Impunity Runs Amok - ‘Title Deeds’ for Water Tower
It is not for nothing that the Mau Forest Complex has been described by the American Wildlife Foundation as Africa’s water tower.
The AWF also identifies the complex as the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa, a critical water catchment area that is the source of many rivers as well as 60 per cent of the water received by Lake Victoria. These rivers and the lake are lifelines for most of western Kenya’s people and wildlife.
It beggars belief therefore that someone somewhere is issuing so-called title deeds to thousands of people who are encroaching on the forest and are busy around the clock destroying the water tower.
What’s more, an outcry by residents in the vicinity of the forest seems to be going largely unheeded by officialdom. Alarmed residents at a meeting at Olkurto, Mau Narok, with security officials, administrators, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Widlife Service and Members of County Assemblies deliberated on how to conserve the forest recently.
They accused government of being reluctant to protect the forest and threatened to flush out the encroachers. A lot of effort has gone into ensuring that the Mau is conserved, but clearly not enough is being done. What, for instance, happened to Deputy President William Ruto’s vow in 2014 that the government would evict thousands of illegal settlers, resettle legitimate settlers and rehabilitate the water tower?