Clearing of Mau Forest

What is affected
Housing Social/public
Housing private
Land Social/public
Land Private
Type of violation Demolition/destruction
Date 01 January 2001
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country Kenya
Location nation wide

Affected persons

Total 100000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Land losses

- Land area (square meters)

- Total value

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

local population
Brief narrative

High in the hills of Kenya`s Mau forest, some 20,000 families are facing eviction from their farms - accused of contributing to an ecological disaster which has crippled the country. The authorities are to start the process of removing them any day now. Farmers will be asked to surrender their title deeds for inspection. If their documents are genuine, they have a chance of being resettled or compensated. We are afraid. Not only me, but all of us here, says Kipkorir Ngeno, a teacher and father of six, from a village known as Sierra Leone. They call us squatters - a very bad name. But this is my land. It is not illegal. Drought and despair Mr Ngeno is one of those accused of responsibility for droughts which have left millions of Kenyans thirsty for water and hungry for retribution. They call us squatters - a very bad name `We have nowhere else to go` Mau forest is Kenya`s largest water tower - it stores rain during the wet seasons and pumps it out during the dry months. But during the past 15 years, more than 100,000 hectares - one quarter of the protected forest reserve - have been settled and cleared. Tearing out the trees at the heart of Kenya has triggered a cascade of drought and despair in the surrounding valleys. The rivers that flow from the forest are drying up. And as they disappear, so too have Kenya`s harvests, its cattle farms, its hydro-electricity, its tea industry, its lakes and even its famous wildlife parks. The finger of blame is being pointed at the settlers in Mau. And the solution, according to a special task force appointed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, is to uproot the invaders and replant the trees. Of 20,000 families living in the forest, they estimate that as few as 1,962 have genuine title deeds. Civil conflict We are looking at securing the livelihoods and economies of millions of Africans who directly and indirectly depend on the ecosystem. The prime minister was speaking at the United Nations - appealing for donations of $400m (£250m) to rehabilitate Kenya`s water supply. If he does not act, he foresees a struggle for water and land which could escalate into a bloody civil conflict. Because in the valleys downstream of Mau forest, farmers like Peter Ole Nkolia are running out of water, cattle, and patience. Those people up there need to just move, says Mr Nkolia, as he stands by the carcass of a dead cow. If the destruction of Mau shall continue I can assure you that a lot of people will suffer. What you are going to see here in Narok is just the skeletons of cattle - and maybe people. Worse still, the water from Mau quenches thirst far beyond Kenya. Its rivers feed Tanzania`s Serengeti and keep the fishermen of Lake Victoria afloat. When you consider that Lake Victoria is the source of the Nile, you begin to grasp the scale of the crisis the Kenyan government is facing. This is no longer a Kenyan problem, said Mr Odinga. Tanzania and Egypt are feeling the heat from the Mau. And the implications go beyond the environment. This has the potential to create insecurity as people squabble over dwindling resources. `Buffer zone` Chopping down the tree cover in Mau has removed a natural pump which keeps the ecosystem alive. It rains a lot in Kenya - but only in the rainy seasons. Then you have four long months with not a drop, explains Christian Lambrechts, from the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (UNEP). So you need a buffer zone - a way to ration the rain water and release it slowly into the rivers in the dry season. That buffer is the forest. If you remove this ecosystem, you reduce the moisture reservoir. Which means that in the dry season... `Hakuna maji`. No water. When the rains in Kenya stop falling, the 12 rivers which stem from the Mau forest are the lifeline for about 10 million people. And this year in Kenya, the rains fa

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