Subsidient: Roy Winkelhuijzen/Wageningen University
Subsidie: S172.68

Kenya is usually not famed for its forests, yet the country is highly dependent on their highland forests. All major rivers originate in these areas. However, these areas face problems of deforestation and other (social) issues. For my thesis I looked at a conflict in one of the highland forests: the Cherangani Hills. The government is the legal owner of the forest and strives to protect the forest by banning many local activities, including settlement. The Sengwer – a self-proclaimed indigenous people – have used these forests for generations and sometimes still live inside. They regard themselves as the legal owners and are therefore unwilling to move, which leads to conflict with the government. In my research I have done a framing analysis to better understand the different viewpoints of the parties involved. Subsequently I tried to unravel the underlying causes of conflict, which I used for options for conflict resolution by applying the Mutual Gains Model. The most important conclusion is that the conflict is more of a legal battle for land, instead of an ideological battle about how to conserve the forest. The largest obstacle for conflict resolution is the lack of (political) will. The trust between both parties needs to be restored first. International organisations are seen by both sides as a powerful, (potentially) neutral partner to facilitate the process of building trust.