The much awaited Human Wildlife Conflict compensation Report (2014-2017) was launched on December 3, 2019, at Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters in Nairobi.
Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala presided over the launch at a ceremony attended by the chairman, parliamentary committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Hon.Kareke Mbiuki and KWS Director Genera Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru, among others. The CS acknowledged that conflicts between people and wildlife (HWC) currently rank amongst the major threats to conservation in Africa, due to wildlife survival needs overlapping with those of human populations. This is exacerbated by a significant proportion of wildlife occurring outside of Protected Areas, he said.
The CS said managing HWC in Kenya involves a multi-pronged approach, including: policy interventions such as translocation of problematic wildlife; preventive strategies such as electric fencing; mitigation measures like compensation pay outs to affected families; response strategies that include Problem Animal Control (PAC) units which are deployed across hotspot regions; establishing community conservancies and understanding the conflict.
Compensation is used as a method for mitigating the impacts of HWC. The insurance principle of Indemnity, in which the intention is not to replace a life or property; rather, to try as best as possible, to reasonably compensate an aggrieved party for harm or loss is employed by the Ministry and, by extension, KWS.
Section 25 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA, 2013) provides for compensation for personal injury, death, damage to property and crops or livestock predation. It requires every County to have a Community Wildlife Conservation Committee (CWCC) to deliberate on the claims and give recommendations as to whether the claimant qualifies for compensation.
Since the enactment of the WCMA, 2013, the Government, through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, has released a staggering Ksh. 1,201,350,000 (one billion, two hundred and one million, three hundred and fifty thousand to KWS for HWC between 2014-2018 as follows: Financial Year 2014/15 – 147 million; 2015/16 – 235 million; 2016/17 – 230 million; 2017/18 – 150 million; 2018/19 – 439 million.
The WCMA, 2013, further provides that all compensation cases shall be deliberated upon and recommended for payment by the respective CWCCs, after which the Ministerial Wildlife Conservation Committee (MWCC) approves the same for payment.
These Reports on Human Injury, Crop Damage, Livestock Predation and Property Destruction as compiled by the MWCC were arrived at after examining 13,125 compensation claims for the period 2014 to 2017. The breakdown is as follows: 452-human death; 4,555-human injury; 5,073-crop damages; 3,012-livestock predation and 33 for property destruction.
The value of claims approved for payment to date is Ksh 1.553 billion. Other claims amounting to Ksh. 1.859 billion have been deferred due to lack of relevant documentation, while rejected claims amount to Ksh. 1.506 billion. For the financial year 2019/2020, the Ministry, in consultation with the National Treasury, has allocated a budget of Ksh 569 million for payment of approved compensation claims as one way of addressing HWC.
The Ministry is also working with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for further investigation of some of the claims suspected to be fraudulent, as these cast aspersions on genuine cases. It is also operationalizing the establishment of an insurance scheme to support compensation claims. A report by the Taskforce on HWC is being awaited to guide with this aspect.
“As a responsible government, it is good that we are taking action and seen to be mindful of our people’s welfare as regards damage to property and loss of life occasioned by HWC,” said the Principal Secretary, State Department of Wildlife, Prof. Fred Segor. He averred that the Report was done by more than 10 dedicated officers drawn from KWS, the Ministry and stakeholders.
KWS Director General Brig. (Rtd.) John Waweru said he felt privileged to be witnessing the making of history as regards the compensation of HWC victims. He stated that KWS is committed to ensuring that HWC are minimized to a manageable level, since it cannot completely be eradicated as long as humans and wildlife continue to co-exist.