Introduction of the organisation
Kapaeeng Foundation as a human rights organization for Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh was established on 1 April 2004 with the view to working for promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the country. The term ‘Kapaeeng’ is derived from indigenous Khumi language, meaning ‘Rights’. The vision of Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) is to establish a society based on the values of justice, equity and freedom where human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People (IPs) are ensured.
The mission of Kapaeeng Foundation are, among others, to promote and protect the human rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the country and to conduct advocacy, lobby and campaign programme for the same at local, national and international level; to establish a strong network and partnership with national, regional and international organizations and individuals working on promotion and protection of human rights as well as IP rights and to raise the capacity of IPs in promoting and protecting the human rights.
1.1 COVID 19 Intervention of Kapaeeng Foundation
Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) have played significant role to prevent COVID-19 pandemic among indigenous communities’ peoples of Bangladesh. Following are the contributions of KF;
- Earlier, Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) have galvanised the Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders (IPHRDs) as well as youth IPHRDs countrywide to raise awareness about COVID-19 impact to their own-community peoples by distributing leaflets and posters. KF have distributed almost 6000 leaflets and 2500 posters to the indigenous community’s peoples through the IPHRDs Network, Bangladesh.
- In this early-stage, the youth IPHRDs have played significant role to raise fund through online-campaign, like- ‘Bonofuler Jonno Jummo Taruner Bhalobasha’.
- At a limited-scale, Kapaeeng Foundation also have provides support to the vulnerable communities peoples during the lock-down period both CHT and plain-land. In CHT, Kapaeeng Foundation has provided measles affected IPs amidst the current COVID-19 outbreak living in remote Sajek area in CHT.
- In plain-land, a total of 272 (Male-163, Female-109) indigenous families from Santal, Mushor and Hajong communities have provided relief by Kapaeeng Foundation through the support of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and European Union (EU)
- Kapaeeng Foundation along with ILO has conducted a study, ‘A Rapid Assesment Report The impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Bangladesh’.
- Kapaeeng Foundation have contributed to the OP-Ed column of The Daily Star to raise the issue of COVID-19 impact among indigenous peoples life’s in Bangladesh;
1.2 SDGs Intervention of Kapaeeng Foundation
Kapaeeng Foundation has closely tied with SDGs intervention in Bangladesh with implementing Indigenous Navigator initiative in Bangladesh. The initiative is to provide community generated disaggregated data of relevance across all SDGs, enhance the capacity of indigenous communities regarding their rights and development, as well as facilitate dialogue with multiple stakeholders. It is further seeking to ensure the full and effective engagement of indigenous peoples in national planning, implementation, monitoring, and the SDGs’ review process. Indigenous peoples’ participation and consultation will also serve to ensure that the need for justice, equality and sustainability for all is taken into account, and indigenous peoples are also empowered to contribute towards sustainable development for all as partners. Some outcomes of this interventions are-
- Since 2017, inception of Indigenous Navigator project in Bangladesh, KF facilitated 40-IP communities 40 (Out of 50 IPs) to generated data through community consultation using the Navigator tools and uploaded data to Navigator web-portal.
- A lot of community members and 80-community facilitators were engaged voluntarily whereas 1, 50,000 IP (3 Million IP in Bangladesh) were covered through the initiative; Consultation meeting, Training, Dialogue Workshop and Alliance Building, etc.
- 10 Indigenous Peoples Organization (IPOs) of Bangladesh have provided small grant through Navigator initiatives to enhance community peoples’ rights in different domains; Health, Education, Access to Justice, Language, Land, Fundamental Freedoms, Consultation and Consent, Employment and Self-government, etc.
- ILO and Kapaeeng Foundation along with IP representatives have done consultation meeting with Director General of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) to include IPs in the National Census of Bangladesh 2021, to generate IPs disaggregated data.
- Kapaeeng Foundation has produced, Bangladesh Factsheet and Indigenous Navigator Country Report using community generated-data.
- In community level, Kapaeeng Foundation along with ILO raise awareness of IPs rights by arranging a series of dialogue-workshop confronting government-data and community generated-data.
- In national level, Kapaeeng Foundation along with ILO has arranged a series of Training, Discussion-meeting and Dialogue-workshop with representatives from GO-NGOs, Civil Society, Academia, NHRCs, BBS, Citizen Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, and Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs to enshrine the rights of IPs aligning SDGs, ILO Convention 169, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) 2007, 7th FYP of Bangladesh Government and World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) 2014, etc.
1.3 Indigenous Youth Intervention of Kapaeeng Foundation
Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) working as an incubator to nurturing indigenous youth capacity development by offering 4-months Internship programs for IP youth in the country. During the internship, IP-youths get opportunity to enhance their knowledge on- community development, engagement procedure with IP, develop interpersonal and organizational communication, IP rights and Networking. Additionally, the youth can gather practical knowledge through learning documentation, report writing, and conduct FFM (Fact Finding Mission), etc.
To enhance the solidarity among indigenous youth leaders of Bangladesh Besides, KF has yearly arranged Indigenous Youth Conference (IYC). In this conference, KF have creates space where youth leaders could express their strong commitment to engage themselves for the development of their communities and establish a vibrant network.
Indigenous youth who have successfully completed KF internship program, youth-conference and different capacity-development training programs get the opportunity to work in different network platform of KF, like- Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders IPHRD Network, Bangladesh, Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network(BIWN) and Bangladesh Indigenous Youth Network, etc.
