More than 6,000 members of the Ogiek community living near Eastern Mau forest have appealed to the government to include them in the restoration of the water tower.
Through their spokesperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett who is also the national chairperson of the Ogiek council of Elders, they reaffirmed their commitment to launch livelihood programmes to reclaim the forest cover.
The community living in Nessuit and Mariashoni wards in Njoro and Molo Sub counties said they supported the government's efforts to repossess all the illegally allocated forest lands.
“These forests are gifts of nature and source of livelihood and we urge the government to move a step further in the fight against corruption by overhauling the lands department and digitising the lands records in a bid to weed out corrupt officers,” said Mr Towett.
He appealed to the government to resettle some of the landless Ogieks in the 35,000 hectares of land recovered in 2001.
“Ogieks require about 16,000 hectares of land and if resettled, they will be part of the conservation of the forest as they have done since time immemorial before they were evicted,” said Mr Towett.
The Ogiek sued the government and won the case which compelled the State to resettle them. However, the government is yet to honour the court orders.
In one of the High Court ruling in 2014 the National Lands Commission was directed to identify and open a register of the members of the Ogiek community and identify land for their settlement.
The court had directed the community be resettled in Mariashoni and Nessuit in Njoro Sub-County.
According to Mr Towett, the community has developed a comprehensive settlement and conservation management programme which they said they are ready to implement.
“We may be a small community but in our own small way, we have kept the Mau Forest dialogue alive for 30 years by moving to court and raising alarm on irregular harvesting of trees,” said Mr Towett.
The community now wants to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta to present their memorandum to the state.
“We want to be recognised as an independent community and be gazetted just like Makonde and Asian communities,” said Mr Towett.
The community claimed it has been discriminated in job opportunities, scholarships and State appointments.