IPF Background

The Indigenous Peoples Foundation was established in 2012 out of a desire to promote the participation and engagement of indigenous and marginalized groups in nation decision making processes in order to ensure that their cultural concerns and rights are incorporated in development and other national policies.

IPF defines Indigenous Peoples in line with the definition of marginalised communities as provided for by Article 260 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK 2010) thus:
The existence and survival of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) continues to take place with the influences of the dominant groups that surround them, yet a few of Kenya’s IPs still maintain strong traditional ways of life, as evident in their modes of livelihood, spiritual beliefs, dress, artifacts, music, education, language, food, and cultural practices.  However, the survival of most indigenous groups in Kenya is under severe threat due to overt acts of cultural genocide and ecocide.

Kenya's ambition is to become a newly industrialized, 'middle-income country by the year 2030.' To achieve this goal, the government has designated series of flagship programmes (known as Vision 2030), a number of them for areas occupied by Indigenous peoples. These mega-projects, while having the potential to engender growth, have harmful impacts on the livelihoods and cultures of indigenous peoples, threatening not only their identities but also their very survival. The Lamu Port Project which was funded by the US government is one of the flagship projects of the Vision 2030 that when completed will result to displacement of IPs from their ancestral territories, destruction of local culture, loss of bio diversity and livelihood means amongst other negative impacts.

The Kenyan government's approach to development is to pursue quick economic gains for the majority, at the expense of prior consultation and participation of minority, marginalized and indigenous communities. This approach has exacerbated inequalities between and within communities, displaced communities from land traditionally held by them, and often intensified the poverty and vulnerability of indigenous communities. As the government works hard to augment her economic growth, and corporations continue to search for resources, the land, and subsequently the way of life of Kenya’s indigenous peoples continues to be endangered.

Indigenous Peoples have a special relation to and use of their traditional land which has a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples. They hold their own diverse concepts of development, based on their traditional values, visions, needs and priorities. Unfortunately, dominant development paradigms in Kenya stressing the importance of economic growth through capital intensive and machine-intensive technology have often led to the destruction of indigenous peoples cultural, spiritual, social, economic, and political systems. It has also had a negative effect on their education, health, and knowledge systems. Loss of control over indigenous peoples’ traditional lands, territories and natural resources in Kenya continues to impact negatively on their quest for survival.

We believe in the preamble of the CoK 2010 which states that we should be “PROUD of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity” and in the CoK 2010 provisions promoting the rights of IPs to celebrate their culture as a right amongst other human rights and for the obligation upon the state to protect and promote these IP rights. We believe that societies and cultural practices must exist in accordance with natural law and vice versa in any democratic state. We also believe that cultural diversity is as essential as biological diversity to maintaining sustainable societies. We support initiatives that blend indigenous knowledge systems with modern technologies for sustainable natural resource management.

Our Purpose

With input from knowledgeable members of the communities to whom we serve, we define and implement indigenous peoples priorities for economic, social and cultural development and environmental protection, based on their traditional cultures, knowledge and practices, and the implementation of their inherent right to self-determination.