Kitui County has mooted elaborate plans to plant one million trees before the end of this year, Ag. County Commissioner, Jackson Ole Chuta has said.
Speaking during a tree planting exercise at Kenya Water Institute (KEWI) Kitui Campus, Ole Chuta decried wanton destruction of trees for charcoal production that had slowed the forest cover which stands at 7 per cent below the required national standard of 10 per cent
The administrator called on police officers in Kitui to enforce the charcoal production and sand harvesting ban issued by the county government in a bid to protect the environment.
Ole Chuta decried the upsurge of illegal sand harvesting and charcoal burning and called on all arms of government to curb the vice.
“This ban stands to be enforced by the government until it is lifted by the County Government of Kitui. That is the law and anyone found culpable of the offence shall be charged before a court of law,” said the Ag. County Commissioner.
To reverse this trend, the County Environment Executive said that in a gazette notice dated January 16, 2018, Kitui
Governor Charity Ngilu banned the sale and transport of charcoal and sand in the county.
“Due to the public outcry over the unsustainable exploitation of the natural resources in the County of Kitui, it is
notified to the public that with immediate effect the governor has banned the transportation and sale of charcoal and sand outside the geographical boundaries of the county of Kitui and revoked all licenses, permits and any other documentation,” reads the gazette notice.
Ole Chuta decried the wanton destruction of many water catchment areas saying that communities no longer cared about environmental conservation which was the source of their livelihoods and that of the future generations.
“Deforestation, degradation and encroachment of water towers and other catchment areas, uncontrolled human activities, including wanton logging have threatened and undermined the county’s capability to ensure food security,” he lamented.
“Environment is the bedrock of the Government’s Big Four Agenda. It is the foundation upon which they hung. We need to ensure that the constitutional minimum 10 per cent forest cover is achieved by 2020,” he added.
Commenting on the sustainable green uptake, Kitui County has developed an energy masterplan tapping into the last mile connectivity and renewable energy to stimulate rural economies, John Makau, County Environment Executive has said.
Makau noted that the energy masterplan aims to advocate for and promote the use of clean, sustainable, reliable, accessible and affordable energy and to amplify the positive impact of renewable energy on the development of the Kitui County.
The County Executive Member in-charge of Environment and Natural Resources says that clean energy for lighting and cooking offers a unique opportunity to accelerate access to electricity through small-scale, off-grid and stand-alone projects, often with simple and cost-effective solutions.
Makau lamented that wood fuel has remained the most important source of energy in Kenya, meeting over 70 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption needs.
“As the primary source of fuel for rural households, use of wood fuels has a major impact on the sustainable development of Kitui County. The lack of efforts with reforestation, unsustainable harvesting, and on-farm planting of wood lots, have often led to soil degradation and deforestation,” said Makau.
By Yobesh Onwong’a