In the arid and semi-arid areas of Kitui, Machakos and Embu Counties, primary and secondary school students are planting drought resistant trees to improve their environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. Arid and Semi- Arid lands (ASALs) constitute about 80% of Kenya’s total land mass.
Bamburi Cement has established a program to address this challenge. Dubbed the Green Initiative Challenge (GIC), the program targets schools around the 7-Forks hydropower stations in Embu, Kitui and Machakos counties. The program mission is to combat desertification through afforestation project.
The project was designed to encourage and enable schools to participate in environmental activities by developing small forests and woodlots within their compounds for multiple benefits via sustainable management of woodlots; provision of schools with renewable source of wood fuel thereby reducing pressure on surrounding forest resources; the diversification of income through sale of timber and non-timber products as well as fruits; contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration; and the control of soil erosion by increasing topsoil infiltration and reducing runoff.
The GIC Program is a ten-year initiative in partnership with Kengen Foundation and Better Globe Forestry (BGF) that was commenced in 2014 and runs on two-year phases. It is currently in Phase IV. The overall goal of the program is to enrol 1,000 schools and green 460 acres with 324,300 tree seedlings and 113,956 fruit seedlings by 2023. School participation in Phase I, II and III was 81, 120 and 99 schools respectively. Phase IV has enrolled 100 schools.
Participating schools plant multi-purpose tree seedlings on 0.5-acre school plots. Phase II saw the introduction of the ‘Green Teacher’, an instrumental figure in the running, guiding and mentorship of the participating students on tree planting and husbandry.