Mau Environmental Conflict and the Human Security of the evictees
This research is towards critically analyzing and building an in-depth understanding of the Mau environmental conflict and the human security of the evictees. The Mau forest complex is Kenya's largest indigenous forest and it is a water catchment area for 12 rivers and various streams that feed a number of lakes. This makes the Mau forest an important resource besides being the most disputed water tower in Kenya. Whereas the government is concerned with conserving the degraded Mau forest, the Mau occupants are inclined to cling on to it due to the short-term benefits accrued from its use. There are various categories of occupants of the Mau Forest land: the indigenous people (the Ogiek), those who bought land, encroachers and political cronies, logging companies, tea, flower and coffee farms. The massive encroachment of this forest through charcoal burning, logging, farming has impacted on the water resources whose sources are in there. In an attempt to save this forest, the Prime Minister's High Level Task Force was formed in 2008 to carry out a survey and give recommendations to the Mau problem. The Task force published its report in July 2009 and recommended the eviction of settlers followed by tree planting. The government.launched the eviction exercise last November that has seen over 4, 000 evictees erect tents by the side of the road as their new home. The study found out that whereas the government has successfully evicted from the Mau, the plight of the evictees is at risk. The evictees, at least, those in the camps find themselves in a situation that denies them their basic human needs such as proper shelter, food, security, medical care, privacy, water and right to property among others. The eviction of the Mau occupants without resettlement is the major source of human insecurity among the evictees. Whereas some evictees had alternative homes, some like the Ogieks do not have alternative homes for they were born right in the forest and their fore-parents were buried in there. Ironically, while the poor evictees continue to Lavish in the camps, the rich Mawoccupants have their properties such as tea farms, factories and wheat farms intact. The study established that the situation of the evictees in camps has been worsened by the presence of people who are suspected not to have come from the Mau. The suspicious evictees claim to have lost their title deeds and allotment letters when their houses were set on' fire by the evictors. The rumours that accompany their presence have become a source of. discouragement to well wishers who had initially volunteered to help.
University of Nairobi, Kenya