Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project was founded at the height of both human and land rights violations against the Ogiek/Ndorobo community of Chepkitale. This was after the gazettement of their trust land into a game reserve in 2000 and what followed were an escalation of harassments, evictions, and human rights violations. The community had no political space to pursue their rights and the situation was getting worse.
The founders, led by Prof. Johnson Changeiywo, volunteered their time and material to support the organization fully in the first ten years before it managed to get support from well-wishers.
It is also worth noting that the beginning of 2000 provided an opportunity to communities in Kenya like the Ogiek of Mt. Elgon, to engage in the constitution making processes where CIPDP supported the community to participate. This provided an opportunity to the organization to network with other like-minded communities, organizations and individuals in the process finding long term partnership that exist to date.
Among the communities with similar land dispossession whose lands had been mostly converted to protected areas and the remaining parceled out to individuals from more influential communities were the Yaaku of Mukogodo Forest, Awer of Boni Forest, Sanye, Ogiek of Mau Forest and the Sengwer community of Cherang’any Hills. This was in addition to the Maasai Pastoralists, whose land rights claims resonated well with these forest indigenous communities.
After the promulgation of the constitution, the organization participated in the process of enactment of the community land Act 2016, which is now in process of enactment.
In addressing children’s rightsto access education, the organization enabled the community to register primary schools in Chepkitale and has supported early childhood development education (ECDE), through development of ECDE learning materials, construction of temporary structures for classrooms and training of ECDE teachers. The organization has an ambition of developing learning materials in mother tongue.
Through advocacy, the organization has enabled provisions of health services in Chepkitale by providing opportunity for the community to advocate for the construction and equipping Laboot and Toboo dispensaries by the county government of Bungoma.
CIPDP has also mobilized women through capacity building and providing opportunities to advocate the rights of the community with a vision “that a community with empowered women becomes an empowered community”. Women have been supported by the organization in their role as custodians of the community’s culture through support to women-led cultural groups such as the Kilaalmet women group, Kimoson women group and Kapsoreey women group.
Noting that Mt. Elgon region has in many cases been a victim of violence, the organization came up with a community radio (TulwoobKoony Radio) whose main aim is to educate, inform and entertain the people of Mt. Elgon region so that an information vacuum cannot be created, and the people of Mt. Elgon will be fully informed.
CIPDP has also been the champion of a rights-based approach to conservation whereby communities are supported to continue being custodians of the environment as opposed to being seen as a threat. It is envisaged that the community radio will play a big role in achieving this objective.
CIPDP has also developed a community resource Centre at Laboot. This is where the community meets, exchanges ideas and enjoy their own company and interact with visitors, while enjoying their cultural songs. It is where the community and their elders meet to discuss and make decisions on all aspects that affect their lives, now and in the future.
In all, the organization is pursuing a holistic socio-economic development of the Ogiek community and expanding to the neighboring communities in Mt. Elgon.