Saturday, May 25, 2019
By BONIFACE MULU
The institutions in Kenya have been called upon to set aside some 10 percent of their lands for afforestation.
Making the call, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Eastern Kenya Regional Conservancy Head, Beatrice Mbula, said that the way the things are going we have to recognize the value and importance of trees. “So we have to conserve them and plant more for the benefits of the environment,” the forester added.
“We are already experiencing the climate change in the country where the heinously environmental degradation is part of the problem’s major contributors,” Mbula further said.
The officer was speaking to hundreds of people including the Kenya Water Institute (KEWI) Kitui Campus students and lecturers during a tree awareness creation and growing sensitisation organized at the campus by the Kenya Forest Service in partnership with Kitui County Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Kenya Water Towers Agency and Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Kitui County Office on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Kitui County Environment and Natural Resources Minister John Muneeni Makau was the chief guest at the function where he was representing Governor Charity Kaluki Ngilu.
The event’s theme was “Panda Mini Boresha Maisha.” “This is a very important aspect for us as Kenyans and the KFS,” Mbula said concerning the event. The leaders and participants planted a total of 600 trees in the college’s compound during the occasion. The Eastern Kenya Conservancy is made up by a total of six counties namely Kitui, Embu, Meru, Machakos, Tharaka Nithi and Makueni.
The KFS official said that there is a need for us the Kenyans to take some measures towards preventing the flow of the rains water to the ocean from our country. “We get little rains in the country and we lose all its water to the ocean,” the expert said. That is why we say that the 10 percent forest cover is environment secure, Mbula further said. “We need more than 100 million trees to get the 10 percent forest cover in Kitui County,” the KFS official said. She further said that we need trees more than they need us. “We need them to survive.
I encourage every one of you to plant plenty of trees and conserve them for the good of the environment,” she said. Mbula had been accompanied by some officials from her office including the KFS Kitui County Ecosystem Conservator Joyce Nthuku and her (Nthuku) deputy Charles Kavithai.
In his speech after having read Governor Ngilu’s speech, Makau said: “I am greatly delighted by the cooperation between the Kitui County and the national governments. The existence of the ban on the charcoal burning and charcoal harvesting in our county in January last year is because of that cooperation.” The minister highly thanked the KEWI Kitui Campus Principal Elkana M.Kaburi for having planted plenty of trees within the college’s compound and for also setting aside some 10 percent of the institution’s land for the trees planting.
Makau disclosed that they as a county ministry managed to plant about 800,000 trees in the county during the last year’s long rains season (March to May). “And the community members planted about 200,000 trees on their own during that rains season.
That is about one million trees and the majority of them survived,” the minister added. He said the 10 percent is the United Nations’ recommended forest cover. The minister disclosed that Kitui is among Kenya’s six counties that have climate change mitigation programs. Kenya has a total of 47 counties.
The acting Kitui County Commissioner Jackson Ole Chuta, who also addressed the occasion, disclosed that the county had a population of about one million people in 2009 as per the year’s Kenya’s national census. “And now the county’s population is about 1.5 million. This means that the growth between 2009 and 2019 is about 500,000 people,” the administrative officer said.
He also said that according to the experts Kenya’s national child mortality rate currently stands at 4.6 percent. “And the Kitui County’s child mortality rate stands at 5.1 percent,” the County Commissioner added. “Our population is also growing faster.
So the county is acquiring land for settlement and doing farming,” Chuta said. The County Commissioner said Kenya’s national forest cover currently stands at 7 percent. “And the Kitui County also has the 7 percent forest cover,” he added. Chuta said that Kitui is one of the six largest counties in Kenya. “The largest one is Turkana, followed by Marsabit, Mandera, Isiolo, Wajir and then Kitui,” he said. And he added that Kitui is one of the major arid areas in Kenya. “To encourage our people to do tree planting to have the forest cover in the county,” he said.
He announced that they in the county are targeting the local primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges among other institutions for the tree planting. “And we are also targeting the water catchment areas in the county,” he added. Chuta announced that there is a lot of encroachment on the Kora National Park in Kyuso District, Kitui County. “This is because there are some settlements around the park,” the officer said regarding the encroachment.
Chuta said that the national government appreciates the work of the Kitui County government “because it has come up with the ban on charcoal burning and sand harvesting in the county.” “And we as the national government are going to fully support it in the fight,” the County Commissioner said. He regretted that the sand harvesting leads to the evaporation of the little amount of water in the rivers.
On the current rains season in the region, Chuta said: “We don’t see any harvest during the current rains season in the area. The rains are extremely poor. So we need to look for food security in the area. The farmers have planted but the rains are not reliable.”
“The County Commissioner had been accompanied by a team of officials from his office including the District Commissioners and the County Police Commander Lydia Ligami. And on his part, the KEWI Kitui Campus Principal said the water is a devolved function in Kenya. “And therefore we the KEWI have to train on the water to bring the water to the people and to where it is needed,” Kaburi said. And he added:
“We the KEWI do a lot of issues including consultancies on the water sector in our training.” The principle disclosed that the KEWI Kitui Campus started in 2011. “It is a branch of the Kenya Water Institute Main Campus in South C area in Nairobi,” he said.
Other campuses in the country are in Tharaka Nithi and Kisumu Counties and we are planning to set up more campuses in the country, Kaburi further said. The principal announced that they are targeting to plant about 1.5 million trees in their campus compound. “We want to ensure that we take care of the tree seedlings that we plant,” he said.
They have a lot of indigenous trees within their college compound. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Kitui County Director, Godfrey Wafula, who also addressed the ceremony, said: “I am happy to be part of this colorful event.” “It is all good for us to do likewise in our home areas,” he added.
We know Kenya is a water scarce country and there we should undertake some measures to harness the rains water in the country for our own good, the expert said. Wafula regretted that our country’s rains water flows to the ocean instead of having it to help us.
The environmentalist described trees as very important for us and the other creatures on the earth. “Trees protect our environment among so many other benefits,” the NEMA official said. He added that Kenya’s government has banned the use of plastic paper bags in the country for the good of the environment. And he asked the Kitui County’s residents not to use the very banned paper bags. “The plastics have a lot of effects to us, to our livestock and to our environment,” Wafula said. The officer highly lauded the KEWI Kitui Campus Environment Club. “We the NEMA are happy to learn that you have an environment club in your college.
We want to collaborate with you regarding environmental conservation. Our office is open and we are ready to work with you. Visit our office anytime you wish to do so,” Wafula told the college fraternity. The KEFRI Kitui Regional Director Albert M.Luvanda had been represented at the function by an official from his office, Bernard Kimani Kigwa. Kigwa said that they (the KEFRI) have already undertaken research on various tree species in the region. The KEFRI Kitui Region covers 12 of Kenya’s 47 counties where the twelve include Kitui, Garissa, Kajiado, Machakos, Wajir, Tana River, Makueni and Taita Taveta Counties.
The KEFRI undertakes forestry research for the KFS who (the KFS) are themselves the implementers. The KEFRI is a state corporation established in 1986 and mandated to undertake research in forestry and allied resources.