Forest squatters oppose resettlement committee

By Peter Kahare - 20 Jul 2011 15:37:0 GMT
Forest squatters oppose resettlement committee

Kenya. People who were evicted from Kenya's largest water catchment, the Mau forest have rejected a Committee formed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to arrange and lead in resettlement exercise.

The displaced families said Monday that they did not have confidence in the committee since their representatives were not included.

The representatives of the evicted people were reacting to Prime Minister Odinga's announcement last week that a committee had been formed to address the resettlement of the more than 6, 000 families evicted from Mau forest in November 2009.

According to the Prime Minister the Committee would be made up of Roads Minister Franklin Bett and Members of Parliament Magerer Lang'at of Kipkelion constituency ,Beatrice Kones of Bomet and Joyce Laboso of Sotik constituencies.

John Rotich, chairman of Kapkembu Camp; where over 200 families are camping said they want the Ministry of Special Programs to handle the resettlement exercise.

The displaced families faulted the PM for leaving out legislator Zakayo Cheruiyot from the team yet he represented Kuresoi constituency where evicted families are camping.

A local Church leader Reverend Abraham Mutai said the Mau Interim Coordinating Secretariat, which is charged with restoring the forest, should also not play any part in the planned resettlement as it had lost the confidence of the residents.

The more than 6, 000 families of Kalenjin Community were evicted from Mau forest in an exercise that was to kick start the restoration of the vital forest block where more than 12 rivers flow from.

According to the Secretariat at least 24,000 hectares of the forest's 400,000 hectares have been reclaimed.

The complex has lost at least 107,000 hectares of forest cover due to irregular and unplanned settlements, logging and charcoal burning, as well as agriculture activities, over the past 20 years.

Pressure has mounted on the government to resettle the families who squat under drooping bamboo raised tents, to save them from adverse forest weather, diseases and hunger.

Top Image Credit: © Florian Berger