• A Senate committee has sided with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to stop the eviction of the 244 families by the Kenya Forest Service to allow for conservation.
• The Environment ministry said that no eviction notice has been issued to the minority Ngerek community.
The minority Ngerek community will continue to live in the ‘ecologically sanative’ South Nandi Forest after a parcel meant for their resettlement was grabbed by 'prominent people'.
A Senate committee has sided with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to stop the eviction of the 244 families by the Kenya Forest Service to allow for conservation.
“The committee recommends that the CS for Environment and Forestry revokes any previous orders directing the Ngerek community to leave their land in Ngerek Hills area,” the report reads.
The Land and Environment Committee wants the Ministry to assert that the Ngerek community rightfully occupy the land they are currently settled on.
Members of the community petitioned the House to avert looming eviction by the government from the forest.
The families said they have received an eviction notice from the Kenya Forest Service to pave way for the conservation of the forest as a catchment area.
“While this is being done, members of the Ngerek community are left with nowhere to go as the land identified and set aside by the government for their resettlement was grabbed by prominent people who have refused to vacate from the said land,” the petition reads.
The community noted that in 1996, the government proposed to resettle them to enable the conservation and protection of the forest.
Under the proposed Chepkuma Exchange Programme, the 244 families were to be relocated to a parcel of land measuring 1,152 acres in Yala and Kapkangani in Nandi.
However, before the community could move in, some people occupied the place and have refused to leave despite losing a court case to block their removal.
“We pray that the persons unlawfully occupying the land set aside for resettlement of the minority Ngerek community are immediately evicted from the said land and that any titles issued thereon are revoked,” reads the petition in part.
In its submissions to the committee, the Ministry of Environment admitted the community was not resettled in the new parcel because of “vested interests among administrators and politicians” in Nandi county.
“Noteworthy is that the portion of the forest where the Ngerek community would have been settled under the Chepkumia Land Exchange Programme was occupied by illegal occupants who were largely backed by the local administrators and politicians,” the Ministry said.
The ministry said that no eviction notice has been issued to the minority Ngerek community. The eviction order, issued by District Forest Officer was directed at the illegal occupants of the forest and not the community, the ministry said.
“This is premised on the fact that the minority Ngerek community are owners of privately titled land where the Ministry has no jurisdiction.”
The National Land Commission told the committee that the Ngerek were supposed to be resettled together with the Koibem community in the new parcel excised by the KFS.
NLC noted that the 244 families of the Ngerek community were to be settled on 1,112 acres and Koibem in 642 acres.
While the Ngerek were never settled because of the illegal occupants, Koibem settled in their new place.
(edited by o. owino)