A new whistblower app against forced evictions in Kenya

An Aboriginal group in Kenya adopts the use of technological innovation to document forced evictions and efforts to resolve related conflicts.

Although forced evictions were not new in Kenya's Sengwer community in December 2018, the Kenya Forest Service launched a new campaign to evict families from the Embobut Forest – their ancestral home – resulting in thus conflicts and 341 houses burned. report by Amnesty International published in May this year.

The Sengwer community of Embobut Forest is now using "This Is My Backyard" (TIMBY), a set of interconnected digital tools, to document and revive negotiations to resolve land conflicts.

"Using a collaborative approach to monitor illegal forestry, TIMBY application will help both the Sengwer [community] and the Kenyan Forest Service to document the threats to the forest, "says Amy Goldman, CEO of GHR Foundation, a US-based organization that promotes global development, education and health through philanthropy. "[This is] an effort in which their goals and interests are aligned, helping to improve relationships and build trust. "

Earlier this month (October 1, 2018), TIMBY received nearly US $ 200,000 to be one of the top five ideas for the 2018 BridgeBuilder Challenge organized by the GHR Foundation in collaboration with OpenIDEO, an organization that uses the power of crowdsourcing to solve global problems.

TIMBY and the other four winners were selected from more than 675 global submissions, says the GHR Foundation.

Through the new TIMBY is used to equip the Sengwer indigenous community and the Kenyan government create a digital reporting system to document issues such as forced evictions, compensation, consultation meetings and durability from the Embobut Forest.

According to Anjali Nayar, founder of TIMBY, the idea of ​​the tool was raised in December 2011 during her first trip to Liberia, but it was in 2012 that her development began.

"At that time, I was perfectly aware that most of the stories that came to me (even as a journalist in the area) were damaged," Nayar said.

"Over time, we have also created many features, including maps on phones, a complaints system to record problems that need to be answered, and more narration feature, "said Nayar.

Although technology and innovation can not solve problems alone, they can help make systems such as evidence (collection) more efficient. "Technology can help guide the conversation to find out if something is happening and how to fix it. It can also help keep groups in the field safe with encryption and security alerts when something goes wrong, "said Nayar.

Justin Kenrick, senior policy adviser to Forest Peoples Program, says the app deployed in Kenya is a way for civil society actors to support the land rights of communities.

"TIMBY contributes to the new scientific approach to forestry conservation, which does not consist in forcing people to leave their ancestral lands under fire, but to recognize the rights of the ancestral inhabitants of the forests. knowledge, skills and commitment to protecting their forest lands, "says Kenrick.

Elias Kimaiyo, leader of the Sengwer community who uses the app – exhorts policy creators adopt this new digital tool that will not only help monitor human rights violations, but also monitor land use in general.

Nancy Kiplimo, who was born and raised in the Embobut Forest, applauded the tool and said it could help her return to her birthplace before being deported and destroying their property.

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