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KWS yet to pay Sh2.2bn compensation for human-wildlife conflicts - AG

NAIROBI
By Caroline Chebet | January 15th 2019

A performance audit report assessing the effectiveness of measures put in place by KWS shows service is yet to pay out compensation worth Sh2.2 billion. [Photo, Standard]

A performance audit report assessing the effectiveness of measures put in place by the Kenya Wildlife Service in protecting wildlife has revealed that the service is yet to pay out compensation amounting to Sh 2.2 billion for injury and deaths.

The report by the Auditor General Edward Ouko revealed that cases presented for consideration for compensation by the KWS are yet to be paid since 2013, while the service is also yet to operationalize 35 County Wildlife conservation and compensation committees.

The report noted that although the KWS was supposed to set up the committees in each of the 47 Counties, as mandated by the 2013 Wildlife At, the Service had only set up 35 by November 2015, almost two years after current 2013 Wildlife Act came in to force.

The committee was supposed to bring the community on board in wildlife conservation through engagement, awareness coordination, mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts, compensation and benefit sharing.

“Furthermore, the 35 committees that were set up were yet to be operationalized. Interviews with Assistant Directors revealed that nobody has of yet been compensated for either loss of life or property damage since 2013.The cases for compensation presented for consideration amounted to Ksh. 2,235,388,000 for injury and deaths,” a section of the report reads.

Due to lack of awareness, compensation and benefits sharing, the report found, the community has not fully embraced wildlife conservation and rather than being seen as a community resource, they view wildlife as KWS-owned.

The report noted that wildlife crime has been on the increase especially in the areas outside wildlife protected areas where people resort to poaching as a result of poverty, human-wildlife conflict and demand for wildlife products in the illegal market.

This, the report found, has led to increased Human Wildlife Conflict as well as opportunistic poaching.

In the report, the KWS however disagreed with the findings but however failed to provide evidence of the released funds at the time of the audit.

At the time of the audit 2,303 cases were still pending awaiting compensation. KWS management informed the audit that this was treasury’s docket and not KWS. KWS mandate was to gather data of affected persons and dispense funds as received.

The KWS noted that all pending cases before enactment of the Act 2013 had been processed and presented to the ministry for payment.

The service argued that a total of 230 million was released to the victims, injured and killed by wildlife as from January 2013 to march 2015, while funds amounting to Sh 2,235,388,000 were approved by county wildlife conservation and compensation committee for payments in favor of 274 deaths and 2029 injury cases.

The cases, the service noted, had been approved by the ministerial wildlife compensation committee.

“By mid-2017, KWS had received a further 230 million towards death cases caused by wildlife specified in schedule III of the Act. Many other cases of injuries caused by wildlife such as predation, crop and property destruction have been recommended for payment by the 47 county committees. KWS awaits the release of these funds by the state,” the report noted.

The KWS management, Auditor general noted, did not provide of the released funds at the time of the audit nor at the time of the response.

 “Therefore, the finding remains as reported. The office shall verify this information in a follow up audit,” reads the report.

The report further reveals that most of the parks did not have management plans while those that had were outdated with the most recent one running from 2002 to 2012.

The outdated management plant, the audit report fond, resulted in annual work plans that have failed to tackle the current challenges facing wildlife conservation.

“The audit established that most of the parks did not have management plans and those that had they were outdated with the most recent one running from 2002 to 2012.These outdated management plans result in annual work plans that have failed to tackle the current challenges facing wildlife conservation,” the report noted.

The report however concluded that the KWS security measures have not been effective in curbing wildlife insecurity as there has been continued loss of wildlife through poaching and human-wildlife conflicts.

Between 2010 and 2015 KWS lost 1,607 animals through human wildlife conflicts and 465 through poaching.

In his recommendations, the Auditor general noted that the KWS should give priority to formation of County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee in all the counties as it is responsible for carrying out critical functions and mandate of the service.

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