News 2008


Team to resolve Mau dispute

Story by NATION Team

21 July 2008

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is set to launch a task force to address the Mau Complex dispute Monday, even as a section of Rift Valley leaders vowed to resist the planned eviction of farmers allocated land in the forest.

A press invitation from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to cover the launch said that it will be held at the Treasury Building’s boardroom at 2pm.

The task force is to, among other things, work with local communities in addressing the Mau problems.

Two MPs from the Maasai and Kipsigis communities will sit in the committee comprising representatives from a number of ministries and other stakeholders.

The committee will demarcate and fence the 400,000-hectare Mau Complex, which is the source of 12 rivers and a lifeline for millions of people.

It will further mobilise resources to restore the complex and establish a special court to prosecute those found involving in irregularities in the forest.

Mr Odinga came under sharp criticism from 10 Rift Valley MPs last week following a directive to thousands of people living in the forest to vacate by October.

The Government has said that it will only resettle 1,960 people who have been issued with title deeds for the land.

Yesterday, Rift Valley leaders said that the evictions should be shelved until the affected families are compensated.

Kipkelion MP Magerer Lang’at demanded that all leaders and stakeholders be consulted: “Leaders from the region are not opposed to the conservation of the Mau forest, but the Government should consult the affected families,” he said.

He said alternative land to resettle the families should be found.

Questioned sincerity

In Eldama Ravine, MPs Musa Sirma (Nominated), Moses Lesonnet (Eldama Ravine) and Luka Kigen (Rongai) questioned the sincerity of the Government, arguing that some communities such as the Ogiek considered the forest their ancestral land.

They said the evictees should be shown where they will be settled before they are moved.

Environment and Wildlife minister Dr Noah Wekesa has cautioned against politicisation of the intended evictions.

He said an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to facilitate the resettlement of people to be evicted from the forest, considered to be the main water catchment area for Lake Victoria.

“The continued destruction of Mau forest will affect 12 rivers,” he said.

The Kwanza MP made the remarks at a homecoming party for Eldoret East MP Margaret Kamar.

However, MPs from Rift Valley, who included ministers William Ruto (Agriculture) and Henry Kosgey (Industrialisation), urged the Government to provide alternative land to the affected people.

Speaking at the same function, Mr Ruto and Mr Kosgey said it was wrong for the Government to set an October eviction deadline before allocating the settlers alternative land.

But Molo MP Joseph Kiuna said that Kenya would lose a great deal in tourism revenue if the squatters were not evicted.

Stories by Lucas Barasa, Sollo Kiragu, Barnabas Bii, Wanjiru Macharia and Simon Siele