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17,000-tree planting drive launched in West Pokot County

West Pokot Women Representative Rael Kasiwai has launched a 17,000-tree planting programme at Kongelai Primary in Riwo Ward in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change and increase tree cover in the region.

The drive will target all schools in West Pokot County in order to raise the current forest coverage in the region, which she claims is very low as compared to the national average.
The campaign, dubbed “Greening of Schools in West Pokot,” gears towards fulfilling the 15 billion trees set by the president by 2032 and also helping the locals to control soil erosion, which is a common phenomenon in the region.

“I have launched today this tree planting campaign called ’Greening of Schools in West Pokot County’. I am planning to rally residents to plant more trees in all schools in West Pokot,’’ said the Women Rep.

She added, “West Pokot County has a below-average forest cover as compared to the national percentage.”

Ms. Kasiwai issued a stern warning against those cutting down trees, saying they are endangering their lives by damaging the ozone layer thus leading to global warming.

“Those cutting trees for charcoal should stop because they are destroying the ozone layer and that will cause global warming, which is a great danger to our future generation,’’ she reiterated.

She explained that trees play a key role in the purification of the air that humans and other animals depend on for survival.

Ms. Kasiwai also donated three water tanks to help the school with water storage and irrigating the trees planted.

“These water tanks should help this school store water for their domestic use and also water the trees that we have planted,” she said.

The woman legislator condemned the traditional cultures, dances, and beliefs that have for a long time kept children out of school particularly girls in the region.

“Several girls have been involved in traditional cultures, dances, and beliefs. I call upon parents to assist the government in eliminating these retrogressive activities that keep children out of school,’’ she urged.

Ms Kasiwai lauded the Non-Governmental organizations, among them World Vision and Action Aid that have partnered with the county government to ensure children are in conducive learning environments.

Riwo Ward Member of the County Assembly (MCA) David Alukulem lauded the office of the women representative for initiating the tree planting programme reiterating that the area needs more trees since it is highly prone to soil erosion sounding a warning to those cutting down trees for charcoal.

“I want to warn those cutting down trees for charcoal burning that they risk being prosecuted because the practice reduces our forest cover,” stated the MCA.

Kongelai Primary head teacher Joel Tela raised an alarm over what he said was becoming a common practice of children loitering in the villages and market places hence the low turnout of learners in school calling on the local administration to intervene.

“Many children are just in villages and on marketplaces doing business. This has led to low turnout of learners in most of our local schools,” he hinted, pointing out that most of those affected are girls.

The area chief Mr. Paul Achia said that the area has been bedeviled with a myriad of challenges that have led to low school enrollment.

He said that drought and famine, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and long distances from schools have contributed to the low turnout of learners.

“The introduction of the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) has led to an increased number of school dropouts since parents lack information about the programme. Many parents do not understand the content of CBC, so they have decided to stay with their children at home,” regretted Mr. Achia.

He however exuded confidence that his administration will not relent in ensuring that all children go to school by conducting random crackdowns when schools are in session.

He also requested the government increase the supply of relief food to cushion those adversely affected by the drought.

By Richard Muhambe and Maurice Osore

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