, NAKURU, Kenya, Dec 19 – Sixty members of the Ogiek Council of Elders have been elected by the Interim Coordinating Secretariat (ICS) on Mau Restoration, to assist the government in restoring the Mau Forest Complex.
ICS chairman Hassan Noor Hassan said the forest had been divided into five blocks where the Ogiek had settled, namely Tinderet Nandi, Koibatek Forest, South Western Mau, Eastern and Maasai Mau.
Speaking in Nakuru during a meeting with Ogiek leaders on Friday, Mr Hassan said that the elders would help the secretariat pick on the best areas in the forest to resettle the community.
“ICS does not have special plans for the Ogiek. It is the team that you are going to pick today that will help us identify where to settle you and how you are going to ensure that area where you live in are well conserved,” he said.
The committee will consist of 10 men and two women from each block.
Environmental experts and technical advisers from various institutions are also involved in the exercise.
The Ogiek Community is the only group immune to the ongoing eviction of the Mau.
Mr Hassan pointed out that the Mau Taskforce had recommended that the community had titles over Mau as their ancestral land.
“We are mandated to implement the recommendation of the Mau Taskforce and we are not going beyond these requirements,” said the chairman.
The ICS was established in mid September 2009, to coordinate the restoration of the badly depleted water tower.
Mr Hassan said that the government had since recovered 24,000 hectares of the Mau complex in the on-going evictions.
He said the first phase of the evictions targeted areas that had been excised but not subdivided and allocated to people.
Such areas are Likia Extension where 530 hectares were restored, LR25148 in Eastern Mau with 1,050 ha and Marioshoni where another 2950 ha were recovered.
He said South Western Mau was actually in the second phase and that 19,000 ha were reverted to the government.
The ICS chief said that the number of forest rangers manning the Mau was inadequate and suggested an addition of 450 rangers.
“We have a mere 182 forest rangers to patrol the 400,000 hectares Mau forest Complex we need more officers for better monitoring,” he said.