Group opposes eviction of Seng’wer community from Embobut Forest

Friday December 29 2017

A section of Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet

A section of Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet County in this picture taken on April 3, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NYABOGA KIAGE
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By PHILEMON SUTER
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The move by the government to issue an eviction notice to the Seng’wer community living in Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet could jeopardise a Sh3.6 billion water project by the European Union.

The EU early this year announced that it would fund the water project for six years as long as the community is not evicted.

NOTICE

The eviction notice has attracted the attention of the Forest Peoples’ Program (FPP), an international body that fights for the rights of communities living in and around forests.

Mr Justin Kenrik, the FPP boss said members of the community are living in fear because officers from the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) threatened to forcefully evict them from the piece of land.

He urged the EU to suspend all funding to the agencies that run its project in the forest until it’s clear that no one will be evicted from the forest.

“We call upon the EU to make urgent and high level representations to the Ministry of Environment and to the KFS to demand an immediate halt to the evictions. They should also ensure the immediate withdrawal of armed personnel from the region,” he said.

MEETING

Investigations by the Nation reveal that on Thursday, an impromptu security meeting was held at KFS regional offices in Eldoret town where the eviction of the community from the forest was discussed.

The meeting was attended by all top security agents from Elgeyo- Marakwet County.

North Rift Regional Conservator Dedan Nderitu on Friday said they held a meeting to discuss the matter but did not give more details.

However, he said that the catchment area was out of bounds for anyone because the members of the community had already been compensated to a tune of Sh 1.1 billion.

Members of the community maintain that they will not move from the area despite armed policemen pitching camp and erecting tents in the forest.