The State will conduct a fresh census and establish a register of the communities in the Eastern Mau Forest Block with a view to regularizing their settlement in the area.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i, said a fresh adjudication of the settled areas will begin immediately as the government endeavors to resolve the issue under a delicate balance between the rights of the affected people and conserving the forest.
Speaking after a meeting with community and religious leaders from the area at the Lake Naivasha Resort, Dr. Matiang’i announced that a special multi-agency task team has been constituted to spearhead the process, which is expected to be concluded by December 11, 2020.
“We have agreed to work on the modalities of settling everyone while addressing the special requirements that were prescribed in the judgement by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha. We will issue the Ogiek with a block title and ensure we accommodate everyone,” he said.
Consequent to persistent encroachment of the forest area and Kenya Forest Service offices and staff houses, all existing boundary cut lines and demarcation within the block have been voided, with the government now considering comprehensive remedial interventions to foster peaceful co-existence and avert the escalation of the crisis.
Dr. Matiang’i stated, “We have also taken drastic decisions through the reorganization of our structures and overhaul of our staff, including, surveyors and land adjudication officers. Some of the problems we are dealing with have been brought about by challenges in certain government departments.
Even the Ministry of Interior’s officers in the Provincial Administration and members of staff in the survey department who made several mistakes that have cost us dearly.”
As part of the efforts to implement the judgement on Application No. 006/2012 at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, 2,140 hectares were set aside at Mariashoni area for this purpose, but subsequent illegal settlements in the forest has sparked longstanding internecine and inter-communal conflicts and further complicated enforcement of the ruling.
Today’s meeting was convened following long deliberations in joint inter-ministerial meetings and a subsequent directive by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta to Dr. Matiang’i and his Cabinet colleagues Faridah Karoney, Charles Keter and Keriako Tobiko to chart the way forward.
The team will now conduct survey computation and plan drawing as laid down in the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016, and weed out landlord settlers from the deserving beneficiaries to pave the way for fresh resettlement.
Through their elders, the Ogiek and Kipsigis communities have also agreed to cease violence that has been witnessed in the area and voluntarily move out of riparian and ecologically sensitive areas to allow for their conservation.