The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC) is a network of 150 indigenous peoples’ organisations in 20 African countries. It is a membership organisation. Any legitimate organisation composed of African indigenous peoples is welcome to apply for membership. Other associations working in development, human or indigenous rights may apply for associate (non-voting) membership. Members elect an Executive Committee representing six geographic and cultural regions in Africa including a special regional representative of indigenous women.
IPACC’s main aims include:
Promote recognition of and respect for indigenous peoples in Africa;
Promote participation of indigenous African peoples in United Nations’ events and other international forums;
Strengthen leadership and organisational capacity of indigenous civil society in Africa in particular strengthening subregional networks of indigenous peoples;
The Bujumbura 2007 meeting of the IPACC Executive Committee also adopted a framework to strengthen the participation of indigenous peoples in environmental policy, protection and sustainable management and use of natural resources;
IPACC’s view is that all peoples in Africa should be able to contribute to the economy and governance of our countries. There was a time when indigenous peoples were respected for their advanced spiritual and technical knowledge of the forests, savannah and deserts. Indigenous peoples are still often sought out as healers, trackers, rainmakers and animal behaviourists. However, due to their marginalisation under colonialism, indigenous peoples are sometimes ignored by African states or are seen as anachronistic and ‘backwards’. The cultures and economies of many indigenous peoples are at risk due to policies and practices that do not take their needs and knowledge into account.
The impact of globalisation of communications and economies means that the activities of multinational companies are reaching deep into remote areas of Africa. Globalisation comes in the form of uranium or diamond mining, logging, agriculture or oil exploration. Where indigenous peoples are not part of national development planning, they can become victims of major environmental changes which destroy their livelihoods and cultures.
Even conservation of the environment can cause unnecessary displacement and marginalisation of indigenous peoples. Numerous African national parks have caused the expulsion of indigenous peoples and then not offered them opportunities to assist in conservation activities.