100 new schools have enrolled for Phase IV of the Schools Green Initiative Challenge (GIC) in the semi-arid counties of Embu, Kitui and Machakos. This comes as Phase II winners, Thua Primary school, toured Mombasa as part of their reward in leading 120 schools in the tree planting competition.
The Green Initiative Challenge (GIC) whose key sponsors are Bamburi Cement Ltd, KenGen Foundation and Better Globe Forestry has over 300 primary and secondary schools and hundreds of students participating in the competition with the aim of mitigating climate change as well as providing sustainable wood fuel and alternative income opportunities for the local communities.
In its fourth phase, 100 new GIC schools will compete in nurturing drought resistant Terminalia brownie, Senna siamea and Melia volkensi tree species in 0.5 acre plots at their institutions. The project aims at greening over 500 acres of the semi-arid counties of Embu, Kitui, and Machakos.
Speaking during the rewarding ceremony of Phase II winners at Thua Primary School in Kitui, Susan Maingi, Bamburi Cement Ltd Director, Corporate Affairs, Communications & Sustainable Development noted that the initiative sought to provide a practical learning environment for students and communities that are in these affected areas.
“This challenge is a source of inspiration to the young generation. It ensures that they learn through commitment in finding solutions and implementing them to make a difference in their society. It also supports the nation’s agenda of reviving our tree-forest cover and therefore supports not only the national goals but promotes commitment to reversing the climate change effects in arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya.” Noted Ms. Susan.
The Schools Green Initiative Challenge incorporates six of the 17 recently unveiled UN Sustainable Development Goals namely Quality Education, Climate Change, Clean Water & Sanitation, Life on Land, Climate Action, and also Partnerships for the goals. According to the organisers, the ultimate goal of the GIC is to raise the awareness and participation of school children in environmental conservation and ultimately increase the country’s forest cover from the current 7% to 10% that is recommended by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). The project will also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration, and the control soil erosion by increasing topsoil infiltration and reducing run-off.
KenGen Foundations’ Acting Managing Trustee, Anthony Igecha, noted that the initiative will scale up the challenge as the facilitators look towards increasing the number of participating schools.
“It is important that we note the contribution that the students are making towards creating a habitable and well conserved environment. Taking stock from the schools in the past phase as an example, the tree cover expected by end of this year will have increased on 460 acres with 324,300 tree seedlings and 113,956 passion and pawpaw fruits therefore promoting and encouraging our continued investment in long-term sustainable environmental conservation programs. We are also looking to expand our reach to other counties in Turkana, West Pokot and Mombasa Counties”, said Igecha.
Since inception in 2015 with an initial 81 schools from Embu and Machakos, the GIC has grown to involve more than 300 schools inclusive of Kitui County. Best performing schools stand a chance of winning education trips, scholarships, water tanks, infrastructure development, cash prizes among others. Currently, tree seedlings are being distributed to the new schools in order to take advantage of the ongoing rains.
Better Globe Forestry Limited, leaders in dry land afforestation, have feted this reward scheme terming it as a measure of acknowledging the input the students in the counties have made towards eradicating not only arid land but also behaviour change and poverty thus securing a better future for the community and the environment.