KARA scolds govt over Mau complex

June 5, 2009 12:00 am
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 – Religious leaders and the Kenya Alliance of Resident Association  (KARA)  have accused the government of politicising a report issued by a 21-member taskforce on conservation of the Mau  forest complex.

They have now called on Prime Minister Raila Odinga to release the report issued to him earlier this year and said conflicting statements from politicians were confusing those who had settled in the forest.

“We are not happy because the Prime Minister is silent on the taskforce report.  We know public resources were used to do that report and we want to challenge the PM to release it even if some of the members of the taskforce did not agree with the content,” KARA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mutoro.
 
Four members of the taskforce had been opposed to the report and refused to sign it.
 
“We need to have a way forward because Mau is actually a regional issue, it is not only a Kenyan issue or for a specific province neither is it for a set of politicians in this country,” he added.

The taskforce was set up by the Prime Minister in July last year to formulate concrete actions of restoring the Mau forest by December last year. The report has been ready since March this year but is yet to be made public.

The Mau complex is one of the five major water towers in Kenya and is crucial for the provision of water in the country.

At the same time, as World Environment Day was marked, the groups called on the government to ensure the environment was a key issue in the constitution review process.

“Very few people are talking about the constitution and environment. People are talking about the constitution and devolution only…  We can’t eat devolution. We can’t eat justice if there is no good environment,” he emphasised.

He also called on Treasury to ensure adequate budgetary allocation for the environment sector.

“The people who support us are actually donors. This is good but you know sometimes it borders on sovereignty of our country. If we do not prioritize environment in terms of budgetary allocation, how will we respect ourselves?” he posed. 
At the same time, as the World Environment Day was marked, the groups called on the government to ensure environment was a key issue in the constitution review process that has been in the pipeline for close to two decades.

Mr Mutoro said this would give the private sector and civil society organisations incentives to promote environment.

“Very few people are talking about the constitution and environment. People are talking about the constitution and devolution only… we can’t eat devolution, we can’t eat justice if there is no good environment,” he emphasised.

He also called on Treasury to ensure adequate budgetary allocation for the environment sector.

“The people who support us are actually donors. This is good but you know sometimes it borders on sovereignty of our country. If we do not prioritize environment in terms of budgetary allocation, how will we respect ourselves?” he posed. 

Meanwhile, a study funded by Norway’s Government states that paying people to protect forests could be an effective way to tackle deforestation and climate change but only if there was good governance of natural resources.

The study however warned that such payments alone were not enough and said they would be effective only if key economic, cultural, institutional and information conditions were met and if payment schemes monitor impacts on poor communities to ensure equity and avoid social harm.

The report came as government negotiators meet in Bonn to hammer out a global policy to address climate change. The deal will have forest conservation at its core as deforestation and forest degradation accounts for about 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The new study by researchers at IIED, the World Resources Institute and the Centre for International Forestry Research looked at existing efforts to pay people in developing nations to protect ecosystems in return for the services — such as fresh water, wild foods and climate control — they provide.

“Effective and equitable governance will be the key to successful payment schemes,” says lead author Ivan Bond, a senior researcher at IIED.

“Unfortunately, governance tends to be weakest in the very places where deforestation is greatest. Communities need clear land rights if they are to gain from payments that flow to their countries in return for forest protection.”

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