Mau Forest must stay protected in perpetuity

In Summary

• Around 60,000 people will soon be evicted from 21 blocks in the Mau Forest.

• Pressure on water towers will increase as Kenya's population increases to 160 million by the year 2100.

An aerial view Mau Forest.
An aerial view Mau Forest.
Image: FILE

The second phase of Mau Forest evictions has run into intense opposition from local politicians. They claim that there is ethnic discrimination by the Maasai against the Kipsigis.

Around 12,000 people have been evicted from the forest in the first phase but now another 60,000 people are due to leave 21 blocks in the second phase.

The Mau Forest is the upper catchment for the main rivers in Rift Valley and Western Kenya. Forest cover declined from 54,804 ha in 1990 to 21,740 ha in 2016. As a result, water flow in local rivers like the Mara and Ewaso Ngiro has become erratic.

Kenya's population is predicted to increase to 160 million by the year 2100 so the pressure on the Mau and other water towers will only increase in future.

Yet, without its water towers, Kenya will be condemned to permanent water shortages.

The starting point for debate over the Mau and other water towers must be that they are protected in perpetuity. Even local politicians should accept this. They should not politicise the evictions. Let them criticise the modalities but not the principle.

Quote of the day: "The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery."

Frederick Douglass
The future abolitionist escaped from slavery on September 3, 1838.