22 September 2005

Kenya: 250 Families Kicked Out of Forest Land

Nairobi — More than 250 families were yesterday evicted from a forest.

The families, which had settled in Kipkunur forest in Marakwet District, had allegedly destroyed over 40 acres of trees.

The operation, which took those affected unawares, was conducted by a contingent of armed security personnel comprising regular and Administration Police officers and forest guards.

The district security committee ordered the eviction after the families defied several government notices.

The families invaded the forest four years ago, having come from Kapyego Division in Marakwet East.

They left behind their farms planted with maize, potatoes, pyrethrum, onions and other crops. They pleaded with the Government to allow them to return and harvest their crops after maturing in a month's time.

Local district commissioner Kenneth Lusaka warned the invaders against going back to the disputed land. However, he promised the families they would be allowed to harvest their crops but under supervision.

District forest officer Dennis Kerengo said over 5,000 squatters had invaded government forests in the area.

- A circular by the ministry of Lands restricting subdivision of land has minimised operations at the lands office in Nyamira District.

The circular by the permanent secretary, Mr Erastus Mwongera, ordered land control boards to stop allowing sub-division of agricultural land into units that are not viable for agricultural use.

The Government set the minimum acreage at 2.5 acres (one hectare).

District lands registrar John Fundia said there were 99,701 farm holdings with an average farm size of one hectare and owners had stopped seeking subdivision since the PS issued the directive.

This has caused an uproar from area leaders, who read economic sabotage.

Former Nyamira town council chairman Charles Sagwe said the move would deny the younger generation the right to own their ancestral land.

Lawyer Dennis Abincha and Mr Sagwe complained that most young people would not have title deeds.

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