In Kenya, the widespread cutting of trees is a leading cause of environmental degradation. The practice is a major contributor to poverty, drought and famine.
To address this, Christian Children's Fund-Kenya has launched a tree-planting program; according to CCF-Kenya National Director Ogada Kojwang, the goal is to have one million trees planted within the first year.
Kojwang explains that planting trees will help prevent erosion and maintain a healthy environment through bio-diversity. The trees will also have other benefits:
|CCF's East Africa Regional Representative Margery Kabuya assists in the tree-planting program.|
In consultation with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, several varieties of trees, including fruit, exotic and indigenous types, were identified as ideal for the communities. “They were selected for their ecological and economic value.”
School children and families affiliated with 50 community-based organizations throughout Kenya are assisting with tree plantings.
The CCF tree-planting program began in May 2005 and communities have already planted more than 300,000 tree seedlings. Kojwang aims to have 10 million trees planted within ten years. At the same time, Kojwang hopes a positive change will be seeded in people’s attitudes toward environmental conservation.
Families are planting trees in places of strategic environmental importance, such as steep slopes, riverbeds and areas prone to landslides.
Some fast-growing trees are being planted for the purpose of harvesting and will be sold for wood products. Those grown for firewood or timber are being planted in sustainable community areas. The availability of trees for commercial use will encourage the protection of native forests and help protect other trees such as the fruit trees that are being planted.
This tree-planting program is especially important for girls who are often assigned the task of gathering firewood. They may spend hours searching for and collecting firewood for the family. Having wood as a harvestable crop, close at hand, will free up their time for school. CCF will also train families in beekeeping and other income-generating activities made possible because of the tree-planting program.
And that’s the nature of self-sufficiency, the move toward independence for participating communities.