World Bank-Backed Projects Threaten Indigenous Communities’ Ways of Life

Former World Bank official says bank shut down his efforts to defend rights of tribal group in Kenya

(Oct 26th 2015):  The convoy of vehicles rumbled into western Kenya’s Cherangani Hills, a region of thick forests and bitter land conflicts. Inside the caravan: a delegation of World Bank and Kenyan officials accompanied by armed forest rangers.

Joseph Kilimo Chebet, father of five, standing next to the charred remains of his home in Kenya.

Joseph Kilimo Chebet, father of five, standing next to the charred remains of his home. He and other Sengwer said Kenya Forest Service officers had set it afire hours before. Photo: Tony Karumba / GroundTruth

The group was investigating allegations that the Kenya Forest Service was using a World Bank-backed conservation project to bankroll a wave of evictions targeting the Sengwer, a hunter-gatherer tribe that says it has lived in these forests for centuries.

Navin Rai, the World Bank’s top advisor at the time on issues relating to indigenous peoples, was among the officials who inspected the charred ruins of mud-and-thatch huts that tribe members said had been burned by forest rangers who considered the Sengwer to be squatters occupying the land illegally.

Source: Evicted and Abandoned – International Consortium of Investigative Journalists