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Revealed: The Conflicting Interests on Mau Forests

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko: Photo Courtesy

The Mau forest and land tale is one story that has never had a foreseeable ending. It is a potent mix of politics, land grievances, and a community caught between unresolved historical injustices, including a bid to regain their ancestral land.

 Communities push and a pull to protect their culture, is behind the frequent flare-ups of violence in the Eastern Mau. 

The violence in the region has time over hindered the efforts to conserve the Mau Forest, with the government at a dilemma over the best way to conduct evictions of the large part covered by people.

The latest bid by the government to reclaim sections of the forest in Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget, and Olposmor has been marred by violence, derailing evictions.

However, the Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya still insists that no one will be spared in the evictions.

The government is determined to reclaim the water tower. Nothing will stop that. The Mau Forest is a key resource that must be protected. The state cannot be intimidated,” said the no-nonsense administrator.

The government has been rational in handling the matter, for instance in July, the government kicked off evictions but the exercise has stalled when the politicians in Nakuru claimed that the evictions were selective and mainly targeted the poor.

The Leaders among them; MPs Gideon Keter(nominated), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South), Liza Chelule (Woman Rep), and Njoro’s Charity Kathambi accuse Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko of bias for residents were not aware where the forest cutline was.

More evictions were expected in Nessuit, Tachasis Chepkosa, Sururu, and Likia targeting about 20,000 households but the government appears to have held brakes on the exercise, following months of violence between the Ogiek and the Kipsigis.

Leaders from the region among them Rift Valley Council of Elders chairman Gilbert Kabage and Ogiek Council of Elders chairman Joseph Towett said that, underneath the ethnic strife, was the enduring feeling of historical injustices, that mainly borders on land allocation.

Mr. Kabage told Hello news desk that the government should form a multi-agency team to help in resolving the land issues surrounding the Mau Forest that has been a thorn in the flesh.

 “For how long should we kill each other because of unresolved land issues, we need an urgent solution to end the bloodshed in Nakuru and Narok counties. If possible, let those evicted from the forest be given alternative land,” Mr. Towett said.

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