Mau forest stands for life, our
21. 07. 2008
THE 400,000-HECTARE MAU FOREST COMPLEX remains by far the most
important water tower in the region. The source of at least 12
rivers, the complex is the bedrock of economic activity in Western
Kenya and the Lake Victoria region in general.
The continued degradation of this great ecosystem, through such
activities as illegal logging, excisions and encroachments, will
have far-reaching environmental and economic implications. It is
now estimated that up to a quarter of the complex has been
destroyed. This is a situation that must not be allowed to go on.
Just last week, in an indication of what could happen if the
destruction continues, the Kenyan government cancelled the
commissioning of the 60MW Sondu Miriu hydroelectricity project
because the water levels in the holding dam were insufficient. The
river that feeds the $185 million project originates from the
Elsewhere, reports have emerged that the rivers flowing from the
complex to such wildlife sanctuaries as Lake Nakuru and the
Mara-Serengeti triangle are drying up, putting the region’s
multi-billion dollar tourism industry at risk. Also being affected
is agriculture and the domestic water supply situation in the
Already, the United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that
Kenya is losing nearly $300 million annually due to the
degradation of the Mau and other forests. Significantly, since
many of its rivers flow into Lake Victoria, destruction of the
forest complex will have implications beyond Kenya into the Nile
In the circumstances, it is imperative that the basic resolutions
of the inter-ministerial consultative committee, which met with
various stakeholders under the chairmanship of Prime Minister
Raila Odinga, be implemented without delay.
These include the relocation of the estimated 3,000 families who
have settled in the complex by October 30, as well as the
demarcation and fencing of the forest complex.
It is unfortunate, in the event, that sections of Kenya’s
ever-squabbling political class seem intent to scuttle the
resolutions of the inter-ministerial committee. The politicians
must realise that the Mau forest is too important to the people of
East Africa to be sacrificed for partisan interests.
If it is allowed to die, human deaths will follow.