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

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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?

African leaders are hoping major progress will be made during the UN’s climate conference in Copenhagen (COP15) which is scheduled to begin December 7.  Many believe the conference will be crucial in fighting world hunger.

As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there could be “no food security without climate security.”

Food security is an obvious problem for many developing countries who are already wielding from the current economic situation.  However, they may be disappointed to hear that U.S. President Barack Obama along with other world leaders will most likely opt out of signing any legally binding climate pact until at least next year, according to African Reuters.  But, they also reported that European negotiators have said the move did not imply weaker action.

Still, human rights activist and international executive director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, stated in an article for BBC that leaders need to take serious action now.  Arguing that

“Nature does not negotiate.  It will not wait for our political leaders to set aside their petty differences and short term self interest. It will not wait for civil society to join in common cause.”

In a video address, Archbishop Desmond Tutu winner stated that 185,000,000 Africans will die this century as a direct result of climate change.  He goes on to say,

“As I speak, famine is increasing.  Flooding is increasing. As is disease and insecurity globally because of water scarcity.  It is the countries which are the least responsible for causing climate change that are paying the heaviest price.”

Salifou Sawadogo, Burkina Faso’s environment minister, was quoted in October as saying Africa would need $65 billion to cope with the effects of global warming and along with other African leaders have asked to set up a global fund for the continent’s developing countries.

The Global Post reports that “moves to keep global warming down to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius could cost developing countries $140 billion to $675 billion a year, according to the World Bank. Adapting to global warming — as opposed to trying to stem it — could cost $75 billion a year.”

On a blog hosted by Cop15.dk, chairman of Malian NGO MFC Nyetaa Ibrahim Togola said,

“If the world leaders fail to understand this signal by not having an agreement in Copenhagen, then we should expect more displacement of people from one area to another and increase conflicts that could be critical for democracy and security in the World.”