The Mau ecosystem and other key water towers in the country are under great threat.
The danger stems from systematic human encroachment on the crucial ecosystems, which is likely to lead to permanent catastrophic changes in the country’s ecological conditions.
The threat is critical as the country’s forest cover has reduced from 12 percent at independence to less than 2 percent currently, according to government statistics.
My take here is that President Mwai Kibaki, who has less than four years left at State House, should drive the rehabilitation of the ecosystems as part of his legacy.
I’m greatly encouraged by his statement early this week that families squatting within the Mau forest would be resettled elsewhere to ensure the rehabilitation of the ecosystem.
The Head of State should now organise to visit the other four water towers and spread the same message.
He should rally those living near Mount Kenya, Arberdares, Cherangani and Mount Elgon to support these efforts and ensure the well being of future generations.
These efforts would put to a stop the unjustifiable depletion of the country’s forest cover that has resulted in loss of biodiversity and vital water catchments.
The head of state should however consider giving the genuine squatters alternative land, while the joy riders should be given adequate notice to vacate. Those who resist the efforts of the Commander in Chief should be kicked out forcefully.
Members of Parliament from these areas who are always opposed to the eviction of their voters regardless of any argument must also be told that these water towers provide sustenance of livelihoods for millions of Kenyans.
The Mau Complex, for example, supports the livelihoods of approximately 13 million people in Kenya and Tanzania.
The forests have a direct impact on the performance of key sectors in the economies of the two countries, particularly the agricultural and livestock sectors.
Those who are opposed to evictions from the ecosystem should be told that the current drought and food shortages being experienced in the country are as a result of climatic change occasioned by human activities in the water towers.
As President Kibaki stares at his last years in power, the rehabilitation of the five water towers in the country would accord him a legacy that his great grandchildren would be proud to talk about.