The socio-economic impact of deforestation and eviction: a study of the Ogiek community of the Mau Forest, Kenya
Juma, Regina A
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The aim of this research study was to analyze the socio-economic impact of deforestation and eviction amongst the Ogiek community members in the Mau Forest. The Mau Forest has in the recent past been on the limelight as a result deforestation that has been taking place in the forest. The impacts of deforestation in the Mau Forest has not only been felt in Kenya but within the region. The Mau Forest is also a home to a number of communities and as a result, eviction within the forest has jeopardized lifestyle and livelihood for a number of families. The Mau Forest has also been politicized by policiticians who have used it to drive their own selfish agendas thus bringing the Forest as a centre of discussion and in the public limelight. Specific objectives of this study were to document the patterns of Mau Forest deforestation specifically in relation to the Ogiek habitat, and to evaluate the rationale and implementation of the governments' wholesale eviction programme, and their implications for the Ogiek way of life. This involved documenting the causes of deforestation in the MauForest, the challenges of Mau Forest Water Tower inhabitants, the governments' conservation and resettlement programmes in the Mau Forest, the socio-economic impacts of eviction, the proposed humanitarian programmes, and compliance with Mau Forest Water Tower protection. This study took a multiplicity of theories to provide the basic theoretical framework for analyzing the socio-economic impact of deforestation and eviction on the Ogiek community in the Mau forest, Kenya. The theories included; the theory of land use, Modernization theory, world system theory and Neo-Malthusian theory and the theories of eviction tend to emphasise one or more but limited aspects of deforestation and eviction. This theoretical framework used an integration of the deforestation and eviction theories approach. The theoretical framework indicate that increased deforestation and eviction is likely to result into the following socio-economic impacts: desertification; drought; climate change; loss of fuel, food and medicines; destruction of biodiversity and traditional cultures; increased runoff; impact on economy; loss of soil fertility; soil erosion; violation of human rights; homelessness; insecurity; lack of privacy and increased number of internally displaced persons. These conditions are already. A lot of literature was reviewed on deforestation and eviction, however the interpretation of the findings are limited to the Ogiek community' in the Mau Forest. No attempt has been made to generalize beyond the selected forests or beyond the Mau Water tower. No attempt has been made to generalize beyond the selected forests or beyond the Mau Water tower. The study employed descriptive study as research design; with the target population of 30 Ogiek community members, 6 KFS forest managers and 5 senior managers at the Ministry of Forestry department. All the 30 interviews with the Ogiek community, 6 KFS forest managers and 5 senior managers were successfully conducted. Data was obtained through interview guide, questionnaires and document analysis. The data was summarized into frequencies, percentages and chart. Data obtained through document analysis have been reported in narrative form. The findings indicated that the main causes of deforestation in the Mau Forest are; logging activities, large scale farming and settlement. The study also established also established that least causes of deforestation are; small scale farming, grazing or cattle ranching and firewood collection. The challenges ofMau Forest Water Tower inhabitants include; loss of culture, climate, lack of human and civil rights, changing land use practices, insecurity of land tenure and convergence of food, fuel and fiber prices in the international market leading to exploitation of forest products. Proposed humanitarian programs for evictees from the Mau Forest include; provision of an alternative land to settle evictees, provision of money to evictees to purchase their own land to settle in and building houses for persons evicted to settle in. The governments has also put in place a number of conservation and resettlement programmes to protect the Mau Forest Water Tower from further destruction including; eviction of the illegal forest dwellers in the Mau Forest, re-afforestation, community involvement in forest conservation programmes, training staff on forest conservation and provision of security in forest areas. The socio-economic impacts of eviction established in this study include; impact on culture, insecurity, homeless, lack of privacy, internally displaced persons, violation of human rights, impact on economy and climate change. It was also established that the main factors affecting forest dwellers compliance with Mau Forest Water Tower protection included; abuse of office and/or corruption - the political dimension associated with breakdown of law and order leading to excisions and uncontrolled exploitation of forests, weak institutional capacity for forest law enforcement and governance, associated with inadequate staff, low morale and poor equipment for forest guards and inadequate training and knowledge on forest legislation, and governments' inability to monitor illegal logging activities within the forest areas.