A community in Kajiado County heeded President William Ruto’s call to mitigate climate change effects through the growing of trees and now leads afforestation efforts in their locality.
The over 500 members of the Kirima Agroforestry Farmers Association in Kajiado County have since received 40,000 tree seedlings for the Jaza Miti tree planting initiative recently launched by the government.
Kajiado South Member of Parliament Samuel Parashina, also the patron of the association, says their passion for conservation has seen community members being commissioned to spearhead efforts to conserve and manage forests between the Kimana and Ilasit areas within Loitokitok Sub-County.
To be at the forefront of conservation activities in the area, Parashina disclosed that the group put forward a proposal to the State Department of Irrigation which led to members being awarded 200 acres of land purposely for tree planting.
“With these acres of land, members are expected to plant trees. They can either plant ordinary tree species or fruit trees. This move goes towards combating climate change, and soil erosion and will also help us increase on food production in the long run,” he said.
In addition, the group also benefitted from the launch of the Kimegelia Water Dam which is the biggest water project in the constituency.
The lawmaker believes the initiative is a noble one, especially for the posterity of Kenya, and should therefore ought to be replicated in other parts of the country. He says trees planted in the process are cared for to maturity courtesy of a continuous water supply aided by solar-powered pumps for sustainability.
“Most counties in Kenya fall under the semi-arid and arid areas, what this means is that we mostly depend on short rain which most times is insufficient. The National Government needs to not only focus on seedling distribution but also focus on sinking boreholes and digging water pans for communities who take care of the trees to maturity,” he averred.
Mohamed Awer, the Chief Executive Officer at WWF Kenya, holds the view that Kenya must get community members involved in conservation by making sure the forest section generates employment. He believes this will go a long way in supporting the government’s 15 billion tree-growing initiative.
“Over 10,000 of the tree seedlings we have planted today were sourced from the Loitokitok Model Tree Nursery. This model nursery was a collaborative effort between WWF-Kenya, the Kenya Forest Service, and Loitokitok Community Forest Association and the nursery has a capacity of 500,000 tree seedlings,” he said.
Awer says his organization is playing its part in this regard, noting that since 2021; “we have been working closely with our partners and with the financial support from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV),”
On this occasion, National Treasury Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo was also in attendance. He expressed optimism that the current campaign is key to the country’s achievement of the goal set for tree cover.
“For Kajiado to meet its tree cover target of 19.09 percent, it needs to grow 623 million trees by 2032. This translates to 62 million trees every year. So far, we have planted 12 Million trees this year, an effort in the right direction but more is required to bridge the 20 Million deficit for this season,” he said.
Dr Kiptoo says the trees being planted now will have a huge impact on enhancing the country’s economic growth through sectors such as; agriculture, energy, tourism, health, and timber industries among others.
“The benefits of what we are doing will be felt long after today, which will lead to sustainable development and a better environment for us and future generations.”
The Jaza Miti strategy is a guide to the 15 billion tree-growing initiative towards the attainment of 30 percent tree cover.
The campaign is aligned with the national development agenda, the Constitution, the Vision 2030, the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), and the Green Economy Strategy.
It is also in line with international commitments, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the African Landscape Restoration Initiative.
By planting 15 billion trees, Kenya will not only fulfill its obligations to the global community but also demonstrate its leadership and innovation in environmental conservation and restoration.