Land & Resource Rules within the Chepkitale Community Land Area

The Ogiek have lived in their ancestral lands, Chepkitale, governed and bound by their traditions being the unwritten law. This is what is captured in this document in the simplest language possible.

This is a product of the community, by the community. It has been written with all input coming from the community and agreed on and endorsed by the community. It brings a governance structure relevant to the community today as it has been for centuries. The acknowledgement of the age old traditional boundaries of the three Sub-nations: Kabeiywa, Keberer and Chebokos is just one of them. Each sub-nation (pororyeet) had several clans and ownership of land was according to these territorial sub-nation boundaries.

You cannot own land outside your sub nation territory but you can be allowed to settle, graze your livestock and hang beehives after getting permission from host clan members.

The daily activities and livelihoods of the Ogiek community are anchored on three main pillars; “cow (Teeta), meat (wildgame) and honey (mweengeet)”.

Historically, the age-sets of Riimiriim and Suumoynen, depended on hunting and honey. Suumoyneen age-set, emphasized on bee-keeping and exchanged honey with sheep from the Pokot community. They had no cattle. It was believed that raiders took away all the livestock they
had at that time.

The age-sets that followed them (Ndatwayeek) who exchanged honey, and shields made from buffalo hides and, to acquired cattle from the Komu (Wagishu) who live in the Eastern side of Uganda.

Muchungu, Korongoro and Pkoimet age-sets, mentioned that at their youth, the community was very wealthy. One elder in this age-set at one of the community meetings, Mzee Ndiema Soriin, mentioned that “if it were not for the raids by our neighbors, and forceful evictions to Chepyuk, we would be very rich”.

As can be seen to a very large extend the bylaws of the community at one hand protects the livelihoods of the community and in the other protects the environment. Simply put, man survives on nature and nature survives on man. This is sustainable. Elders exercised unwritten bylaws and regulations for centuries that ensured sustainable use of the natural resources at their disposal. In other words these regulations are adhered to, there is plenty of honey, pasture, and harmony between the community and the environment.


Below are our rules for using lands and resources in our Community Lands. The penalties for breaking the Land & Resource Rules are given at the end of the Rules.


Grazing areas are divided into zones: the open moorland or glades are used during the wet season and the forest zones, conserved for use during dry seasons. Part of the later is reserved and to only be used on agreement of the whole community. The community members follow set up grazing areas/zone as it used to be. These zones are protected by all. Livestock graze together in the field – “Tuytoos tukaa echeeiyta”

The main livestock among the Ogiek of Chepkitale are: Cows, sheep and goats. Goats are known to lift the status of poor people in the community, especially when one losses all cows. But when the numbers of goats go up, there is subsequent drop in honey and disappearance of certain plants which are of medicinal value and sources of fruits. In many cases, goats are given first priority when one wants to buy cereals or in exchange for cows.

General Regulations

(i) Each village or a group of villages to identify, and protect local grazing zones

(ii) No human settlement will be allowed in grazing zones. These zones should be protected by all through following of these rules
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(iii) No encroachment into the set up grazing zones
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(iv) Any person moving to a new area should get permission from the VC so that he is shown specific place set aside for habitation, away from the grazing zones.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(v) No one is allowed to burn grazing zones anyhow, and the users of that zone should prevent any stray fire.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii) or to B(iv)

(vi) However, fire is only allowed at the permission of elders, with strict monitoring on the direction of wind. It is only done just before the rains. This kind of fire was set on thickets (Sunyoo) and should be managed properly for the purpose of controlling cattle pests and diseases, to kill kutwo moswo-produced sore or bitter milk eaten by cows and for regeneration of pasture.

(vii) The villagers should have in place regulations and or norms for controlling and protecting their zones.-Responsibility for all

(viii) Strangers (saboyiik) are not allowed to enter, graze or use any resource within the grazing zones. If they are employed as caretakers, their track records should be made available from their origin.
PENALTY:- B(iii)-to the person hiding the stranger

(ix) No intruder (non-Ogiek) should be found roaming carelessly on any grazing zones.
PENALTY:-should be arrested and taken to the authority for questioning B(vi) is applied.

(x) Harvesting of grass, leaves, or trees that are found within any grazing area is prohibited, except for domestic use by the local villagers of that area, given with permission of the authority.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(xi) No tilling in grazing areas
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(xii) No traps in grazing areas
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(xiii) No movement of livestock when there is outbreak of diseases
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)


We have various types of honey that are defined according to where they are found:-
(a) honey from hollow parts of a standing or fallen trees (boondit);
(b) honey made by stingless bees on trees (kimeyeet)
(c) honey from local made beehive (mwengeet);
(d) honey made underground by stingless bees (chebng’enyoonteet)
(e) Honey made by tinny bee (Ptiltiit),
(f) Honey made from hollow rock (baanaweet).

