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Protect key water towers – Daily Nation

by kenya-tribune

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The invasion and destruction of the major water towers, including the Mau Forest Complex, has quite rightly been blamed for the drying up of some rivers that have for years sustained people and wildlife. The devastation of the water catchment areas has been clearly documented and need not be politicised.

The benefits of conservation are quite obvious. Not long ago, Deputy President William Ruto slapped a ban on logging to protect the forests and other vegetation. And, indeed, there has been some good progress and one would have expected other leaders to fully support this. The eviction of the squatters from forests has always been an emotive, but essential national campaign.

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the impending fresh eviction of invaders from this same water tower has become a source of political acrimony and threats. Here are people who understand why the catchment area should be cleared of illegal settlements, but who have no scruples about politicising the matter. They have been whipping up emotions, citing the fact that 60,000 families will be affected, and this at a time when schools are about to reopen.

The government must conserve the water towers, but is now being accused of unfairly planning to kick some of its citizens out of their homes. It is important, therefore, that those seeking to make political mileage out of this potentially divisive issue are told off. The critics of the evictions claim that this is private land that should not be interfered with. That would be a lame excuse, as it is obvious that the government can forcibly acquire private land for essential public use.

Environmental experts have warned about the danger posed by the continuing destruction of this water tower, whose usefulness transcends its regional borders. Instead of engaging in petty political fights over it, there is a need to seek a more comprehensive solution that will cater for the needs of the invaders and protect this vital national resource. It is possible, as has happened in the past, to explore the possibility of resettling the squatters elsewhere. After all, where there is a will there is a way.

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