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Ministry of Energy and Petroleum supports residents in massive tree planting campaign

Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in collaboration with residents of Kithini location in Kitui west constituency, in Kitui County on Wednesday kicked off a massive tree planting exercise in the location.

The Ministry is targeting to support the community of the Kithini location to plant 18,000 trees seedlings, in efforts to improve forest cover within the area.

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum donated 18,000 tree seedlings and 450 clean cooking stoves to the Kithini communities during a ceremony held at Utoo AIC church in Kithini Location, Kitui West Constituency.

Secretary of the State Department of Renewable Energy, engineer Issac Kiva while presiding over the function, reiterated that donation of the trees seedlings to the residents was aimed at supporting the Presidential Landscape and Eco-System Restoration Programme that aims to see Kenya plant 15 billion trees by 2032.

He lamented that the destruction of forest cover and the environment continues to negatively affect people across the world, and there was a need to increase forest cover by planting trees across the country.

During the issuance of the Tree Seedlings, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum also donated to the local community improved cook stoves to ensure better utilization of biomass for sustainability and improved health of women and children.

The secretary noted that the State Department for Energy is using its Kenya Energy and Environmental Sector Social Responsibility Programme (KEEP) to support the restoration of degraded forest areas and support farmers with tree seedlings for the establishment of woodlots and on-farm afforestation.

He observed that KEEP is supporting the Presidential directive by planting 100,000 tree seedlings per year.

KEEP is a Social Responsibility Programme that is funded by contributions from all the Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies (SAGAs) in the State Department for Energy to support environmental sustainability programmes.

To achieve this feat, it is estimated that every Kenyan needs to plant 350 trees over the period in forest areas and farmlands for the Country to achieve 40 per cent tree cover.

He advised the community to protect and take care of the trees’ seedlings once they plant them, to ensure that the needed forest cover is realised.

“Through the KEEP project, the State Department for Energy is also involved in the rehabilitation of degraded water catchment areas which support hydropower production. KEEP is also targeting farmers for the establishment of woodlots on their farms to curtail the cutting of trees in forest areas to satisfy their energy needs” said the secretary, while handing over the 450 modern Jikos worth Sh 1.3 million.

He explained that modern Jikos use less wood and are health-friendly to users. He encouraged the local community to adopt the use of the modern Jikos, to reduce the destruction of trees in search of the cooking woods.

Engineer Kiva recalled that in the past week, the State Department for Energy issued farmers with close to 40,000 tree seedlings which Kamburaini location in Kieni Constituency was given 9,500 seedlings, Burguret Location in Kieni was given 9,000 seedlings, Buuri location in Meru County given 9,500 seedlings and Gakanga Beat along the Abadares forest area given 10,000 seedlings.

He said that the KEEP fund works with farmers and local Community Forest Associations to implement projects that are beneficial to the community and also have a positive impact on the environment. It aims to ensure improvement in soil and water quality as well as reduction in siltation in hydropower dams.

The project is designed to provide communities with a source of livelihood through the utilization of forest products during harvesting. Communities are involved in the preparation, planting of seedlings, spot weeding and protection of the growing tree seedlings.

 By Denson Mututo and Richard Makuthu


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