The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology and Innovation (PS), Jerome Ochieng has decried low forest cover in Kisumu County and called for change of strategy to reverse the worrying trend.
Ochieng noted that Kisumu County has a dismal forest land coverage of only 0.4 percent, which is far below the envisaged national average of 10 percent.
Speaking on Monday at Mbaka Oromo Dispensary in Kisumu West sub-county where he was joined by the Kisumu Governor, Prof. Peter Anyang Nyong’o and the County Commissioner, Susan Waweru to plant trees to commemorate Public Service week, the PS challenged local farmers to venture into growing of trees as a commercial enterprise.
“We need to move away from just planting trees and start growing trees so that we tend to them the way we do our crops in order to start increasing forest cover to five percent in five years and eventually to 10 percent,” he said.
He said the National Government will fully support the gazzettement of hills by the Kisumu County Government as a first step to achieving 10 percent forest cover.
The Kisumu Governor said his Cabinet has already approved the gazzettement of Nyatiko, Koru and Kajulu Hills in Seme, Muhoroni and Kisumu West sub counties and that once a Bill before the County Assembly is passed, the areas will become a protected area to help conserve the environment.
On business, Ochieng said the National government was keen to helping youth patent their innovations to maturity so that they start earning from their works.
“As a ministry we are keen to help youth to become creators of jobs and not job seekers.
On National Hygiene Programme, populary known as Kazi Mtaani, the PS said the government has allocated Sh. 10 billion under the second phase of the programme to help cushion youth during this period of Covid-19 crisis.
“The Government intends to scale up the number of youth to undertake the programme from the initial 8 pilot counties to countrywide” he said.
He added that the number of youth to be employed in the coming phase will be increased from 26,000 to 27,000 and incorporate skilled youth as opposed to the first phase where the youth were involved in performing menial job.
Kazi Mtaani was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta to help vulnerable youths who lost jobs following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Youth have welcomed the move where they are being paid Sh.650 per day and this has greatly reduced crime in informal settlements.
By George Kaiga