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Jackson Kiplagat, WWF-Kenya's Head of Conservation Programmes and Joyce Isiaho, Head of Fundraising and Partnerships, plant a ceremonial tree at Kimunyuru Secondary School during the launch of the Kieni Climate Initiative on 13 April 2023. WWF-KENYA | JOEL MUINDE
Residents in Keini, Nyeri County are set to grow 10 million trees in an ambitious goal to restore degraded farmlands and the forest reserves following the launch of the Kieni Climate Initiative Forest Restoration Project.
Established by community members after the Ngare Ngiro River dried up, Kieni Climate Initiative (KCI) has established tree nurseries in four schools in Kieni Sub-County with the support of WWF-Kenya and funding from NCBA Bank.
"Today we recognize the Kieni Climate Initiative for their instrumental role in environment rehabilitation. By working together with the local community, we can mitigate environmental challenges and promote a sustainable future," David Kanarire, Nyeri County Deputy Governor.
“At NCBA, we are committed to forging partnerships and supporting sustainable initiatives that contribute to the well-being of communities and the environment. We have over the years taken strides in partnering with several Green Movement Partners who have been very instrumental in helping drive our pillars as a bank not only to be the best lender financial institution but also as a bank that champions and supports sustainability,” Said Nelly Wainaina, Group Director, Marketing Communications and Citizenship, NCBA Group during the launch at Kimunyuru Secondary School.
The four tree nurseries are located in Kimunyuru Secondary School, Watuka Polytechnic, Embaringo Secondary School and Charity Primary School, each with a capacity to produce over 100, 000 tree seedlings every season.
"This initiative provides a platform for a community-driven restoration that will help bring back our green and restore Kenya's forest cover. Being based within community lands in schools, it will inspire the current generation to step up to Keep Kenya Breathing by adopting a culture of tree planting and growing," said Jackson Kiplagat, Head of Conservation Programmes, WWF-Kenya.
The tree seedling nurseries were established within the selected schools for easy availability and accessibility by community members who initially had to travel over 40km to the nearest tree nursery in Muringato, Nyeri. The initiative has also provided an opportunity to mainstream environmental education among learners, from primary school to college level.
With the tree nurseries established, KCI has already produced 253,000 tree seedlings with an additional 160,000 at different stages of incubation. During the launch, 5,000 tree seedlings were distributed to community members for planting on their farms, bringing to total 157,858 the number of seedlings given to the locals for the reafforestation effort.
The idea of greening Kieni started with a small group of professionals from here, people who had witnessed over time the degradation of the environment. The community members were sensitive to threats to peoples livelihoods, the declining agricultural activity brought about by the worsening effects of climate change.
“We appreciate the efforts by the community and KCI led by Dr. Mwangi Gakuo, Jedidah Mwangi, Hon. Eng. Clement Warutere and Wanderi Mathenge. The four leaders have worked very closely with principals of the four learning institutions for the successful establishment and continued maintenance of the nurseries,” said Kiplagat.
Because of this successful collaboration, communities now have close access where they can buy tree seedlings at very competitive prices, including a variety of species that grow well in Kieni.
“The increased accessibility and affordability is to encourage the community to adopt a tree growing culture. As part of the bigger movement of bringing back our green through Keep Kenya Breathing, we propose that each family plant 25 trees every year,” added Kiplagat.