Role of youths in achieving greener environment

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 00:00 |
A section in one of the forests in the country.

Marion Otwar 

Kenya is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that has continued to experience severe droughts and famine.

The impact is hard on its socioeconomic status, as it causes starvation and loss of life due to insufficient food and water for humans, livestock and wildlife. 

Kenya is a rain-dependent society with subsistence farming as the main economic activity.

Lack of rain, therefore, leads to loss of livelihood which in turn leads to hunger, starvation and deaths. 

Due to the growing population, populations have encroached on water towers and forests through human settlements and farming, clearing out trees.

We, as young people, must be involved in seeking ingenious ways of tackling this environmental menace. 

Contrary to many beliefs, the price of trees is affordable to a lot of people. They range from Sh20 for exotic trees, Sh40 for indigenous trees and Sh100 for fruit trees.

I believe young people can raise this amount and plant trees in homesteads, schools, churches, youth groups, colleges and universities.

We can do this, for instance, by skipping lunch every Friday or denying ourselves simple luxuries such as data or airtime.

We can also use our education system. Environmental clubs can come in handy and we can assist our brothers and sisters to have this as core activity every school term.

According to Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association and Kenya Secondary School Heads Association there are more than 26,000 primary schools and 7,000 secondary schools in the country.

Each pupil from pre-school to Class Eight and from Form One to Four can be tasked to plant at least one tree within their school compound, backyard and protected areas in their wards, constituencies or county. 

They can also be tasked with watering and taking care of the trees starting from their entry into the school till they finishes school.

This way, we can inculcate good practices at an early stage. Planting of these trees should not only focus on indigenous ones but also medicinal, exotic and fruit trees that could improve livelihoods.

As a Wings to fly beneficiary, tree planting is one of the activities inculcated in me at an early age.

I was involved in the annual give-back initiative where we joined Equity Bank branches in tree planting exercises. This has moulded me to appreciate our environment.

Guided by the Sustainable Development Goal number 15: protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss, this will be keen for us in achieving the desirable forest cover in the country. 

In 2019, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) set out a strategy of rehabilitating a total of 4.0m acres aimed at increasing forest cover from current 7.2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2022.

Under the strategy, Kenya needs to plant 1.8 billion seedlings to achieve this at a cost of  Sh 8 billion. 

KFS urged both state and non-state actors to assist in the implementation.

The Equity Group has partnered with KFS to promote Farm Forestry Initiatives by committing to plant 35 million trees.

KFS will provide technical support including identification of hotspots that require urgent tree cover or rehabilitation of degraded forests.

The spirit of public-private partnerships is borne from the fact that 77 per cent of deforestation and land degradation is caused by agricultural activities, hence the need to work closely with forest and farm producers to encourage them to adopt sustainable solutions for preserving natural environments. — The writer is a Wings to Fly scholar

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