The West Pokot community has been challenged to grow more trees for a better environment to enhance sustainable development.
Speaking during a tree planting drive at various schools in West Pokot Sub county where 20,000 tree seedlings were provided, Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director (MD) Sammy Naporos underscored the value of planting more trees to increase the forest cover in the region known to be the water tower for rivers traversing various counties in the North Rift and parts of Western Kenya.
Naporos said KVDA is targeting to plant 500,000 trees in the next six months within the region calling for close partnerships from the community members in the area.
“We have many rivers emanating from the Cherangani Ecosystem that support so many livelihoods in the lower parts. We have a lot of siltation in Turkwel Dam and landslides resulting from change in land use systems among them enhanced cultivation activities,” stated the MD.
Naporos said they were targeting learning institutions since they are well protected hence many seedlings planted would grow to maturity.
He urged the residents to continuously engage in tree planting imploring them to take advantage of the ongoing heavy rains for environmental protection and sustainable livelihoods.
The MD further encouraged community members to consider planting of fruit trees saying it not only increases forest cover but also ensures improved nutrition together with acting as a steady source of income.
“We have a steady supply of grafted mango seedlings and oranges which have proven to do very well within the Kerio Valley region,” he mentioned.
KVDA Chairman Mark Chesergon reiterated the authority’s commitment in empowering the community members in forging a common culture of planting more trees for environmental protection.
“We have been training farmers and empowering them so that the onus of tree planting does not just remain with KVDA. The authority will continue supporting the residents to make it a culture for them to be planting trees and protecting those already existing,” said Chesergon.
The community members noted charcoal burning and cutting down of trees for cultivation as a threat to the ecosystem lauding KVDA for the initiative of supplying tree seedlings.
They commended the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for intensifying patrols and apprehending those found engaging in logging.
West Pokot Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Chief Inspector Phillip Ndiema affirmed that their security team was on high alert and several people have been arrested and charged with destruction of forests.
By Richard Muhambe