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Government vs Nandi community

05 April 2012, 15:15 Steve Wambugu

As the rainy season is just around the corner, efforts by the government to construct a dam worth of KES 230 million cubic meters on 20,000 hectares of South Nandi Forest in Rift Valley Province has been met with firm opposition from the Nandi community residing in that area and other conservation lobby groups who have vowed not to allow any such project to take place.

The conservation lobby groups and the Nandi community who are against the project say that if the dam was to be constructed in that area it will adversely affect the vegetation in that area which in return will rework the weather pattern and have a negative effect on area habitants.

“Yes the government wants to construct the dam but have they thought about how many trees will be brought down for the set up of that dam?” asks Jackson Mbambo an officer with a lobby group for conservation.

south nandi forest

Mbambo added that the construction of that dam at the convergence of Kimindo river and Sirua river inside the forest means the government will have to clear 1,815 hectors of trees which translates up to about 10 million trees that will be destroyed in order to come up with the space for construction.

“A dam at the confluence of river Kimonde and river Sirua inside the forest, the government will intends to clear 1, 815 hectares of the forest to set up the dam, this is likely to destroy up to 10, million trees,” said Jackson.

The Nandi community living from just adjacent to the South Nandi Forest is of the opinion that the government should have consulted first with the community before embarking on their construction plans.

south nandi forest

“We are the ones involved in protection and conservation of this forest, the government has not consulted us to get our views before constructing the dam, there is no any binding agreement on how we shall use the waters of the dam,” Peter Kiptanui, chairman of Kobujoi Community Forest Association in Nandi said.

According to the Environment Management and Coordination Act, the law that provides guidelines for environmental protection, (EIA) a report must be done and submitted and all stakeholders involved.

However the Chairman Peter Kaboka, of Lake Basin Development Authority LBDA which is a body under the Ministry of Regional Development Authorities mandated to implement the project says that all stakeholders would be consulted before the implementation of the of the project.

“It is not a one sided project, it is going to benefit even the Nandi community through electricity, irrigation, fishing and tourism, the project cannot however be relocated because hydro-power project is a very specific project,” Kabok said.

The communities living in the area seems not to be only ones left out of the loop as KWS another government organ is also claiming not to have been consulted on the ongoing dam project.

south nandi forest

“Yes the idea intended is good but the government should have consulted far and wider as to retain this forest to its original form will take some time” said Albert Nyaguti, (KFS) Forest Manager Nandi South Zone says.

And so the residence of Nandi community staying near South Nandi Forest are living each second guessing what will be the government stand over the multi-million dam project.

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