A video from the BBC which shows how Africans are working together to combat the climate change in Mali.

Evictions in the Mau Forest

November 20, 2009

Daniel M. Kobei, an Ogiek leader, told New York Times reporter, “Tell Obama and his men to help us.  It’s not that we’re special, but this forest is our home.”

The Ogiek are Kenya’s traditional forest dwellers and honey hunters, living off the land in Mau Forest. Unfortunately, however, the Ogiek will now be in search of a new land as the government looks to remove settlers from the region, close to 25,000 people.

The hope is to conserve the delicate ecosystem of the forest.  The Environment News Service writes that the forest provides Kenya and the region with  ‘river flow regulation, flood mitigation, water storage, reduced soil erosion, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, carbon reservoir and microclimate regulation’.

But due to heavy deforestation and a regional water crisis, the government plans to clear the forest in order to plant millions of trees.

But at what cost to those living there?

The Standard writes,

“The possession of a parcel of land, even if tenuous or without legal backing, is the only access to capital for most. Losing it, as well as the harvest on it, will reduce many to destitution. Thus, it is imperative they get help from the Government and organizations like the Kenya Red Cross Society.”

According to the Daily Nation, the Kenyan government started delivering food aid last week for squatters evicted from the Mau Forest such as maize, beans and vegetable oil.

The sudden interest in environmentalism by the Kenyan politicians is breeding suspicious for those that once called the Mau Forest home.

“The government wants that forest for economic reasons, not conservation reasons,” said Towett Kimaiyo, an Ogiek leader. “The only people who are going to benefit are the saw-millers.”

Do you think that the settlers in the Mau Forest should be compensated, with or without a title deed?  What about the Ogiek who have lived on the land for centuries and have proven to take care of the region?