Certain tree species produce honey with medicinal value. By tasting honey one can easily determine its source e.g. from specific area and tree e.g. Kweeleet, seekertiit etc.

Dead logs of the following trees are suitable for making beehives:- Borooweet, Torokweet (cedar), siteteet, Sapteet (podo), stotweet, Seekertiit.

Identified beekeeping zoness should follow certain arrangement – Rorokiis as identified by the villagers. We have areas for local made beehives and bondiitek.

Certain beehives are not harvested during dry spells especially in areas
with heavy content of flammable matter (Sunyeet).

Absence of certain moving bees (Kaburineek) is an indicator of drop in
honey harvesting and this should be monitored very keenly and reported.

General Regulations

(i) Each village to locate and have a bee keeping zone.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(iii)

(ii) Local beehives to be made from dead woods only, except those made from bamboos.

(iii) Beehives should be covered by dead backs of cedar (keterweet) or dried fallen bamboo covers (bekeek).

(iv) Harvesting of honey is done at the beginning of a rainy season (Kateryech roobta), during the months of March and April, after getting declaration from the CGC.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B(ii)

(v) Before harvesting, one should carry some water and clear any flammable matter at the foot of the tree.
PENALTY:-B(i) or B(ii)

(vi) Any person making fire carelessly will be traced and made responsible for the consequences.
PENALTY:- B(ii) or B (iii)

(vii) No one is allowed to anchor a beehive on a zone (Chaantiit) that is not his.
PENALTY:- B(i), the offender surrenders the beehive and
the beehive is removed and a local replaces with his.

(viii) Cutting down of any tree with bees, is prohibited. If one cuts the tree he will be cursed.
PENALTY:- B(ii) or B (iii). Please note that, if the tree was cut down for a different purpose and found to be having honey, the offender speaks to the tree for forgiveness so that the curse does not pass to him.

(ix) Get authority from the AC before harvesting wild honey from a tree or rock.
PENALTY:-B(i) or B(iii)

(x) Stealing honey from someone’s beehive, is prohibited.
PENALTY:-B(i) or the offender is tied next to the beehive and left for some time.

(xi) In unavoidable circumstance, where one has to harvest honey without permission from the owner, one must use a traditional indicator. Remove little honey (Kiptabaanuut) and put some grass on it to show that you were hungry.

(xii) Unreachable tall trees with bees should never be harvested for they are reserves for reproduction.
PENALTY:-B(i) or B(iii)

(xiii) No one is allowed to carry, destroy a beehive that is not his.
PENALTY:-B(i) or B(iii)

(xiv) No one is allowed to set intentional fire to any beekeeping zone
PENALTY:- B(ii) or B (iv)

(xv) Harvest honey from beehives only. Honey found on trees (Boniteek) to be reserved for production of bees.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B (ii)

(xvi) Any person going to harvest should carry the traditional honey skin bag (Samburtoo)
PENALTY:- B(i) or B (iii)

(xvii) Harvesting honey at night is prohibited
PENALTY:-B(i) or B(iii)

(xviii)A permit to be issued for selling honey
PENALTY:-B(i) or B(iii)


The community use certain types of mushrooms species, vegetables:- kilayila, kisocheet, bamboo shoots (ileek) ,terereek, insects etc

General Regulations

(i) No one is allowed to destroy, or cut down a parent tree or shrub which is a source of fruits.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(ii) Browsers (Goats) should not be allowed to destroy such trees and shrubs. Goats are medicinal (Kesorore sakityeek, milk is medicinal)

(iii) No household is allowed to own more than 20 goats.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (iii)

(iv) Poaching of wild game is prohibited.
PENALTY:-B (iii)

(v) Trapping of wild animals including birds of any type is not allowed
PENALTY:-B (iii)

(vi) Selective hunting is only allowed under permission of the governing council, for specified reasons with consultation.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(vii) A moratorium of 5 years’ period is to be considered for (vi) above.
PENALTY:-B (ii) or B (iv)

(viii) Endangered species like Sabayanteet, Sikweet,Chebkeyisheet, Kipenyeet….should be replaced and protected by all.
PENALTY:-B (ii) or B (iv)

(ix) Youth are allowed to shoot rats in the field as training exercise, using bow and arrows.

(x) It is a taboo (Kekiree) to eat wild meat and drink milk in the same meal, and this should be respected. Every wild animal had a given duration of taking milk. 


The traditional knowledge and medicinal plants found in the community’s land remain the property of all community members. The community depends on parts of these tree species and plant species, for their medicinal value.

After a sick person heals from a disease treated using traditional medicine, he or she may ask the healer to show him or her, the medicine (King’etyii). Traditional procedures are done for this as required. It is believed that when one uses a tree substance for healing without the blessing of the healer that medicine will not work.

