August 9th marks the annual International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. There are approximately 370 million indigenous people around the world. Indigenous people face more barriers than their non-indigenous counterparts. They make up 15% of those impoverished around the world, despite being only 5% of the global population. There are an estimated 50 million indigenous people in Africa, which is approximately 4% of the continent’s population. They face an immense amount of difficulty in this developing region.
A UN report on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples looked into the forest peoples of Africa, who are also known as Pygmies. The Batwa group of forest people reside in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda. In this developing continent, the Batwa face many specific barriers. In the DRC and Rwanda, the Batwa are not granted citizenship nor are they recognized as an individual ethnic group. Without citizenship, they cannot own land or a home. As forests are taken down for increasing urbanization and the Batwa lose their pastoral lifestyle, they are increasingly being pushed into villages where they cannot find legitimate housing. The Batwa also lack access to healthcare and a large percentage are impoverished which has led to a major population decline. Only 2% of Batwa have sufficient land to cultivate, and maintain food security.
The report concluded by stating that indigenous people, including indigenous Africans, need to be represented in politics at a higher rate and have their voices heard in government in order for change to occur. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be met without the inclusion of indigenous people.
Read the full UN report here.
The Aid and International Development Forum will be holding the 3rd Aid and Development Africa Summit at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on 27-28 February 2018. The Summit will bring together humanitarian and development leaders, decision makers and advisors committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. For more information, visit the website.
Image source: Geography