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LESUUDA: My two cents on Kirisia forest evictions, conservation

To the administration and the law enforcers, you have to work in a humane way.

In Summary

• Rain and non ending streams were flowing, the area was full of wildlife which if was the case now can be used to earn resources through eco lodges and create employment.

• I humbly request us the professionals, students, religious leaders, chiefs, media, village admins and other local leaders to be agents of change. 

Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko, KFS Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau and Samburu woman representative Maison Leshomo plant trees in Kirisia forest on December 30, 2019
Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko, KFS Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau and Samburu woman representative Maison Leshomo plant trees in Kirisia forest on December 30, 2019

I need to break down something so that we can appreciate the importance of the process of conserving Kirisia Forest. Many questions have been raised and others even wondering and questioning if trees will elect us. I want to persuade you to walk this journey with us for the betterment of our community.

I cannot over emphasis the importance of Environmental Conversation. For those who were there when Kirisia Forest was Kirisia Forest they tell us of how “Inie apa edung’ieki nkolon’g” (the place where people escaped drought) by entire region.

Rain and non-ending streams were flowing, the area was full of wildlife which if was the case now can be used to earn resources through eco lodges and create employment.

Let’s also remember our people being in the forest they are denied essential basic services like Education, Health and clean water since the amenities cannot be built in a forest. You also just need to overfly the forest to see the massive distraction a disservice to us.

Then there is this controversial issue that has been there for so many years issue of Forest boundary. Many politicians have come and gone always using the forest issue that they will help review the boundaries and give land to the community hence the increased encroachment.

We now have an opportunity through the leadership of CS Keriako Tobiko to have this process to be done. He has given his assurance and the process has begun with maps retrieved and a team of surveyors both county and national surveyors put in place to conduct the verification of the boundaries.

It is important to note 12 Group Ranches touch or their boundaries cross over to Kirisia Forest some half of the group ranches or 3/4 are inside the forest the most affected being Nonkeek, Opiroi and Ang’ata Nanyekie.

We need to appreciate the good will of the CS he asked the habitants of the forest to move out and go back to the group ranches even though as it is the group ranches touch the forest. That’s why he said people living in contested areas shouldn’t be moved. So far since the first order of 31st December almost everyone has moved out of the forest, which is a great milestone.

Illegal settlers demolish their houses in Kirisia forest, Samburu
Illegal settlers demolish their houses in Kirisia forest, Samburu
Image: Martin Fundi

The challenge now has been Laletas (semi permanent homes) which the ministry sees as settlements and the CS insists for now since there is no drought they have to move out to allow grazing committees to be formed and strengthened so that livestock can graze in the forest but not having to be in Laletas. Laletas can be within the boundary of group ranches and forest once this is agreed upon.

Mairorie Lkisieku lan’g who in few areas are the ones who are resisting. It is also important that we involve the herders for them to understand and appreciate the importance of the process to avoid resistance.

The CS has communication from the president after our second meeting with him a few months ago that the group ranches which all have legitimate government titles have their boundaries established and the new forest boundary to get a new title and also the Sanctuary area of Maralal. He will personally hand over these titles as we do for the individuals soon of the complete subdivided six group ranches.

My people, I am one of the leaders who does not fear speaking out the truth even if it is the minority opinion if it will be ultimately benefit our community. Am not afraid to show the way.

We are alive to the fact of politics too with some inciting those still in the Forest not to leave while they sleep in the comfort of their secured homes, while their children access education, health, clean water and other services all in the name of discrediting the current leadership and also making sure a solution is not reached so that others don’t get credit.

If we do not, as a community, abide by our part of the bargain we can easily loose the bigger picture of having the Forest issue resolved now that we have an opening and good will having in mind that land issues are emotive. The old forest boundary will remain in place and this will leave a lot of our people landless.

As leadership we have communicated this information to the public since January this year and we continue to do it. Also the CFAs and elders are playing a critical role. It is very unfortunate the incidences of the recent past where people had to loose their homes and even source of livelihood in the process. It is also sad that we are attacking each other physically on the same.

I humbly request us the professionals, students, religious leaders, chiefs, media, village admins and other local leaders to be agents of change. Explain to our people the importance of this process we are all the agents of change.

For the media as you rightfully show the atrocities on the people let’s give the other side of the story the importance of this process and use our tools of communication to encourage a peaceful and inclusive process.

To the administration and the law enforcers you have to work in a humane way. Work with the local structures to get people to own and understand the process and how ultimately it does benefit them. I have a strong feeling this is not too much to ask and we can make Samburu the greatest place to be.

Naisula Lesuuda, OGW is the Samburu West MP