The Lake region is under threat of being submerged by Lake Victoria should urgent steps not be taken to address global warming trends, Cabinet Secretary for Information, communications and the Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo has said.
Owalo, who was speaking at the Siaya Institute of technology grounds when he launched Siaya county tree planting campaign, is now urging the residents of the entire region to embrace tree planting as part of the campaign to bequeath future generation an environment friendly world.
“Global warming is a reality in the Lake region and most areas, including Siaya risks sinking under the lake if we do not address global warming,” said the Cabinet secretary who was flanked by Siaya Deputy County Commissioner, Robert Ng’etich and the County Executive Committee Member for Environment, Dr Caroline Onyango among others.
He lamented that though the region was once an attractive green countryside, human activities had seen most streams dry up as hilltops remain bare.
The CS called on Kenyans to embrace the age old slogan of “If you cut a tree, plant two” adding that the same even be improved to “If you cut a tree, plant 10 and nurture them to maturity.”
He said that tree planting, apart from checking the effects of global warming, has the potential of creating jobs for the youths in form of tree nurseries and in timber production ventures.
“The challenge, however, remains that in this case, almost everyone thinks that it is somebody else’s business so nobody ends up doing a job which everyone can do because nobody did it,” he lamented.
Addressing the occasion, Siaya county forest conservator, Evans Arori said that the county’s forest cover stands at 0.23% while the tree cover is 5.27%, attributing the low forest cover to very few gazetted forests in Siaya.
“We only have Got Abiero and Got Ramogi as the gazetted forests in Siaya,” he said.
Arori said that more than 3.5 million seedlings were ready for planting during this short rain season in Siaya.
“Kenya Forest Service nurseries in Siaya have 110,000 seedlings while private tree nurseries in the county have 3.4 million seedlings that are ready for planting,” said Arori.
He said that already, the county has planted 17,750 seedlings since the beginning of the short rains.
Siaya county executive committee member for environment Dr Onyango said the county government, under the leadership of Governor James Orengo was in support of the presidential initiative and has taken several steps to realise the goal.
“In line with this presidential initiative and in partial fulfillment of his manifesto, his excellency the governor is supporting enhancement of the green space through woodlot planting at Siaya scout centre,” said Dr Onyango adding that the county government was also undertaking tree planting along Siaya town streets.
She lamented that the county’s forest cover was the lowest in Kenya, adding that the bare hills, riparian zones and swathes of farmlands lying fallow were a testimony of the numerous opportunities that the locals could use to improve their economy through commercial forestry.
By Philip Onyango and Calvin Otieno