the greatest threats caused in the process of forest clearing is to the area where game breeds,” he noted, adding that the community relies on the springs for fishing and hunting.

As the Parakana wait to hear the government’s position on the reduction of their territory, Aluísio Azanha, the lawyer representing the community, noted that Brazil’s constitution “imposes a duty on the Union to demarcate and protect (indigenous lands).”

Kaworé said the negotiations are “clearly a threat”.

“It’s nothing more than that: the government is threatening our territory,” he said.

“If this happens to the Parakana people, the people will die together with the land, because how will we practice our culture? It could suddenly die. We don’t want that.”

The Woman at the Heart of Sustainable Development

sustainable photo

Posted by Odile Ntakirutimana

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

All over the world, gender inequality makes and keeps women poor, depriving them of basic rights and opportunities for well-being.The root of this discrimination is in the way of considering women as nonexistent on their own as full human beings but as always attached to someone else: a daughter or a wife to someone.

In Africa, and in most patriarchal systems, women have been considered as entitled to no rights or to fewer rights than men. Popular beliefs in some cultures still consider them as having no right to own property in general and land in particular. If a woman hopes to someday inherit family property, the law may deprive her of an equal share, or social convention may simply favor her male relatives.

It is not uncommon in Africa to see a man take over a property of his deceased brother or uncle when the deceased has left descendants that are mainly or only girls. For many women therefore, access to land is not a guaranteed right and the consequences are even harsher for rural and unmarried or divorced women who cannot survive without land as it is their only source of income for themselves and their families.

Land is a very important natural resource and it is at the heart of human social activity in Africa. The inequalities in women’s rights to land affect their self-esteem and potential contribution to the welfare of the society; yet they are the primary producers of food, the ones in charge of working the earth, maintaining seed stores, harvesting fruit, obtaining water and safeguarding the harvest.

Many communities in African countries rely on subsistent farming as their source of livelihood. Women comprise on average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, and over 50 per cent in parts of Asia and Africa.Research from the International Food Policy Research Institute has found that equalizing women’s status would lower child malnutrition by 13 percent (13.4 million children) in South Asia and by 3 percent (1.7 million children) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Experimental work suggests that increasing resources controlled by women promotes increased agricultural productivity.It is therefore a paradox that only 20 per cent of landowners globally are women.

The majority of women in developing countries face situations of discrimination at the hand of the national authorities and the international community. The European Union recognizes “in words” that women’s equal access to land helps guarantee the respect of fundamental human rights, including the rights to adequate food, shelter, non-discrimination and equality; the right not to be evicted; and the right to effective remedy, etc.

However big companies from the same EU and other wealthy countries are responsible of various human rights violations affecting women particularly in depriving them from accessing and using their land. This happens in the conclusion of large-scale land deals for commercial agriculture. The main goal of investment in land becomes then about providing food and energy for wealthier countries using the land and water of the poor. It stands to reason therefore that large-scale land deals exacerbate poor conditions of women access to land and ownership or further limit poor rural women’s opportunities for income generation.

Women have a right to equal access to all avenues to end poverty. Gender justice is not only a matter of social equity, but is also central to poverty reduction. While it is an established fact that the socio-cultural context of Africa undermines women’s right and access to land for food production and livelihood; large scale land acquisitions that are promoted in the name of “rural development” are extinguishing a candle that was already weak.

In Africa, a woman is a string that binds the family together. Therefore, land deals that take resources away from women do not only reduce the welfare of women but also participate in the disruption of the entire family system. It becomes imperative for private and international investors in Africa, who conclude land deals with local governments to consider the right of women to the land as an integral and essential part of their social responsibility to the community.

Furthermore, if they are genuinely motivated by sustainable development of communities, the profits of their investments are shared with those who are deprived to make way for their investments. Finally, African national Governments urgently need to bridge gaps between their existing programs that target gender equality and how they are applied in reality. The end of poverty cannot be achieved without ending gender-based discrimination.

http://aefjn.org/en/the-woman-at-the-heart-of-sustainable-development/

Priest campaigning for Brazil’s Amazon arrested for sex crimes and extortion

Karla Mendes

March 29, 2018 | RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Brazilian priest who risked his life campaigning for the landless has been arrested for sexual harassment and extortion but his lawyer said the charges are a ruse to stop his work.

Jose Amaro Lopes de Sousa, known as Padre Amaro, is regarded as the successor to American nun and environmental activist Dorothy Stang, who was murdered in 2005, an emblematic case for the many conflicts over land use in resource-rich Brazil.

A police statement said that Amaro was arrested on Tuesday in the city of Anapu in northern Para state, home to a vast Amazon rainforest reserve, following a court order and eight months of investigations.

“For us, there is no doubt that behind this investigation there is a ranchers’ conspiracy aiming to make Padre Amaro’s work unfeasible,” the priest’s lawyer, Jose Batista Afonso, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Wednesday.

“Padre Amaro personifies nun Dorothy’s work … He has been receiving death threats for a long time.”

Stang often criticized cattle ranchers for seizing land illegally and destroying the rainforest, highlighting tensions between farmers and environmentalists in the top global beef exporter. Local landowners were jailed for ordering her death.

The ranchers’ union in Anapu said they had nothing to do with Amaro’s arrest, adding that about 400 police reports, including videos and witness testimonies, support the charges.

“(Amaro) held meetings in the dead of night, encouraging people to invade land and then had an illegal trade in these invaded lands,” Silverio Albano Fernandes, head of Anapu’s ranchers union, said by phone.

