By David Ochami and Vitalis Kimutai
Eighty-three per cent of Kenyans support Government efforts to evict illegal settlers from Mau Forest and other catchments.
And only 23.6 per cent support claims by Rift Valley MPs and some ministers that the Mau rehabilitation and evacuation of settlers is inhumane.
According to an opinion poll released on Monday, the crisis over the Mau Forest Complex could derail the reform agenda.
Most respondents, however, attribute the current food crisis to drought related to wanton environmental destruction. They also accuse those opposed to the evictions of malice.
- 1 Accurate maps to guide human settlement and conservation
- 2 State signs deal for fencing Maasai Mau forest
- 3 State kicks off resettlement of warring communities
- 4 Partnerships key in promoting domestic and international tourism
Conducted between December 12 and December 16 among 3,000 people in all provinces, the poll by Strategic Relations and Research Limited shows support for conservation falls below the national average in the Rift Valley Province at 77.8 per cent.
The organisation’s CEO Ceasar Handa released the poll results, indicating 91 per cent of Kenyans were affected by drought whose cause they believe is depletion of forest cover.
Support for the Government’s efforts also falls below the national average in Central and Eastern Provinces at 78.7 per cent and 76.2 per cent, respectively.
Support for the evictions is highest in North Eastern Province at 93.8 per cent followed by Coast at 91.6 per cent, Nyanza with 90.1 per cent, Nairobi at 85.4 per cent and Western’s 86.8 per cent.
Politicians from Rift Valley led by Agriculture Minister William Ruto have opposed the evacuations, arguing it is inhumane. The poll also reveals 44.9 per cent of Kenyans link drought to depletion of forests while 37.7 per cent believe drought is caused by global climatic changes.
It shows 71 per cent of respondents are critical of ministers and leaders opposed to the evictions, believing the opposition is political.
A few (27.9 per cent) believe reports of inhumane treatment of forest squatters and settlers are true and should be investigated.
And 27.5 per cent of respondents said the critics should be ignored while 1.7 per cent demanded the ministers’ imprisonment for incitement.
Meanwhile, eight Rift Valley MPs have asked the Government not repossess tea estates in the Mau Forest, claiming the farms are friendly to the environment.
The leaders, who include Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey, said the tea estates were a source of income to residents.
At the same time, MPs Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi), Julius Kones (Konoin) Lucas Chepkitony (Keiyo North), Elijah Lagat (Emgwen), Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Jackson Kiptanui (Keiyo South), Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu) and Kosgey (Tinderet) separately said the law on compulsory acquisition should be followed.
They said landowners with title deeds or land purchase agreements should be fully paid.