News 2008


State must act on Mau Forest now or risk dire outcome

Daily Nation

August 2 2008

Listening to the voices coming from Rift Valley politicians on the question of the Mau Complex, one discerns a careless reaction to a highly important national issue.

The conservation of the forest block is not a sectional issue or a mere inter-communal conflict over land and water.

The Mau Complex is arguably the most significant water tower in East Africa. It is the source of the Mara River which straddles several game parks and reserves across Kenya and Tanzania.

It supports the most extensive ecosystem in the region, offering a lifeline to thousands of pastoralists and draining into Lake Victoria.

The annual, world-famous wildebeest migration cannot be without the Mau. Ravage the Mau, and you will have killed pastoralism, tourism, irrigation, horticulture, investment ad infinitum.

Whereas Cabinet Minister William Ole Ntimama and his compatriots argue that they want to protect the Mau Complex to save the pastoralists from extinction, MPs Isaac Ruto, Benjamin Langat and Magerer Langat claim the former are driven by the desire for “political” rather than environmental conservation.

Conservation and sustainable development are the very essence of inter-generational equity; the desire for self-preservation and perpetuation, espoused by every society.

When resources are abundant different communities and societies share them in peace. When they are scarce, communities skirmish or go to war over them. Further destruction of the Mau might provoke an inter-communal conflict in South Rift. This will be the ultimate cost of bad and myopic leadership.

Legal compensation is now being hoisted as the only basis for negotiating a safe “political” exit out of the Mau quagmire. Procedure is the handmaiden of justice. If the initial excision and entry into the Mau was illegal and un-procedural ab initio, why should eviction be legal and procedural?

No political platitudes, legal shenanigans or claims of sanctity of title deed can justify the prelude of a slow but inevitable environmental genocide.

The Mau must be protected at all costs for posterity. It does no matter who has to lose or win elections.

All unwanted settlers must get out of the forest now. Only the fauna and flora are fit to live there!