“He was making profit from these sales as he kept a percentage. Everybody knows it here.”

London-based campaign group Global Witness said that Brazil was the world’s most dangerous nation for land rights activists in 2016, with about 50 people killed.

About a dozen land activists have been murdered since 2005 in Anapu, where Amaro is based, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), set up by the Catholic Church to combat violence against the rural poor.

Amaro’s opponents could not kill him because of the international outcry following Stang’s shooting, and because some are still in jail, said Afonso, who works for CPT.

“Of course, the way chosen to try to nullify the priest’s work would be different,” he said.

Afonso said he will file for habeas corpus, which requires Amaro be brought to court and released unless lawful grounds can be shown for his detention.

“We hope the arrest will be revoked,” he said.


Reporting by Karla Mendes; Editing by Katy Migiro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-landrights-arrests/priest-campaigning-for-brazils-amazon-arrested-for-sex-crimes-and-extortion-idUSKBN1H52H6

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For the displaced of Rio, ‘The Olympics has nothing to do with our story’

Washington Post
By Sally Jenkins

brazil
An estimated 60,000 people who lost homes to the Rio Games; this man refused to allow his to be one of them.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Just over there, the dolphin-backed Michael Phelps glides through another heat. Over here, a lone ramshackle favela house practically leans against the Olympic Park where Phelps swims. Just over there, Simone Biles does a breathtaking handspring. Over here, the sodium stadium lights glint on the scarred hardpan that was once a vibrant community before it was bulldozed to make room for the Rio Games.

Just over there, the International Broadcast Center rises like a monolith, while over here it casts a shadow over the listing sheet metal roof of Delmo de Oliveira’s favela house, which sits directly across the parking lot. Just over there, Katie Ledecky lashes through the water, but over here there is no crowd noise, just a young man playing guitar for a handful of residents who refused to be evicted even as the Games begin.

Just over there, International Olympic Committee members enjoy prime seating and dine on a per diem of $450 a day, while over here, the Brazilian minimum wage amounts to $228 a month, and nobody has a ticket to the Olympics, even though it’s just 50 yards away, “If they didn’t want us to stay here, I don’t imagine they’ll invite us inside,” says Maria Da Penha Macena, 51.

The extent to which the Olympic “movement” has become a destructive force, driven by an officialdom whose signature is indifference, can be seen just outside the Olympic Park fences, and I mean just outside. The Vila Autodromo favela was once a working-class neighborhood of 3,000 residents curling around a lagoon and the perimeter of the park. Now all that’s left is Olympic parking lot tarmac, raw dirt and 20 tiny white utilitarian cottages, built grudgingly by the city as a concession to a core of families who refused to leave even as their homes were demolished. For a while, some of them lived in converted shipping containers. One of the new cottages bears a sign: “Museum of the Evicted,” it reads.

Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN

stangOn February 12 we will commemorate 11 years since Sister Dorothy Stang´s murder. This past year, 2015, 6 of our farmers were also assassinated. There has been no due process of law in relation to their deaths. The police refuse to recognize their deaths as result of land conflict. So this year one of the peoples´goals is to secure the same treatment for their companions that Dorothy had…thus the context of the Poster. The farmers too are Dorothy.

Delayed indigenous land demarcation aggravate conflicts

Agencia Brazil

Alex Rodrigues reports from Agência Brasil Edited by: Denise Griesinger / Nira Foster

The Indigenous Missionary Council releases at CNBB, the headquarters of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, the report entitled Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil in 2013Elza Fiúza/Agência Brasil
The Indigenous Missionary Council releases at CNBB, the headquarters of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, the report entitled Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil in 2013Elza Fiúza/Agência Brasil

Chairman of the Indigenous Missionary Council (“Cimi”) Bishop Erwin Kräutler is charging governmental agencies with neglect towards the indigenous policy and the life of indigenous peoples. He believes that the interruption by the government of the procedures for the demarcation of the Indians’ lands aggravate conflicts in many states and intensifies violence and death threats against this population throughout the country. Continue reading Delayed indigenous land demarcation aggravate conflicts

In Nation’s Capital, It’s Native Americans and Ranchers vs. KXL ‘Death Warrant’

Common Dreams

‘Cowboy and Indian Alliance’ protest encampment on national mall culminates with ceremonial procession to ‘protect sacred land and water’
– Sarah Lazare, staff writer

"Reject and Protect" mobilization pictured Saturday, April 26 (Photo: Reject and Protect)
“Reject and Protect” mobilization pictured Saturday, April 26 (Photo: Reject and Protect)

Native American tribes, farmers and ranchers, and thousands of their allies flooded the National Mall Saturday with a ceremonial procession calling for President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Continue reading In Nation’s Capital, It’s Native Americans and Ranchers vs. KXL ‘Death Warrant’

Kenyans seeking land justice, 50 years later

Daily Nation

By PAUL MAINA MWANGI

Land lost through past injustices should be restored, the tenure system reformed to provide security for ownership as well as use for the disadvantaged”

Two important events in the past few weeks have re-ignited debate on land justice from the embers of this year’s election.

First was the release of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee report, and then last week’s acknowledgment by the British Government of torture and ill-treatment of Mau Mau freedom fighters.

The British colonial and protectorate administrations failed to recognise customary land tenure systems. By 1914, nearly two million hectares had been taken away from Africans. By 1960, European settlers occupied some three million hectares. Continue reading Kenyans seeking land justice, 50 years later