Kenyan families flee Embobut forest to avoid forced evictions by police

8 January 2014

Families in Kenya were reportedly fleeing their homes and taking what possessions they could on Tuesday after police gathered near the Embobut forest to evict thousands of indigenous Sengwer people and others said to be threatening urban water supplies.

The forest, in the Cherangani hills near the town of Eldoret in western Kenya, has been the ancestral home of marginalised hunter-gatherer Sengwer communities for centuries, but the area has been invaded in the past 20 years by many thousands of other people seeking land to grow food.

The authorities claim the result has been wholesale destruction of the forest and the drying up of rivers that provide drinking water and irrigation for many nearby towns and villages. Exact numbers of people living in the forest are uncertain, but estimates range from 7,000 to 15,000.

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