The government of Kenya has released over 500-million shillings to compensate victims of Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC). The funds will clear a backlog of claims filed between the year 2014 and 2021.
Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala made the announcement in Baringo County where he launched the National HWC compensation drive at Kampi ya Samaki Snake Park located close to Lake Baringo.
The Cabinet Secretary further announced that the government will allocate more funds for compensation in the next financial year of 2021-2022. He said his ministry will soon launch an online app-based compensation system to fast- track the approval period to three months.
Balala explained that the app will be connected to e-citizen and huduma number for ease of access and to guard against fraud. “The management of human wildlife conflicts demands adoption of various approaches, and requires collaborative arrangements involving both state, non state actors and stakeholders for tangible results to be achieved”, he said.
Calling for harmonious co-existence between human and wildlife, the CS said, “Wildlife belongs to all of us and I appeal for patriotism in conserving this important national treasure. I exhort, and indeed encourage communities to co-exist harmoniously with wildlife and practice wildlife ventures and enterprises that will improve livelihoods”.
Balala urged members of the public to familiarize themselves with the procedures of filing compensation claims. “The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 provides for the establishment of County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees. These committees comprise of a chairperson appointed by the Cabinet Secretary, and this is the County Commissioner, four persons who are not public servants nominated by community, an officer from the Service who is the secretary and other relevant technical officers at the County Government level”, the CS elaborated.
He said these committees review all the lodged claims and makes appropriate recommendations to the Ministerial Wildlife Compensation Committee that validates and approves payment of the awards by the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees. The CS said it was important for him to explain this process because there has been misconception that it is Kenya Wildlife Service that is responsible for HWC compensation.
The CS said his ministry will review a decision made in 2018 to stop compensation for snake bites after the cases become overwhelming. He also promised to work towards inviting companies dealing with anti-venom to Baringo County to venture in the production of antidote for treatment of victims of snake bites.
Speaking during the same occasion, the Principal Secretary for State Department of wildlife Prof. Fred Segor challenged compensation vetting committees to be thorough and diligent while scrutinizing claims to guard against abuse of compensation provisions.
Prof. Segor said Baringo County has 16 conservancies and called on local leaders to mobilise communities to establish more to attract tourists in the area to spur economic growth.
Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru stated that the organisation’s mandate is to protect both human beings and wildlife inside and outside protected areas. He dispelled the notion that KWS is more keen to protect wildlife than human beings, noting 65% of wildlife live outside protected areas.
Brigadier (Rtd) Waweru while responding to claims by local leaders on unavailability of compensation claim forms promised to make the forms available at the grassroots level, starting from chiefs’ offices to enable all victims of HWC file their claims on time.