OPDP strengthens capacities of Africa’s IPs rights advocates

Wednesday, 13th December 2017

ILC Africa member, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP) held a workshop in Arusha, Tanzania on October 2-4 to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) organisations in Africa to advocate for the implementation of Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) mechanisms and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

OPDP hosted the workshop in collaboration with Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT). The International Land Coalition (ILC) principally funded the workshop, while a Land is Life grant sponsored women IPs activists to the event.

More than 50 participants from 10 countries representing IPs organisations, development partners and government agencies from East Africa, West Africa and Central Africa were part of the occasion. The workshop encouraged discussions on ILC’s fifth Commitment Based Initiative (CBI 5). It discussed ABS concepts and guidelines and its need within indigenous communities in the continent. Furthermore, delegates articulated African perspectives on indigeinity, human rights and development in Africa.

Extra focus was also put on regional mechanisms for ABS. Delegates examined the African Union strategic guidelines for the coordinated implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilisation, application of the ABS and the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in Africa as well as the role of IP organisations and communities in developing ABS/FPIC protocol through community protocols.

Additionally, participants explored gaps and areas of conflicts for ABS between IP communities, the State and investors. Participants also presented respective country perspectives on policy and legislative framework on ABS as well as their experiences in its application. A learning exchange visit took delegates to Selela village in the district of Monduli in Nothern Tanzania where UCRT secured the land rights of the Maasai through an innovative model of issuing Certificate of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCRO). A process through which the community becomes a collective owner of the land and determines its use.

In his opening remarks, OPDP’s Executive Director Daniel Kobei said the workshop aligned with the ILC’s CBI 5, which focuses on securing territorial rights for the IPs.

He said the discussions were very critical to building the capacity of the IPs towards establishing locally based mechanisms for effecting ABS and ensuring communities benefit and progress. “With increasing discovery of resources especially in the lands and territories home to IPs, there is growing interest by many actors, including the government, to use these resources.

Communities require to be capacity built to enable them to participate in meaningful consultation and decision regarding resources within the community lands and territories,” he said “The Training on ABS and FPIC will help local and indigenous peoples’ communities, private sector companies and governments ensure compliance with the Bonn Guidelines and ABS requirements under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).”

[WATCH] Please click here to watch and listen to Mr Kobei’s full presentation.

Gaps on ABS and FPIC implementation

In exploring gaps and areas of conflicts for ABS between the IP communities, the State and the investors; Shadrack Omondi, ILC Africa Steering Committee Member and Executive Director of the Resource Conflict Institute (RECONCILE), a member of ILC noted that when government development priorities differ from those of the communities, grassroot economies stagnate and the locals suffer the consequences.

“Robustness (on advocating for ABS/FPIC implementation) at the international level defers from that at the country level. There is some kind of a loose link between the two and that needs to concern IPs, practitioners and the civil society,” he said. There must be strong structures for implementation of ABS and FPIC to be successful and beneficial to the community, Omondi stated.

[WATCH] His discussion on the subject is available here.

Country-level discussions Representatives of IPs organisations from Cameroon, Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Burundi, South Africa and Sudan shared country-level perspectives. They discussed about the Nagoya Protocol and outlined some challenges in implementing it.

Lessons and way forward

At the end of the workshop, participants identified key focus areas. For example they said mapping genetic resources; establishing national action plans and community friendly laws as well as strengthening public participation and encouraging land reforms at the country-level could be a game changer. Participants liked the idea of sharing knowledge with their peers. The exercise of exchanging country-level experiences on the status of implementation of ABS and FPIC and the rights of IPs greatly increased the knowledge of advocates. They learnt about appropriate approaches to apply in campaigning for IPs social justice. Delegates recommended establishing an ABS policy framework to ensure communities benefit from wealth generated from natural resources in their localities.

Credits: Article was submitted by the OPDP communications team. Photo credit, OPDP.