Environmentalist out to revive depleted forest ecosystems in the country

As a way of fast tracking the countrys quest for 10 per cent forest cover while creating one million jobs annually for youth and women living around the conservancies, Multi Touch International an environmental conservation advocate has partnered with conservancies in an audacious forestation bid that will see 30 Billion indigenous tree species planted in the depleted forest ecosystems in the country.
The initiative which is now benefiting hundreds of unemployed youths from Nakuru’s Kaptembwa and Ronda areas.
Jemmimah Ndutah a beneficiary of the initiative says the program has benefited her especially at this time when the economy is harsh to the common citizens.
She adds that through the program she has been able to cater for her family without over depending on her husband as the sole bread winner for the family.
“I must say this program has great positive impact on us women. Instead of over relying on our husbands as women we can come out join in this project and have our daily bread. I would appeal to other women not to just sit but be focused and join the program” she said.
Sentiments echoed by Annastacia Wanjiru Chege who has stayed in Kaptembwa and Rhonda areas of Nakuru for so long and understands the challenges that face the area among them unemployment.
She says apart from the program helping them get their daily bread the country will also benefit through the conservation process as there will be enough rain sustainable food production.
“I am really happy for the project since I can get my daily bread and more so our country will also benefit as far as conservation is concerned. We shall have enough rain and increased food production” she said.
At the moment 4,000 youths and women have already been enrolled in the program that has taken off with 50,000 tree seedlings prepared for planting in the heavily depleted Mau Eastern Bloc, Dundori and Bahati Forests.
Poor households are prioritized in the trees for jobs program and casual laborers hired earn Ksh 12,000 a month a considerable amount of money that is increasingly driving the vulnerable households out of squalor.
This is according to Multi Touch Executive Director Christine Wangari who says the program is regulated by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI).
“This seeks to poise Kenya in the global quest for competitive carbon sequestration a venture that environmental experts say is worth trillions of shillings annually” she said.
Furthermore, the organization has established 300 KEFRI certified tree nurseries on a five acre parcel of land at Mkarafuu grounds in Nakuru West in a move that seen vulnerable households in informal settlements of Kaptembwa and Rhonda find a lifeline.
Through the program, trees favorable to semi arid areas of North Eastern and North Rift Kenya have been planted and Wangari says the program will work with relevant partners to plant and maintain fruit trees along the country
s highways.
“Our Highways have nothing and that is why we are saying let us plant fruits as this will encourage increased adoption of fruit trees for more fruits and improved health to citizens” she said.
She says early next year they will diversify to mud fish farming and large scale rabbit keeping in order to engage more youths and women into competitive models of Agri-business for better livelihoods.
However, she says land has remained the limiting factor to the program that is on track to halving massive unemployment in the country hence calling on local land owners with a minimum of five acres of idle land to lease it to the program for sustainability.
According to Kenya Forest service, the countrys forest cover stands at a 3.5 per cent and with strategic public private partnerships expected to help increase to 7 per cent by the year 2018.
This is commendable step and in line with the United Nations Environmental Program
s requirement of 10 per cent forest cover.
“If the program is managed in an appropriate manner it will help people connect with nature again and make rewarding livelihoods from their civic duty to conserve the environment” said Head of Mau Conservancy Cosmas Ikiugu.
According to the officer, the countrys bid to save water catchment areas entirely depends on conservation partnerships and discipline among citizens.
It should be noted that Mau Complex, Aberdare hills, Cherengany hills, the Mount Elgon and the Mount Kenya are the country
s main water catchment areas.
PHOTO/Pristone Mambili:Youths turn up in large numbers at Mkarafuu market in Nakuru West to register for tree planting job courtesy of Multi-touch International Environmental NGO.The program has employed more youths and women who are paid Kshs 12,000 per month.

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