The government has set aside Sh1.1 billion this year to compensate victims of human-wildlife conflict, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peninah Malonza has said.
Ms. Malonza said the money will go towards clearing the backlog of claims totaling 2,600, even as she announced that her ministry was working on a strategy for ensuring timely compensation going forward.
The CS said the Ministry had also disbursed Sh900 million to claimants who had waited for the last 14 years to be compensated.
Speaking on Wednesday at the University of Embu grounds during this year’s national UN-World Tourism Day celebrations, CS Malonza said the government was committed to ensuring all the claims were settled by the end of the year.
She announced plans to establish an insurance scheme that will ensure timely compensation for victims once they are hurt by wild animals or their property is destroyed.
The CS stressed that the government had intensified plans to fence wildlife corridors to eliminate wildlife-human conflicts.
She said at the same time that the tourism sector was still recovering from the slump occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CS said tremendous progress had been made and the sector was at 98 per cent recovery.
She also pledged to have Kenyan cultural songs and dances patented so that foreigners don’t continue “stealing” them.
“We have to protect our culture from foreigners who are using some of the aspects, including dances and some Swahili words, to make money,” she said.
She continued, “Words such as Jambo and Hakuna Matata are gone and being used by foreigners to attract tourists to their countries, which is unacceptable.”
Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, the host, said she was happy that such an event had been held in her region.
She said Embu tourism potential lies in sports, cultural, adventure, and agriculture tourism.
The governor said they are also pushing for the opening of a new route to Mt. Kenya through Irangi Forest in Embu, which will open up the county for tourism.
By Samuel Waititu