The Star: Mau evictions are harsh but necessary

TWO months ago there was drought in Kenya.

Now that it is raining, it is easy to forget that simple fact.

When there was drought, no-one disputed the need to evict settlers from the Mau Forest. Everyone understood that it was life and death for the nation.

The Mau is the largest of Kenya's five water towers, equal to Mt Kenya and the Aberdares put together. It must be protected.

Now that it is raining, people have decided that they can play politics with the evictions. That is a big mistake.

Relocation from the Mau Forest should go ahead but it must be handled humanely.

The total area of encroached or settled forest affects 34,000 households.

The present phase of evictions in the eastern and south-western Mau affects 1,700 families without title deeds.

Regrettably they cannot be compensated. Illegal squatters cannot be rewarded but they should be assisted to return to their places of origin.

However the government must identify land for the resettlement of the 30,000 households with land titles in 2010. They are legally entitled to it.

Kenya must push ahead with the relocation, harsh as it may seem, as the alternative is too bleak to contemplate.

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