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Rift Valley Regional Commissioner's bold declaration on Mau Forest gets Ruto's support

The Mau Forest complex spans five counties and encompasses an area of approximately four hundred thousand hectares.

President William Ruto speaking in Busia on Saturday August 26, 2023

President William Ruto has declared a stern stance against encroachment on Kenya's vital water catchment areas, with a particular focus on the Mau Forest.

During the funeral of Titate Ole Sankei in Olopirik Village, Narok County, Ruto announced the immediate eviction of those living in Mau Forest and emphasised that there would be no negotiation with encroachers.

Ruto emphasised the significance of safeguarding water towers across the nation, with a strong commitment to protecting the Mau Forest, the largest water catchment area in East Africa, spanning an impressive 675,000 acres in the Rift Valley.

He explained the government's strategy, stating, "Among the 10 water towers we have in Kenya, Mau forest is the most important." The government has already secured financing to erect protective fences around all water towers.

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The decision to install these fences aims to deter further encroachment and conserve vital water catchment areas.

Ruto left no room for ambiguity, warning those already within the Mau Forest. "Those already in the forest (Mau) should get out immediately because we are putting up a fence. And it is not a request."

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan echoed Ruto's sentiments, urging all who have invaded the Mau Forest to vacate immediately.

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Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Hassan emphasised the importance of the forest as a natural resource and its critical role in water conservation. "This forest has been damaged. Half of the forest has been destroyed and continues to be destroyed," he lamented.

Hassan did not mince words when dealing with those who defied government orders and returned to the forest, categorizing them as criminals who would be dealt with accordingly.

This bold declaration of intent is not the first of its kind. Five years ago, a multi-agency effort was undertaken to evict squatters who had encroached upon the Mau Forest, highlighting the ongoing struggle to protect this invaluable resource.

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The Mau Forest complex spans five counties and encompasses an area of approximately four hundred thousand hectares. It plays a pivotal role in Kenya's ecological balance and the preservation of water sources that supply communities and agriculture.

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