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Nandi forest evictees announce plan to stage demonstration

NANDI
By BY MICHAEL OLLINGA | May 20th 2014

BY MICHAEL OLLINGA

Nandi County: Serengonik Forest evictees in Nandi County have announced a plan to stage a major demonstration to the county government to compel the governor and county commissioner to spearhead their recognition for resettlement.

The evictees comprising the Ogiek/Ndorobo community who were removed from the forest in 2006 say that their situation in the road reserves they are operating within is worsening with each day.

William Buigut, chairperson Nandi County Forest Evictees said that the peaceful demonstration is meant to remind the Government that there are citizens who are not accessing their constitutional right of having an abode.

“We do not have any other place to call home since we were evicted from the forest which was our natural habitat despite the government promising to give us an alternative land,” he said.

Buigut told The Standard that it is not understood why the 3000 families that are homeless have not been considered by the jubilee government they voted in and has so far settled evictees in other regions of the country.

“Nandi County residents voted for Uhuru Kenyatta’s and his Deputy William Ruto’s leadership, it is sad that they have since turned a blind eye on us as we continue to lose kinsmen to diseases and hunger,” he explained.

The chairperson confirmed that the evictees’ situation has become a nightmare since the government feeding programme they largely depended on was stopped in December last year.

School feeding programmes were also stopped leading to low school attendance by hungry children who opt to stay at home and help parents find something to put on the table through labouring to those with land.

“The rainy period has predisposed us to respiratory diseases like pneumonia and we have even buried one of us who succumbed to the disease. The unhygienic nature of not having a home have also led to many cases of typhoid here,” he stated.

He added that: “It is a worse nightmare to bury the deceased as we have no land, in the recent case we had to
ask a well-wisher for space in his land to lay to rest oneof us, this is very disheartening.”

Buigut was also concerned that the hunger and poverty levels within the families has made them to be reduced to
labourers for those who have land.

“Young girls are also lured by old men who come here with money and are being sexually abused, since they dearly need food and other basic needs,” he added.

Christopher Lagat the coordinator of the Nandi County evictees echoed Buigut’s sentiments and challenged the  
national leadership to allow them to return to theirindigenous homes (forest) if it cannot settle them.

“We are giving the government until June 1st to give a resettlement plan or we will return to the forests, we are taxpayers and citizens of this nation yet we do not enjoy basic human rights,” he said.

The leaders also insinuated that the government’s neglect may be due to the continuous criticism from their MP Alfred Keter urging the national leaders to prioritize citizens’ needs over personal differences.

Keter who was present at the burial of the deceased evictee called on the president to intervene in the matter and help the families a place to live.

“These families have been denied the right of access to education, health and home which should not happen to any rightful citizen, my advice to the presidency is that they should fulfill all their pledges, resettlement included,” he uttered.

The areas where the evictees are camping have registered low pupils’ turnout since the beginning of second term raising concern among education stakeholders.

Boniface Tenai, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) executive secretary Nandi East and Tinderet branches challenged the government to reinstate feeding programmes in the region and speed resettlement of affected families.

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