Challenges of Intervention
1.1 COVID 19 Intervention: KF have face challenges to distribute the support to the local communities due to government-imposed lockdown. Selection of most needy community members among the marginalized IP community’s peoples were another major challenge. However, KF have successfully distributed the small support through the assistance of local IPHRD members and traditional leaders of Indigenous Community.
1.2 SDGs Intervention: KF stuffs have face challenges to facilitate the community consultations and Focused Group Discussion (FGD) meeting to collect the community-data due to countrywide lockdown. Fostering the Navigator initiative KF assigned the trained IPHRD members, traditional leaders and representatives of Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPO) to facilitate the consultations meeting, FGD and KII (Key Informant Interview).
1.3 Indigenous youth Intervention: Government imposed lockdown to tackle COVID-19 infections also creates obstacle to smooth operation of KF secretariat. Therefore, KF youth interventions are also hampered; like- Indigenous Youth Conference-2021 yet scheduled, Internship and capacity building training for youth participant’s shrinkages, etc.
Future outlook and recommendations
Kapaeeng Foundation has both sweet-and-sour experiences to the above engagements. However, the interventions of KF would not be possible if the local traditional leaders and IPHRDs Network members didn’t play vibrant role to successful the activities. Following are some of the lessons, KF have learned during the interventions;
Community resilience towards COVID 19
According to the study-report, A rapid assessment report: The impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Bangladesh, most of the indigenous communities are fairly well aware of the outbreak of COVID-19. They came to know about the pandemic through public information, press, electronic media, TV advertisement and mike-announcements in their local area. Along with traditional institutions, the Union Parishad and Upazila Parishad, many of the community-based organizations (CBOs) and local volunteers have been working to raise awareness on safety guidelines in tackling the pandemic in their respective communities. Most communities are deeply concerned about the severity of this pandemic and its long-term impact on their social, cultural and economic situation. Most communities have reported that they are trying their best to follow the safety guidelines provided by the government such as staying at home, washing their hands with soap, wearing masks when going out, maintaining social distancing with other community members and 14 days quarantine for those returning to their homes from cities.
Vibrant role of IPHRDs and traditional leaders
Kapaeeng Foundation (KF), response to COVID-19 initiative was successful through the active participation of Indigenous People’s Organizations (IPOs) and local IPHRD. Due to lockdown, it was not possible for KF stuffs to move to the local community for providing support. In this meantime, the local IPHRDs have played back-up role; selecting the community and slot-out the needy members for the support. Besides, IPHRDs and traditional leaders of the communities were playing vibrant role to access government measures under local safety-net programs Union Parishad (UP).
Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) study, A rapid assessment report: The impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Bangladesh, revealed the challenges which still applies to IPs life in Bangladesh;
- Inadequate Government Measures to support Indigenous Peoples (IPs);
- Loss of livelihood and income due to COVID-19 lockdown, shutdown;
- Increased food insecurity and starvation of daily wage earners;
- Debt and exacerbation of poverty due to taking loan in high interest rate;
- Lack of access to health services especially in CHT where IPs live in remote area;
- IPs children education disrupted due to lack of modern accessories; TV, Smart-phone, etc.;
As per KF documentation, IPs have faced high degree of human rights violations during this pandemic time-
- Intimidation and harassment of IPs leaders, activist in CHT by security forces increased;
- Land grabbing amid in COVID 19 by political elites, private companies and individual land grabber also increase;
- Violence against indigenous women and girl trend also rapidly increased, etc.
Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) study, A rapid assessment report: The impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Bangladesh, provides recommendation to the government to take appropriate measures to remove economic, social and political barriers to truly empower the indigenous people of this country.
In particular, the government of Bangladesh needs to put forth some unique local responses to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis to address the needs of the vulnerable indigenous communities at the face of served food crisis such as:
- Ensure timely distribution of adequate food, economic, safety kit assistance for the marginalized indigenous peoples of Bangladesh;
- Provide free electronic devices and internet access/packages for indigenous children on priority basis during this crisis time to avail educational opportunities;
- Establish an emergency fund for the ITPs to address the crisis of food insecurity among marginalized indigenous communities;
- Set-up a transparent mechanism in channeling resources of the ITPs fund to the appropriate marginalized indigenous communities;
- Establish a special fund to support and protect the employment of indigenous women working in the informal sectors such as beauty parlors and garment factories;
- Including Indigenous Peoples including youth to participate in designing, implementing and evaluating these government responses to the pandemic;
- Ensure visible engagement of CHT Regional Council and Traditional Institution in the process of all kinds of COVID 19 responses; and
- Ensure access to healthcare services for marginalized indigenous communities during the lockdown.
- Provide sustained, long-term economic relief for the marginalized Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh such as universal access to public services and universal social protection through specialized programs;
- Develop policies to protect the labor rights of the indigenous women workers in the informal sectors;
- Promote indigenous women’s empowerment, including through access to jobs, entrepreneurship support, and access to land and credit, protection against violence and harassment, and develop culturally sensitive policies that address care needs amongst indigenous groups;
- Implement ILO Convention No. 107 and ratify ILO Convention No. 169
- Include Indigenous Peoples to participate in designing, implementing and evaluating these government initiative for implementing the SDGs; and
- Ensure socio-economic and political rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh in the spirit of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Website link of the organisation