The Endorois Community Launch their Biocultural Community Protocol

By Cicilia Githaiga, Rose Birgen, and Winnie Changwony  9 September 2019

A special event was held for the launch of the Endorois Biocultural Community Protocol.

On 31 August 2019, Natural Justice joined the Endorois community in a special event to launch their Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP). The Endorois are a minority and marginalized ethnic group from Baringo County, Kenya. 

The BCP is a guide to and a negotiation tool for the community to engage with external stakeholders, particularly where they intend to access and utilize Endorois resources. The BCP will go a long way in ensuring the protection and conservation of the community’s resources, cultures, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions in the interests of the future generation. 

Moving forward, the BCP will ensure legally-sound procedures stipulated in national and international frameworks, including Prior Informed Consent (PIC), are followed in the process when accessing and utilizing the Endorois community’s resources. 

The Endorois are eager to achieve constructive and proactive responses to threats and opportunities posed by land and resource development, conservation, research and other legal and policy frameworks – and are better positioned to do so due to the drafting of the BCP.

The launch was convened by the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC) at their Cultural Centre in Loboi near Lake Bogoria. The community, which boasts unique ethnic, traditional, cultural and religious diversity, came together to celebrate this landmark achievement.   

The launch was graced by the Governor of Baringo County, Hon. Stanley Kiptis alongside the Chief Executive Officer Devolution, Ms. Scholar Kimeli, Chief Officer Mr. John Kidogo and Chief Executive Officer Tourism and Environment Dr. Maurine Rotich, in a show of political goodwill and solidarity. Other people in attendance were the Chair of the Board of the Endorois Welfare Council, Mr. Eric Kimalit, the Vice-Chair Ms. Fridah Lotuya, women representative Pauline Korir and the youth representative Daniel Tuitoek. 

The EWC secretariat was represented by, among others, its Executive Director, Mr. Wilson Kipkazi and Programme Officer, Mr. Paul Chepsoi. Natural Justice was represented by Cicilia Githaiga, Rose Birgen, Sabrina Nick, and Winnie Changwony.

The launch marked over 3 years of Natural Justice’s support and engagement with the Endorois community. It also marked a successful journey of tireless effort, consultations and technical input culminating in a document that will regularise, protect and preserve the community’s biological, genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. 

Natural Justice, working closely with EWC, conducted more than 30 site visits in 17 locations occupied by the Endorois people. Approximately 600 people had been involved in the initial capacity-building on the BCP. Subsequent technical and consultative meetings, involving at least 2,000 community members, were held during the drafting period.

During the launch, the importance of the BCP to the community was highlighted, a document that will have benefits not just for the current but also future generations of the Endorois community. 

The launch of the BCP was only possible due to the relentless efforts of the community, experts, and organizations who offered financial and technical support and guidance in the process. Natural Justice was lauded for its technical contribution, legal support, and financial assistance. Other organizations that contributed to the success of the BCP are GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur international Zussamenarbeit) and the ABS Capacity Development Initiative (ABSI), who offered financial support.

At the launch, the highlights were traditional dances to showcase Endorois culture to the attendees, speeches given by local government representatives, community partners and key community members. In his speech, the Governor, the Hon. Stanley Kiptis congratulated the Endorois community on the successful development of the BCP. He further thanked Natural Justice and other partners for their persistent support to the Endorois community. He challenged other local communities in Baringo County to also think of innovative ways of ensuring sustainable biodiversity resource management and governance to reverse the climate crisis and encouraged them to use their culture to deal with threats to their resources. 

The representative of the Chair of the Endorois Welfare Council, Mr. Eric Kimalit, stated that the launch was a landmark event for his community. He appreciated Natural Justice for building their capacity on progressive customary, national and international law, which is what will support their access to biological resources as illustrated in the BCP. 

He acknowledged the collective effort of all members of his community. Ms. Cicilia Githaiga of Natural Justice advised that following the launch of the BCP, their cooperation with the community should continue. She highlighted the need for continued awareness of various aspects of the BCP to enable them to implement it. She then encouraged other communities to prepare their governance structures, to enable them to engage with stakeholders who approach the community for various purposes.

The Endorois Welfare Council will be releasing the BCP soon and NJ will share it on our website as soon as it’s available.

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