The Mau Forest Complex (MFC) is the largest forest left in Kenya –as big as the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares combined. It is also the most important of Kenya’s five major Water Towers. Some 30 million people depend on water sources originating in the Mau-in Kenya and beyond. The Mau Forest Complex supports key economic sectors in Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces, particularly agriculture and tourism. The market value of tea and tourism –in which the Mau plays a vital role –is more than Kshs 20 billion a year. The Mau sustains some of the country’s most valuable tourism sites including the Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru.
The US Government has designed a $6.5 project called ProMara-“For the Mara. In addition US Government will provide $350,000 in assistance to the Ministry of Lands for boundary surveys and registration of title deeds for the Southwestern Mau and Trans-Mara Forest Reserves in support of the Government of Kenya’s plan to rehabilitate the Mau Forest Complex. ProMara will help restore the health of critical water catchments, restore the forests rich biodiversity, support community groups to help manage natural resources and improve livelihoods.
The project will work with Community Forest Associations (CFA), Water Resource Users Associations and the private sector to expand business opportunities in ways that will nurture not only communities but also the land. It will also explore possibilities of payment to communities for their work in conserving water and trees.
It will also support an intensive public awareness campaign on resident’s rights, relevant laws, and what restoring the Mau will mean for everyone. This will include establishing of the Mara outreach centre which will help mobilize youth around sustainable forestry and agriculture; offer legal services; organize peace-building and dialogue on conservation, land and livelihood.
Story by Lydia Ogada