• CS Najib Balala says the government has spent Sh1.2 billion to compensate human-wildlife conflict victims.
• The CS disbanded county committees handling the compensation on ground that they are 'too expensive' and the docket is now headed by county commissioner.
Emmaculate Ochieng’ had left her grandmother’s home to fetch water in River Arimbo in Seme, Kisumu county.
Unknown to Pamela Ouko, this would be the last she would see of her granddaughter, who had just joined Form 1 in a nearby secondary school.
Pieces of her clothes were left floating in the water, leaving a horrid image of what could have occurred. The aftermath of the 2016 tragedy is something her relatives would rather not talk about.
The only story that is told about her three years later is how confused friends watched helplessly as the 16-year-old fought for her life as a crocodile tore her apart in broad daylight.
“The screams could not help. It was too late. I wish she had not gone, I wish she had not been sent home for school fees,” the grandmother said.
The family’s hope for compensation has been raised after Tourism and Wildlife ministry gave Sh569 million to compensate victims of human-wildlife conflict. Emmaculate's family will be among the beneficiaries.
Victims will be compensated in three instalments of 30 per cent of the total claim and the final chunk paid once.
The cash recently approved by the National Assembly will be shared among 4,752 out of 13,125 victims whose claims have been approved. The total cash to be paid in compensation is Sh1.553 billion.
While 4,722 victims claiming up to Sh1.859 billion reported cases were deferred until all documents needed were provided, 3,651 cases amounting to Sh1.506 billion were thrown out. Some of the reasons include documents without signatures and failing to report the matter to the police station.
“We noted very many instances of fraud in trying to get compensation during the five-month period we used to countercheck the information provided thereby rejecting over 3,000 cases,” Tourism CS Najib Balala said on Tuesday.
The CS spoke while handing over the cheque to Kenya Wildlife Service for distribution in Nairobi. He said the victims have not been paid since 2013.
“We know that the money we give cannot bring back the lost lives, but we only wish to console the victims and try to fill a part of the gap they left,” Balala said.
Even though they appreciated the move to finally compensate them, some victims faulted the method of payment, saying it only prolongs their grief.
Abdul Jattani still mourns the loss of his father, who was bitten by a puff adder while he was asleep in his Manyatta in Marsabit county back in 2016.
His pain is sill evident as he struggles to stop tears from flowing.
“A sudden death doesn’t go away easily. One day I was with my father, the next day, he was gone, like passing wind,” he said.
“This compensation in bits only prolongs the healing process.”
According to statistics provided by KWS, 452 human death claims were lodged between 2014 and 2017. Of the cases, 163 were approved and the families will be compensated Sh800 million.
Some 119 cases summing up to Sh595 million were deferred, while 170 claims amounting to Sh850 million were rejected.
A total of 4,555 cases of human injury claims were lodged. Of this number, only 1,711 were approved to be paid Sh549 million in total. Another 1,966 cases claiming Sh948 million were deferred and 878 cases worth Sh434 million were rejected.
Other claims were on crop damage (5,073 cases), livestock predation (3,012 cases) and property destruction (33 cases).