Traditional medicine men and women, both local and foreign (Soboyiik), should have permits or identity letters confirming their work.

General Regulations

(i) No traditional medicine man and woman, whether local or nonlocal, will be allowed to work without a document to prove they are permitted to undertake their work. There will be a permit for this work issued by COGC.

(ii) Non-local medicine men and women should be assisted by the local ones to pick the medicine they require as the tradition so requires.

(iii) No one is allowed to trade on any medicinal herbs, leaves, roots, barks, etc
PENALTY:- B(i) and his license withdrawn

(iv) Any medicinal tree and plant should not be wholly uprooted.
PENALTY:- B(i)or B(iii) and his license withdrawn

(v) Down payment for treatment in form of chebrewoonteet should be negotiable and affordable for all.

(vi) Removing of medicinal barks from tree trunk or branch, should only be peeled off at the foot of the tree, using acceptable tools and the naked part covered with wet soil.
PENALTY:- B(i) and his license withdrawn

(vii) Areas that are identified to have trees and plants with medicinal value should be protected by all.

(viii) Misuse or abuse of any medicinal tree or plant is prohibited.

(ix) Medicine men and women have no boundary; they treat all seeking their help irrespective of their background.

(x) Medicine men should be responsible and treat the patient fully.

(xi) Traditional knowledge should not be sold


Every village member depends on the firewood for making food, warming and lighting

General Regulations

(i) No one is allowed to commercialize firewood and sell or transport to other areas outside Chepkitale.
PENALTY:- B(i) and returns the firewood

(ii) No one is allowed to cut down a growing or alive tree for
PENALTY:- B(i) or B (ii) or B (iii)

(iii) Villagers should use naturally fallen trees as a source of firewood.
PENALTY:- B(i) or B (ii)

(iv) Dried branches of shrubs may be used to supplement the firewood.

(v) Areas identified to be sources of firewood should be protected from any stray fire.

(vi) Village authority to come up with restrictions to ensure full control of misuse of firewood.
PENALTY:- Summoned before the Governing Council

(vii) Charcoal burning is prohibited.
PENALTY:-B(i) and B(iv)

(viii) No intruder/stranger is allowed to burn charcoal or collects firewood from Chepkitale.


Settlement sites are identified away from the grazing zones. Huts are constructed in Sirimta nyebo tiriiyeet (not in the open glades).

Previous settlement areas are maintained as a way of restoring and maintaining grazing areas.

Forest areas are reserved for preserving grass during dry season. On the wet seasons, the livestock are confined on open glades.

Traditional huts have parts made from Tolochiik (main branched poles), Chungureyweek, Mireiyweek, taranyook (beams).

General Regulations

(i) Each village to identify settlement zone separate from the grazing areas, in consultation with the neighboring villages.

(ii) No one is allowed to destroy, pull down, or burn a traditional hut, except for the purpose of reuse by the owner.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (iii)

(iii) Unnecessary construction of new huts should be avoided.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (iii)

(iv) One should seek permission from VC both where he is going to and to and where he is coming from, when relocating.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (iii)

[Note-a clearance book kept by the village authority that contains certain specific details- reason for moving,

(v) Before constructing a hut(s), every household should dig a pit latrine.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (iii)

(vi) Setting up of permanent structures to be done on designated areas.

(vii) A till area with a maximum area of 10 meters by 10 meters per homestead (Kaptirokuut) is allowed strictly for food, gourd, tobacco all for domestic consumption
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (iii) or B(v)


The community had sacred sites like shallow caves (kochongeet) and deep caves (kebeen) and Kaabchaay. Some shallow caves houses areek kaab psaramisheek, and are avoided. Kapkoros are sites that blessings were offered.

Caves like Kibalo, koboywo, Pkores and others are believed to have caused disappearance of calves, and are not allowed for settlement. Caves that collapse and kill people are also considered sacred. Certain caves were used for Muumeek and the parties that participated avoid these caves.

Cleansing ceremony carried by relatives of the people who died in caves, are done for these people to enter these sites.

General Regulations

(i) Sacred sites should be protected and restricted.
(ii) The villagers to identify these sites.


Trees play an integral part of the lives of the Ogiek. Elders advice AS FOLLOWS “make use of the tree and do not waste”

General Regulations

a) Poles /Thatching grass

(i) No commercialization of thatching grass or Poles.
PENALTY:-B (ii) or B (iv)

(ii) No transportation of the same outside Chepkitale.
PENALTY:- B (iv)

(iii) Dead woods should be used for construction of huts.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(iv) The use of mature trees for construction, rather cutting young growing one.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(v) Use of powered machines like power saws is prohibited in Chepkitale.
PENALTY:- B (iv)

(vi) Pulling down of a constructed hut should be avoided.

