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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Preservation of Kenya forest is national emergency

NAROK, Kenya (Reuters) - Maasai goatherd Joseph Nkolia points dismissively at two shallow pools, the only water in a parched stream west of the Kenyan town of Narok.

"It rained yesterday and look at it," he says.

"Two years ago it used to flow strongly through here. Now I often have to get a lorry to bring water from Narok for us and our animals, and it costs a lot." His flock wanders past without bothering to drink the scant brown water.

The stream is a tributary of the Ewaso Ngiro, one of 12 rivers fed from the Mau Complex, Kenya's biggest forest and a vital water catchment in the west of the country.

Destruction of the woodland by rampant illegal settlement, logging and charcoal burning threatens severe damage to Kenya's economy with an impact on energy, tourism, agriculture and water supply to cities and industry.

A familiar Kenyan saga of corruption, illegal landgrabs and the use of state resources to buy votes has destroyed a quarter of the 400,000 hectare forest in the last decade, with an impact that may be felt as far away as Egypt.

Read on

The painting is by Laura Tasheiko

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