Conservation groups want faster eviction from Mau water tower
Several lobby groups are pushing for faster eviction of settlers from the Mau Forest complex amid claims of human rights violations in the exercise.
Nine environmental conservation groups convened a presser, where they demanded faster eviction of the settlers, saying encroachment of the forest should never be tolerated and all measures should be used to kick out the squatters.
“The water tower is the largest in the country and supports millions of livelihoods nationally, regionally and internationally. It must be salvaged at all costs,” said Wambui Muthiga, Joint Environmental Conversation Groups chairperson.
The government is carrying out evictions in Narok South and North targeting 60,000 people in a bid to reclaim 17,000 acres of land.
Green Spaces, Penda Panda, The Green Belt Movement, East Africa Wildlife Society, Kenya Forest Working, Heart of Greens, Climate Justice Alliance and International Tree Foundation groups said they were willing to support the government in tree planting to reclaim the forest once the eviction has been concluded.
The groups supported Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko for leading the operation and urged for continued encouragement of the team for the mission to be accomplished.
“The CS and his team on the ground need to be supported by all concerned parties. We fully support him and ask those fighting the process to think otherwise,” said Muthiga.
She added that the water tower is key for survival of the regional ecosystem hence need for its preservation. The group said it is mobilising resources to support conservation of other forests in the country.
The move by lobby groups has added weight to recent calls by Kenyans living in the United Kingdom, who insisted that the forest must be reclaimed. Their chairperson Kivindyo Ndivo condemned political leaders opposed to the evictions even as they called on the State not to relent.
“We condemn those who are frustrating the eviction exercise and we urge our leaders to think about the future generations by restoring Mau Forest,” said Ndivo.
This comes amid claims of human rights abuse in the exercise.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot has claimed squatters were being harassed by Kenya Forest Service officers in Sierra Leone area of the forest.
He alleged that houses were being set ablaze, animals slaughtered by officers besides other acts such as “urinating” on food.