On 30th November, Natural Justice hosted participants and partners of the African BCP Initiative in Nairobi. Members of the Initiative presented on their Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) development workplans and implementation and members and partners offered feedback on ensuring meaningful BCPs. Throughout the day the key themes that emerged were the importance of good process in preparing BCPs and ideas for increasing the practical uses of BCPs.
Members represented a wide range of communities. The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) described the work of two communities in Ghana who are preparing BCPs to protect the Shea Tree and coastal sacred groves. Local organizations working with pastoralist communities in Ilkesumeti and Kivulini, Kenya, shared their aims, which primarily address issues of land security, and the process through which they are engaging with their respective communities to ensure community ownership of the BCPs. Save Lamu presented on the BCP they are developing to enable local communities in Lamu to assert their rights as the Kenyan government prepares to build a major port in Lamu without any meaningful community consultation. MELCA Ethiopia illustrated the BCP being prepared with communities in Sheka Forest to consolidate their land rights and assert their traditional practices of conserving the forest. Representatives from the Laikipia Abandoned Lands Project and the USAID SECURE Project shared successes in community protection of land rights and developments in Kenyan law relevant to communities.
The meeting closed with a discussion of the meaning of good process in BCP development, which focused on the importance of full and effective community engagement in each step of the process. It was emphasised that an inclusive process will increase the usefulness of the BCP in asserting community rights. Participants also expressed their desire to build and deepen linkages between communities with BCPs to share ideas and broaden the recognition of BCPs by states and other actors as legitimate vehicles of community self-assertion.