Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) has embarked on planting over 500,000 seedlings by the end of the year in a bid to conserve the Cherangany ecosystems and the project is currently being aided by their six mega tree nurseries within the valleys.
KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos said their mandate in the region is to conserve the environment through improving food security and conserving the indigenous forest that are at the verge of extinction because of over exploitation for charcoal, timber logging and climate change.
“Our focus is food security through planting of fruit seedlings and conserving the indigenous trees that have economic value to our business and the community. Many communities depend on this indigenous tree for medicines and preserving them will help them in medications and conserve our environment at large,” said Naporos.
He said the focus is agroforestry and there is a strong link between food security and environmental conservation that needs to be protected to aid the presidential directive of 10 per cent forest cover through planting of over two billion trees and encouraging local communities to be part of the change.
The MD oversaw tree planting exercise in several schools in Kipsaos area in Elgeyo Marakwet County and informed their blueprint mandate is to conserve the Cherangany water towers that will conserve environment and aid in their Mango juice and honey businesses as well as uplifting economic standards of the communities.
“Most of the rivers draining to Kerio-valley river emanates from Cherangany ecosystems and having adequate water in the rivers means support to livelihoods and upholds government’s agenda on food security in that the water aid in a number of KVDA irrigation schemes that they are supporting farmers within the seven counties under their mandates,” explains Naporos.
He informed that they were focusing their energy on conserving forested areas, and they would continue planting in schools and other government institutions that will help preserve the trees and not for the sake of planting but ensure the end goal is realised.
“Our major focus is conserving the Kerio valleys as it encompasses 67 per cent of the Cherangany water towers, today we are planting tree seedlings at Kipsaos area one of the cherangany blocks and our next area is Kipkabus and we have adopted Kipkabus forest in order to plant 5000 bamboo seedlings as a reafforestation measure to improve on the forest cover within this areas,” said Naporos.
“In aiding agroforestry in these uplands areas, we have supplied Avocado, passion fruit and Mango seedlings within the larger ASAL areas, and it will go a long way in generating income to our farmers and boost the forest cover area within the region,” added Naporos.
KVDA Chairman Mr Mark Chesergon reiterated their key mandate as environmental conservation, and they are going to ensure they are up to task in planting and preserving the planted seedlings to gain the intended purpose.
“The seedlings are going to cost three million and this indicates they are expensive and require attention to enable them to reach maturity without going to waste. In this way we are going to achieve the presidential directive of 10 per cent forest cover by the end of this year through unity as a country,” Chesergon noted.
Lawi Kibira, Metkei ward MCA, said the county has partnered with other organisations in reclaiming the depleted forest areas within the county and indicated they are the second forested county after Isiolo county and currently standing at 37 per cent.
“As the government of Elgeyo Marakwet we are endeavouring to preserve our environment and we are assuring KVDA of support and preserve forest areas to improve the climate of this area,” said Lawi.
He called on the locals to embrace environmental conservation programs which in the long run would reduce the conflicts that emanate from the limited shared resources among conflicting communities.
David Kipsaina area farmer expressed his gratitude to KVDA as he receives hass avocado seedlings that he said would boost his income more from his cabbage farming.
“These avocado seedlings are of great benefit to us and will expand our income and in the long run I’ll have played my part in environmental conservation. This is a good investment that I will encourage my children to undertake and preserve the environment,” said Kipsaina.
Another farmer from the area Ms Rose Ndatich called on farmers to be champions of the environment.
“We have the world’s best athletes coming from this region and the reason behind is favourable climate as a result of trees that produce enough oxygen for athletic activities,” said Ndatich.
She said she is going to advocate to other farmers within the area to embrace the tree planting activities because their farming depends on a well-preserved environment.
KVDA has geared up its efforts to reclaim the Cherangany water towers that have been affected through climate change, conflict within communities and regenerating this initiative would not only boost their business but also conserve the environment and provide alternative sources of income that would significantly reduce conflict within the pastoral communities.
By Hassan Adan Ali