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KVDA launches tree planting exercise in West Pokot

Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) has launched a massive tree planting campaign to create a better environment and a lasting legacy for future generations in landslide-prone areas of West Pokot County and parts of the country.

KVDA is supplying tree seedlings to residents in landslide-prone areas, a move aimed at averting the tragedies brought about by flash floods and landslides in disaster-prone areas.

The Authority is encouraging residents to support the tree planting programme, which is aimed at promoting the area’s forest cover as well as boosting food security and livelihoods.

KVDA, in partnership with the Italian Cooperation, is set to plant 126 million fruit and tree seedlings in this Financial Year in the ASAL areas.

Among the counties to benefit from the fruit and tree planting exercise are West Pokot, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, and Samburu counties.

Speaking at Parua School in West Pokot County, KVDA Managing Director (MD), Sammy Naporos, noted that the agroforestry programme will enable the region to avert desertification and attain a 10 per cent forest cover aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.

“The Parua area has experienced a number of landslides, leading to loss of life and destruction of property due to landslides,” he cited.

“Among the mandates of KVDA is the promotion of conservation, especially the eco-system, and for KVDA, the Charangany eco-system is very key because most of the rivers draining towards Kerio Valley from Embobut, Aror, Lomut, Weiwei, and Muruny all originate from the Charangany eco-system,” MD Naporos said.

Naporos said that the tree planting programme is in line with the president’s directive to plant 15 billion trees by 2032 in the country.

“We have vetted the schools that will receive the tree seedlings and the farmers who will receive the tree and fruit seedlings to be ones that have fenced their farm, and they have promised to take good care of the seedlings they will plant,” MD Naporos said.

Naporos cited that the Authority is targeting landslide-prone areas such as Embobut, Aror, Lomut, Weiwei, Muruny, and Lellan highlands.

He said they are also targeting to plant trees in 50 schools, distribute them with 260,000 tree seedlings, and also support the farmers with fruit seedlings.

“We are currently promoting a number of fruit seedlings, and in the near future we will be launching a strategy of planting about 5 billion fruit seedlings,” Naporos said.

He said in the highland parts of Pokot South Constituency, including Lelan Ward, the KVDA is promoting the planting of hass avocados, not in hot areas of the County.

Naporos said the Authority has distributed tree seedlings in Elgeyo Marakwet County and Baringo and will be distributing over 200,000 seedlings in schools in Uasin Gishu and Nandi Counties.

He said in Elgeyo Marakwet, KVDA has managed to distribute over 50,000 mango seedlings to farmers to plant.

KVDA Chairperson, Mark Chesergon, called on farmers to plant the right trees in the right place for the right reason, to promote tree planting in escarpments prone to landslides in the region.

He encouraged the residents to plant two or more trees for every tree they cut, to increase the forest cover and help control soil erosion and soil degradation that have destroyed land in the area.

“We will be sensitising the community on the importance of conservation of the environment, so that when they harvest mature trees, they plant two or more trees in line with best agriculture practises,” Chesergon said.

He urged residents to partner with the government so they could benefit from the tree nursery project, among other goodies.

The Chairman  said the planting of trees by the Authority is an ambitious plan that helps put measures in place, to avert the calamities that are claiming many lives in the area.

He asked the residents to participate in tree planting programmes in rural and urban areas to combat the adverse effects of climate change, which lead to landslides and floods.

A resident, Samuel Kalesing’or, lauded the project, saying for a long time trees had not been planted in the region.

He requested that KVDA help them put up a tree nursery on one-acre public land, to enable tree seedlings to be planted in the region.

Tom Abuga,  Deputy Head Teacher at Parua Junior and Primary School, lauded the tree planting initiative and noted that it supports the president’s goal of 15 billion trees planted by the year 2032.

“Parua School is in an area that really needs the tree planting exercise because the area once experienced a serious landslide, and one of the factors that contributed to landslides was the lack of trees, and because of that, the soil easily moved away and even led to the killing of people,” according to Abuga.

He said that in 2020, more than 50 people lost their lives, property was destroyed, and more than 1,500 people were displaced in the Chesegon area after the flash floods and landslides. Parua School hosted the victims of the landslides during the evacuation exercise.

He disclosed that the school has been longing for various organisations to support them with tree seedlings for planting to enable the school to increase its forest cover and prevent tragedies caused by flash floods and landslides in disaster-prone areas.

By Richard Muhambe and Anthony Melly

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