Government to resettle 35,000 Maasai Mau evictees

William Ruto

President William Ruto (centre), his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other leaders during the interdenominational prayer service at William Ole Ntimama's Stadium in Narok County on January 29, 2023.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

The government has announced plans to resettle more than 35,000 Maasai Mau Forest evictees. 

This was revealed by President William Ruto at the William ole Ntimama Stadium on Sunday during an interdenominational prayer service.

The President said the government will compensate those who were evicted from the forest in 2019.

"The issue of Mau Forest is now over. What is remaining now is to complete fencing the water tower and planting trees. We are also going to look for alternative settlement for the evictees," said Dr Ruto.

The Head of State reiterated that the invasion of the forest should never recur.

Plant 15 billion trees

Dr Ruto also maintained that his government was upbeat to actualise the 15 billion trees in the next 10 years. He asked Kenyans to plant more trees to combat climate change.

He said the ongoing drought in different parts of the country will be a thing of the past should Kenyans plant more trees.

To tackle the drought, President Ruto revealed that his administration will construct 100 mega dams and 1000 water pans in pastoral counties. 

The families who were evicted from the land around the Mau Forest Complex in Narok County live in squalid conditions in two camps.

Hundreds of children who dropped out of school for lack of fees and uniforms work alongside their parents as casual labourers on farms near the camps to put food on the table.

Most girls of school age have been sexually exploited and have become mothers at a tender age in the camps at Tendwet and Olmekenyu in Narok South.

 Many people have also succumbed to various diseases in the two camps while many others are depressed after losing property and their livelihoods.

15 public schools

The evictees were ejected from Olaba, Kipchoge, Kitoben, Cheptuech, Mjerian, Kapkoros, Simboyon, Lemeonik, Tebeswet, Kabarak, Ndianit, Sagai Soi, Katama, Chemoko, Total, Milimani, Kiletien, Kamaech, Kipkurkot and Chelusto villages. The areas have been converted into forest land by the government.

Following the evictions, more than 15 public schools were shut down. The Teachers Service Commission transferred hundreds of teachers to other schools.

In October last year, the Maasai Mau Forest evictees were dealt a huge blow after the Narok Environment and Lands Court ruled the government was justified in evicting them.

The three-judge bench, comprising Mr John Mutungi, Mr Mohammed Kullow and Mr George Ong'ondo, constituted to hear their petition challenging the government’s move to evict people from the forest, also declared the evictees’ title deeds as irregularly issued and null and void.

The over 35,000 evictees argued that their title deeds were valid and that they deserved to be compensated by the government.

The evictees argued that the land they had settled in was a trust land and not a gazetted forest.