By Collins Odote
The eviction of those residing in Mau Forest is back in the news yet again. The issue has occupied that preeminent place for close to two decades now. My first formal engagement with the public discussions around the issues was a strategy discussion in the early 2000s with a group of lawyers who were opposing excision of the Mau forest complex.
Colleagues from Tanzania added to the opposition pointing out that the forest was important not just for Kenya but the entire region.
In 2019, after a Task Force Report, establishment of a Water Towers Agency, constitutional recognition of the importance of forests the problem will not just fade away. Mau has even been a campaign issue for the country’s presidential election. The need for conserving the forest and dealing with human encroachment needs no belaboring.
Anybody who does not appreciate that the Forest is a critical water tower, has huge environmental implication and requires to be conserved either is completely naïve or completely unwell. In addition, the importance of ensuring that human beings who get evicted should not be mistreated is also firmly settled and anchored in the country’s laws. The Land Act was even amended to provide for detailed guidelines on evictions whose rationale were to guarantee protection of fundamental rights and ensure humane treatment during the eviction process.
However, the greatest challenge in the entire process is the place of politics. Our penchant as a country of politicizing every issue continues to be our Achilles heels. Watching politicians this past week debate the matter, one easily appreciates that until we have honesty in our political discourse the issue may not fizzle away soon…Read more>>