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Private development in Kiambu Forest near Nairobi, Kenya

Business developers have been illegally lang-grabbing parts of the Kiambu Forest while terrorizing any opposition. Joannah Stutchbury was likely killed for winning a court case evicting one of the developers, Agropack Limited


The Kiambu Forest is on the outskirts of Nairobi and encompasses important water sources feeding into the Nairobi Water Basin such as the Gitathiru River [12]. Although the over 1,040ha forest was declared a protected area in 1963, rampant deforestation is still occurring at the hands of wealthy business developers [10]. The land in recent years has been attracting many land-grabbers for housing developments [12]. This has caused water sources to dry up and wildlife to disappear. 90% of the communities living in the forest have also lost their livelihoods, been displaced, and are forced to live as squatters elsewhere [10]. This includes the indigenous Ogiek and Sengwer peoples [9]. Environmentalists are also concerned that the deforestation of over a third of the protected forest land means that there will be fewer trees to absorb pollution from the air. Campaigners argue that long-term effects include famine, hunger, and diseases [10].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Private development in Kiambu Forest near Nairobi, Kenya
State or province:Kiambu
Location of conflict:Kiambu
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:1,040
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1988
Company names or state enterprises:Agropack Limited
Bahati MP Onesmus
Pelican Engineering & Company Limited
Wisebo Investments Limited
Kama Agencies Limited
Relevant government actors:Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Ministry of Environment
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:WildlifeDirect, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Fridays for Future-Most Affected People and Areas (MAPA), Greenwalk-Kenya, Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI), Greenpeace Africa, Amnesty International, ILC Africa, Frontline Defenders, Conservation Alliance of Kenya, Animal Survival International
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Ogiek and Sengwer Indigenous peoples
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution, Noise pollution, Soil contamination
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although Stutchbury was able to win a court case blocking Agropack from encoraching into the forest, other companies continue developing the land and there is still impunity for her killer(s).
Sources & Materials

[3] Business & Human Rights. No arrests made for murder of conservationist threatened by road developers (2021)
[click to view]

[7] Amnesty International. WHO HAD ENOUGH MOTIVE TO KILL JOANNAH STUTCHBURY? (Houghton 2021)
[click to view]

[10] IPS News. The People’s Campaign Against ‘Land Grabbing’ (Achieng 1998)
[click to view]

[4] Thingira. Police probe Tangatanga MP’s link to environmentalist’s murder (2021)
[click to view]

[12]The Daily Maverick. Kenyan forest defender Joanna Stutchbury assassinated in gangster-style slaying (Pinnock 2021)
[click to view]

[1] The Guardian. Environment activist shot dead outside Nairobi home after death threats (Burke 2021)
[click to view]

[8] Nation. Conservationist Stutchbury had been living in fear of her life (2021)
[click to view]

[5] Scrolla. Lifelong defender of Kenya’s forests shot dead (Greene 2021)
[click to view]

[9] Kenyans. Joannah Stutchbury's Houseboy Spills Beans on MP Who Threatened Her (Wangari 2021)
[click to view]

[11] K24. Shock as Kiambu environmentalist Joanna Stutchburry is shot dead inside her car (Kiage 2021)
[click to view]

[2] Common Dreams. 'This Is Sickening': Forest Defender Joanna Stuchburry Shot to Death in Kenya (Germanos 2021)
[click to view]

[6] Nyakundi. Environment Ministry Ties Pelican Engineering & Company Ltd To Brutal Murder Of Environmentalist (2021)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update19/11/2021
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