Women from Ogiek Kurbanyat community whose families were evicted from Mau Forest in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County, have appealed to the government to speed up their resettlement programme.
Led by their spokesperson Ms Sandra Chebet, they said they have suffered for many years. They blamed past regimes for failing to resolve the land issue.
“Most of the young girls from the Ogiek community whose parents were forcibly evicted from the Mau Forest now have children. We have no schools in the area where our children can learn,” Ms Chebet told Nation in Nakuru on Saturday.
She added: “Girls from Ogiek community are now roaming in urban centres like Nakuru, Eldoret, Narok and Kericho in search of food for their children and parents.”
She claimed that some girls from the community have lost their lives in unclear circumstances while others had been jailed for engaging in crime.
“Our children are falling sick due to cold weather and we have no money to purchase drugs while our elderly parents have no food because the government has neglected us,” she said.
The women and their children protested the delay in resettling them after being evicted from Mau Forest.
Ms Chebet said that the forest was their main source of livelihood since they kept bees and harvested honey.
“The honey acted as medicine to our children but since we were evicted, we have no any other source of income,” said Ms Chebet who added that most children, who had attained school going age, were forced to stay at home due to lack of schools.
Many of the girls in the area, said they were now victims of early marriages due to lack of schools in the area.
“We demand justice for the Ogiek children, we should not be treated as foreigners,” said Ms Chebet.
She said it was ironical that the government was investing heavily in wildlife at the expense of the Ogiek.
“Wild animals are more protected than the Ogiek, the government has employed Kenya Forest Service rangers to protect them round the clock,” she added.
Ms Pauline Chepkorir said Ogiek women, who had land where they planted crops to feed their families, now work as farm hands at Kiptagich Tea Factory.
“Kiptagich Tea factory is now our only saviour but unfortunately it cannot employ all members of the Ogiek community,” said Ms Chepkorir.