Ruto tells those who have encroached Mau Forest to leave immediately

Ruto tells those who have encroached Mau Forest to leave immediately

President Ruto speaks at the funeral of Titame Ole Sankei, Olopirik village, Narok County. Photo/PCS

President William Ruto has called on all who have encroached Mau Forest and other natural resources across the country to vacate immediately. 

“Protecting our water towers is non-negotiable. We will spare no effort to conserve our forests; encroachers will be removed,” he said.

Ruto stated that the Government will erect fences around all ten Water Towers in the country to safeguard them from human encroachment.

"Those who are still in the forests should prepare themselves to leave quickly because we will put up fences, and it's not a request," Ruto cautioned.

Speaking during the funeral service of Maasai elder, the late Mzee Titame ole Sankei, at his Olopirik home in Narok West sub-county on Saturday, the Head of State declared that Mau Forest would be the first to be fenced off, with all human activities in the water towers being banned.

"The ten critical water towers in Kenya, with Mau being the largest, will be enclosed with fences. We have a comprehensive plan for this," he added.

Of Kenya's five water towers, Mau Forest is the largest and provides drinking water, and serves as the primary water source for 12 rivers that flow into Lakes Victoria, Natron, and Turkana, supporting the livelihoods of over 3 million rural residents in the Lake Victoria Basin and up to 2 million more in urban areas.

With deforestation escalating the risk of surface runoff which can further degrade forests and disrupt water distribution to plants, Ruto further instructed the Ministry of Environment to plant trees ahead of the El Nino rains.

“We have intensified our efforts to achieve the target of planting 15 billion trees by 2032. We will use El Nino rains to plant more trees as part of efforts to contain effects of climate change,” he stated. 

Narok County has been assigned the responsibility of planting 450 million trees.

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry, Soipan Tuya, echoed the President's sentiments.

"For anyone residing in the forest, there will be no negotiations. People should leave the forest,” the CS warned.

This comes after the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan called for immediate evacuation to invaders of Mau forest on September 28.

The water towers are crucial national assets for climate regulation, water storage, groundwater recharge, river flow regulation, flood mitigation, soil erosion control and soil formation.

Kenya has five major water towers: Mau Forest Complex, Cherang’any Hills, Mt. Elgon, Aberdare Ranges, and Mt. Kenya.

According to the Kenya Water Towers Agency, the Government recovered 19,000 hectares in the South-West Mau Water Tower in 2009. 

Those who voluntarily left the water tower were resettled in Chemusian, Baringo County, while others received Ksh.400, 000 to purchase land elsewhere.

In 2018, during Phase I of reclamation efforts, 4,500 hectares of forest land in Maasai Mau were recovered.

In 2019, during Phase II reclamation, the government reclaimed 17,101 hectares comprising Kamwengoi, Siera Leone, and Kipchoge.

Over the past decade, the government has reclaimed a total of 40,000 hectares.


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