KERICHO, Kenya, Dec 9 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday assured settlers in the Mau complex that the government was determined to offer them alternative land once they voluntarily agreed to be resettled elsewhere.,
He appealed to the South Rift communities to support the initiative in a bid to save the fragile Mau ecosystem from further depletion.
“Plans are underway to secure an alternative site for the possible evictees ahead of the resettlement exercise,” said Mr Odinga who also censured a section of leaders for telling area residents that the government was not considerate to the plight of the settlers.
“Nobody will be removed from the Mau forest without being given an alternative site for resettlement,” he emphasised.
The PM said the exercise would be conducted in a humane manner to the satisfaction of all parties involved. He said most of the people likely to be affected during the resettlement exercise voted for him during the last general election.
“We have to firmly deal with environmental issues but I will not forcibly evict the settlers but resettle them elsewhere in a humane manner so that the consequences of irreversible depletion of the ecosystem in the Mau complex does not affect the locals,” he said.
The Prime Minister made the assurance to hundreds of Kericho residents after gracing the official opening ceremony of Ndege Chai House in the town.
Mr Odinga encouraged local communities in the tea growing zones to invest in savings.
“This will ensure that you pull out of the vicious circle of poverty as envisaged by the Vision 2030 to improve financial services in the rural areas,” he said.
The Premier said the development of co-operative societies and other financial institutions was key in promoting savings at village levels citing the example of Ndege Savings and Credit Co-operative Society whose investment base rose from a paltry Sh12,000 worth of shares in 1978 to more than Sh850 million this year.
He underscored the need for empowerment of rural business communities and farmers through inception of co-operative societies that could offer loans and act as financial mobilisers in rural areas.
“Co-operatives can overcome the challenges of borrowing funds at exorbitant interest rates from commercial banks through encouraging communities within their locality to adopt a saving culture through affordable and attractive products,” Mr Odinga said.
He however urged the management of co-operative society to adhere to professionalism and high integrity.