HC Deb 27 July 1938 vol 338 cc3087-9
28. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in which of the native reserves in Kenya soil erosion is considered to be serious; and what steps are being taken for the reclamation of the eroded areas and for the protection of other areas which are threatened with erosion?

Mr. M. MacDonald

As the answer is a long one, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

Soil erosion is a serious problem in most of the native reserves in Kenya; it is particularly bad in parts of the three Kavirondo districts of the Nyanza Province, in West Suk, Elgeyo, Kamasia, Samburu, Kitui, Machakos and the lower areas of Fort Hall and Embu.

As regards the second part of the question, I regret that it is impossible, within the scope of a reply to a Parliamentary question, to give any adequate account of the steps which are being taken to deal with the problem. These include instruction in, and demonstrations of the value of, such measures as terracing, gully stopping, contour ploughing, planting of trees and grass, control of grazing and the building of dams; and the natives are encouraged to undertake these and a variety of other remedial and protective measures under the supervision of district and agricultural officers. In one district alone no less than £1,500 a year is being spent by the local native council on such measures. For the purpose of preparing and supervising the execution of comprehensive plans for the reconditioning of badly eroded areas, a Soil Conservation Service, consisting of an agricultural officer and an engineer, has been established. Land utilisation surveys has already been made in four of the reserves and preliminary reports have been received of two others. With the assistance of a free grant of £10,000 and a loan of £24,000 from the Colonial Development Fund an intensive programme of work is being carried out in the Machakos district, and the opportunity is being taken to train native instructors from all parts of the Colony.

Steps are being taken to reduce the numbers of cattle in this area in conformity with the carrying capacity of the land, and in other areas rules are being issued to enforce a simple system of grazing control.

29. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are taken by the Government of Kenya to ensure that the principles of land conservation are taught in Government schools and in all mission schools which receive Government grants?

Mr. MacDonald

An illustrated booklet on soil conservation has been prepared by the Kenya Soil Conservation Service, in consultation with the Education Department, for use in native schools. It will be issued in Swahili and three vernacular languages in addition to the English version which has already been published In Government elementary schools particular emphasis is laid on the teaching of the elements of agriculture, a school garden and tree nursery being often provided.

Mr. Paling

Will they also teach the Africans that they have no right to have their land taken away from them for the benefit of Europeans?

37. Mr. David Grenfell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, having regard to the consequences of cutting down natural growth and the serious damage done by soil erosion in Kenya Colony, he will represent to the Governor that, before giving authority to cut bamboo on the Aberdare mountains, he should inquire how far soil erosion may be caused by cutting down the natural protection of soil on this area?

Mr. MacDonald

I can assure the hon. Member that this matter has already been engaging the attention of the Government of Kenya, and that effective steps will be taken to ensure that the development of the bamboo area is conducted in such a manner as not to cause soil erosion.

Mr. Grenfell

What guarantee has the right hon. Gentleman, and what is the basis of his confidence, that these instructions will be carried out, and what special methods are to be adopted to prevent the recurrence of the excessive cutting which has led to so much erosion and has prejudiced so greatly the interests of the natives?

Mr. MacDonald

I understand that, as far as this proposal is concerned, licences are to be issued, and that proper safeguards will be contained in those licences.