First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has called on Kenyans to intensify tree planting across the country to restore the fragile ecosystem destroyed over the years.
Speaking at Ruiru Dam in Kiambu County Saturday during this year’s Bamboo Planting Day, the First Lady said the erratic weather the country has been experiencing in recent years is a consequence of unchecked deforestation which has significantly depleted national forest cover without reciprocal efforts towards conservation.
“The extreme weather we experienced is attributable to climate change and the consequences of our actions. The dry weather we experienced for many months affected us all, we suffered famine, we lost lives, we lost our harvest,” the First Lady said.
She said forests support human life in different ways including contributing to food security, has medicinal value, and are sources of wood energy for millions of Kenyans among other uses.
The First Lady called on Kenyans not to tire in correcting the environmental havoc we have collectively caused to the country but continue cultivating the culture of continuous conservation.
“I encourage us not to tire correcting the damage we, in our different actions, have done to the environment. I urge us to continue embracing conservation values and become better advocates and champions of the management of our precious forests and water catchment areas,” she said.
During his Madaraka Day address to the Nation from Narok County, President Uhuru Kenyatta also challenged Kenyans to plant trees in their homes and neighbourhoods to help transform our environment through “a tree at a time”.
The President announced that the government has rolled out the “Greening Kenya Initiative” that will ensure the country’s tree cover soars to the globally recommended 10 per cent by 2022.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta called for strong policies backed up by practical and sustainable interventions that create a meaningful impact on our environmental conservation initiatives that are structured to benefit both communities and households.
This year’s Bamboo Planting event was a collaborative initiative between the Ministry of Environment, the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) under whose management the Ruiru dam falls, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Bidco Africa.
Ruiru Dam is one of the oldest water reservoirs for Nairobi, constructed by the colonial government almost 90 years ago to supplement Kikuyu springs.
The evergreen and fast maturing Bamboo tree species were chosen deliberately for their many environmental benefits especially their water retention and restoration capacity.
The First Lady applauded Bidco Africa and its partners for the initiative saying the private sector has potential to become a key contributor to the restoration of ecosystems and reversal of human actions that continue to negatively impact the environment.
She said for environmental interventions and restoration processes to be successful, local communities must be allowed to participate fully.
“As a passionate conservationist, it inspires me to see communities, women, men and children, participate in conservation practices that they will benefit from and be positively impacted,” the First Lady said.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko, Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu, Bidco Africa Group Chairman Vimal Shah, NCWSC Acting MD Eng. Nahashon Muguna, KFS chairman Peter Kinyua, KEFRI Director Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo and Kiambu County MP Gathoni wa Muchomba were among those that joined the First Lady at the event.