EU cautions Kenya on Mau forest

July 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – The European Union (EU) has asked politicians to quickly agree on how to resolve the Mau Forest controversy.

In an interview with Capital News, Acting Swedish Ambassador Bjorn Haggmark said the water towers are in a deplorable situation that requires urgent action.

“What is important now is a political solution.  Time is ripe for decisions regarding the conservation of Mau.  There are many concerns and there is need to actively to find answers,” he said.

He further said even after reaching a political solution, implementation of what is agreed mattered most.

He noted compensation of people living in the forest which has been at the centre of the political bickering was also a sensitive issue that called for an agreement from the country’s leadership.

Mr Haggmark expressed shock at the extent of the destruction he saw when EU members overflew the complex last week.

“From my brief visit, I witnessed a magnificent land mark and an important ecosystem no for just Kenya but the region.  I was struck by the extent of degradation through encroachment,” he said.

He pointed out it was vital for the country to prevent the heavy negative effects that were already being felt before it was too late.

He said Kenya’s tourism ecosystem, agriculture and the environment were affected, and stressed the need to work on a quick solution that will see the forest salvaged.

He said restoration of Mau was also a sure way of boosting development as well as creating employment.

He said the EU was committed to help Kenya restore its most important water catchment area.

“First we need decisions from Kenya’s authorities and then we can look into possibilities for support.  For now it is too early to say how development partners could support effective measures to rehabilitate Mau forest,” he said.

Resettlement of people living in the complex has been at the centre of controversy with the political class seriously differing on the issue of eviction and compensation.

Those against the compensation argue that the occupants should not have inhabited the water catchment in the first place.

They have also alleged that most of the land in the forest is owned by influential personalities in the current and former regimes.


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