EU suspends US $34.92m water towers initiative in Kenya

The European Union (EU) has suspended its US $34.92m water towers initiative with Kenya following violent Seng’wer community evictions.

According to the statement KFS wardens shot dead a herder while evicting the Sengwer community from the forest. EU ambassador to Kenya Stefano Dejak said the union had warned against use of force by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) guards.

Locals said the security officers also critically injured another herder when they stormed the forest at Kisitona area in Kapyego ward. This is barely a week after the EU called for dialogue to end the row over the ongoing eviction.

Also read: Survey reveals access to clean water in Kenya declines

Unauthorized evictions

The ambassador noted the EU insists on full respect for the rights of indigenous people. This is because the 15,000 people community have a permit to live in the forest. Dejak expressed regret that the conservation work on the water towers had to involve any evictions or use of violence.

The EU-funded program is the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Program. It was officially launched in June 2016. Since then it has provided technical support and funding to the national government.

The program seeks to protect ground supplies of water in the Mount Elgon and the Cherangani Hills areas of Kenya. The water towers store rainwater, enable regular river flows, recharge ground-water storage, improve soil fertility, reduce erosion and sediment in river water.

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