The Mau must be saved at all
18. July 2008
The Government must move firmly and with determination to clear
the Mau Forest of illegal settlement, while addressing the
concerns of all those affected who deserve a sympathetic and
humane solution. On that there must be no compromise.
Rabble-rousing politicians must not be allowed to introduce
selfish and divisive designs into a resource whose conservation is
a matter of life and death for millions beyond the immediate
The latest attempt to takes steps that will lead to the rescue of
the important water catchment is in the series of consultative
meetings convened by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Unlike previous burn-and-destroy missions, the present initiative
is an all-inclusive process that brings together a large variety
of interest groups, including local people and their councillors
and MPs, conservationists, and development organisations.
The discussions studied the scope of the problem and determined
that the most important water tower in the region cannot be
allowed to dry up because of uncontrolled human influx.
It was agreed that the Mau would be properly demarcated and
secured, and all those residing or engaging in illegal activities
moved out. It was also agreed that the Government would consider
cases of all those deserving resettlement and compensation.
No sooner had the resolution been reached, however, than a group
of MPs from the area politicised everything.
The Mau is too important an asset for the entire East African
region to be reduced to a dispute between politicians from the
Maasai and Kipsigis communities. And it is far too important to be
misused as a weapon of blackmail in the internal rivalries within
It was sad to witness MPs uttering ethnic war cries over the Mau
at the Tuesday meeting.
Even worse was the subsequent press conference when the MPs, who
asked their constituents not to vacate the forest, introduced
their own grievances within ODM.
That exposed them for what they are up to. They must not be
allowed to derail a most noble mission.