22 August 2006

Kenya: Water Talks Focus On Destruction of Mau Forest

Sweden — The destruction of Mau forest yesterday dominated talks at a meeting on water.

Participants at the World Water Week Conference accused politicians in Kenya and Tanzania of doing little to save the threatened ecosystem, which is the source of 12 rivers.

Lack of political will was to blame for the destruction of the forest, said Mrs Doris Ombara Okundi, a project officer at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

"Government-led excision, logging and charcoal burning are to blame for the wanton destruction of the ecosystem," said Mrs Okundi, who was accompanied by her husband, Rangwe MP Philip Okundi.

More than 10,000 people were settled in the forest, which destroyed its fragile ecosystem, said Mrs Okundi.

Participants accused the Government of failing to solve the controversial settlement of squatters in the forest, who they said were partly to blame for the forest's destruction.

If not checked, the destruction of the forest would result in the death of the thriving tourism sector in both Kenya and Tanzania, warned Mrs Okundi.

She said, the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem earned Kenya more than Sh800 million annually, and the figure was higher for Tanzania.

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