Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ogiek elders complain of poor Mau revival pace

PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | FILE A section of Maasai Mau forest that had been destroyed.

PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | FILE A section of Maasai Mau forest that had been destroyed.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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By VERAH OKEYO
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The Ogiek Council of Elders has complained to President Kenyatta of his government’s “reluctance” to restore the Mau Forest Complex.

The elders said in a letter delivered to the President by chairman Joseph Towett Kimaiyo, through Rift Valley PC Osman Warfa, that the Jubilee Government had taken a back seat in the forest’s restoration.

The elders said as a result, illegal loggers were poaching timber.

“Numerous actions have been proposed to stem the destruction, reclaiming encroached land, compensating current occupants, resettlement of genuine squatters, rehabilitating and conserving the Mau Forest Complex, but it will not happen without the goodwill of the two leaders (President and his deputy),” said the letter.

TWO PHASES

The Mau reforestation campaign started in 2008 when former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was given the task of saving the Mau. He set up a Taskforce known as the Kenya Water Tower Agency.

It completed two phases. The first was securing the forests’ water catchment areas that had been settled on.

The second phase was flushing out illegal settlers and the third, in which occupants of the Maasai Mau were to be evicted, is yet to take place due to what the Kenya Water Towers Agency says is lack of funds.

The final phase, involving repossession of forestland from powerful individuals who have established tea plantations in the Trans Mara section of the Mau, has not started.

Meanwhile, an environmental group has accused locals near the forest of frustrating conservation.

The environmentalists told a Mau stakeholders’ forum in Nakuru last week that the conflict started after the communities were left out of conservation plans.

Reported by GEORGE SAYAGIE and VERAH OKEYO.

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