(vii) Bamboos should be used for roofing structures only, not for making walls or fences.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(viii) Use dead woods to construct fences.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(ix) No selling of abandoned huts
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(x) Children are not allowed to walk or carry any sharp objects e.g Pangas, Axes, Jembes etc.

If found, the item is confiscated and the child warned.
Responsibilty:- every parent to responsible and punish children who cause destruction.

(xi) Each child to have only one walking stick when taking care of the cattle. When he loses it, he is punished

(xii) All members of the community to be vigilant on any destruction of forest products, and report to the Governing Council.

(xiii) Any engagement that pertain forest products in Chepkitale should involve the community.

(i) No one is allowed to burn charcoal or logging of timber.
PENALTY:- B (iv)

(ii) No stranger/intruder should be allowed to burn charcoal and perform timber logging within Chepkitale.

b) Extraction of minerals

(i) Extraction of coloured stones, sand, soil, and other substances like droppings of bats, elephant dung, is prohibited.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(ii)Extraction of salt licks, sulphur (lekebeet) should not be commercialized or sold to outside Chepkitale.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

c) Wildlife

Wild game has cultural value to the Ogiek. Every clan has a totem in form of a wild animal or bird. The respect these animals are accorded is symbolic and has a much wider perspective, providing security and preserving the wildlife.

(i) Hunting wild animals for traditional purposes should be controlled.

(ii)Elephant should never be killed.
PENALTY:-B (ii) or B (iii)

(iii) Exceptional services contributed by the community members should be given recognition (Choboosheet) and rewarded.
Elders to award the best in community service and protection of environment.

d) Protection of water sources

Availability of clean water is a right for all community members. Water source points and considered sacred and protected at all time.

(i) Water catchment areas to be rehabilitated and protected.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(ii)Water troughs should be constructed to harness and store water for dry seasons.

(iii) No settlement is allowed within a radius of 200 m around a water source.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(iv) Foot paths and cattle paths should not be allowed to cross near water source.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(v) All water sources should be away from any waste disposal sites
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(vi) Washing and bathing at the river is prohibited. Carry the water away from the river and use.

e) Disposal of non biodegradable substances

(i) All plastic containers, polythene papers, old clothing and any unbiodegradable materials should be disposed safely. During environmental day all such materials are collected and disposed off, or recycled.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B (ii)

(ii) Washing of clothes and bathing should be taken at home.

8.0 Other general rules

(i) Criminal offences committed within or outside Chepkitale, the offender is arrested and handed-over to the authority.

(ii) No one should hide any criminal.

(iii) All business men selling and buying livestock should be given permits and elders should have a list of their names.
PENALTY:-B (i) or B(v)

(iv) Stealing or possession of stolen Livestock is prohibited.
PENALTY:-B (i) or (iii) or (v)

(v) No parent or guardian should deny school going child access to education.
PENALTY:-B (i) or (ii) or (iii) or (v)

(vi) Brewing of beer of any type is prohibited
PENALTY:-B (i) or (ii) or (iii) or (v)

(vii) Character assassination of any member of the community by another is prohibited.
PENALTY:-B (i) or (ii) or (iii) or (v)

(viii) Areas to choose and agree on the best type of bull(s) for breeding.

(ix) Bulls belonging to neighbors should not be moved or locked out at night.

(x) The best chosen bull should not be sold or moved out without informing the neighbors


In the unlikely situation where a member of the community fails to abide by these bylaws, they will be summoned to appear before the villagers or the elected elders in the traditional consultation areas (kiroor). First time offenders who admit and plead for forgiveness are warned (kebiree sokoo), and those who defy pay fines (kyome sookeet).

The following in general will apply:-

(i) Warning (Biree sokoo)- This warning is given to those who admit and plead for forgiveness. The offender is taken before the villagers or elders and cautioned not to repeat the offence. If he or she repeats, the next steps are taken.

(ii) Whipped (Keebaas). This is applied to young people who have committed offence that is for community interest or not listening to their parents. Whipping is only permitted when the parents agree.

(iii) Fine (kyomee sokeet) – This is a form of punishment where the offender, when proved guilty, is asked to give a sheep, goat or a beehive for light offences or a bull for heavy offences. The elders through COGC will make recommendations on how the fine will be used and in a public meeting with at least half of the members of the community in attendance will make decision on what the fine will be used for. In some cases, when the offender is unable to pay the above, he or she will be given some work in form of community service. In both cases the offender will have to willfully and in public sign a note showing remorse and acceptance of the offence and be issued with receipt.

(iv) Curses. This is used in extreme cases e.g close water (Keekeer beeko). This for example will work in a case where a serious offence has happened and no one knows the culprit or total disobedience of community’s norms e.g. a man attending women only ceremonies against their will.

(v) Criminal cases e.g. capital offences, assault, rape and those who defy these bylaws will be handed over to authorities and face charges before a court of law.