Almost four out of ten Kenyans are poor. Accord­ing to the Kenya Nation­al Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, near­ly ten mil­lion of the remain­ing 30.39 mil­lion are clas­si­fied as ‘float­ing mid­dle-class.’ This means that they are one finan­cial shock away from pover­ty. In oth­er words, a sin­gu­lar finan­cial cri­sis occa­sioned by events like a major med­ical bill or a job loss, would shove them straight into poverty.
Thank­ful­ly, a new green dawn has arrived. Trees are at the heart of this green dawn. When we take care of trees, they rec­i­p­ro­cate and take care of us. They replen­ish our health, our rela­tion­ships, our liveli­hoods and our spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. That’s why we launched the ‘Plant your Age’ cam­paign more than ten years ago.
The seeds of this cam­paign were plant­ed after Nobel Lau­re­ate Wan­gari Maathai passed on in 2011. To hon­or her lega­cy, I called on Kenyans to plant 71 Trees to com­mem­o­rate her sus­tain­abil­i­ty efforts. Kenyans from all walks of life heed­ed this call and estab­lished ‘Wan­gari Green Cor­ners’ coun­ty­wide. Among them was Pres­i­dent Ruto who was then a cab­i­net min­is­ter. He over­saw the estab­lish­ment of the inau­gur­al Wan­gari Green cor­ner at Uni­ver­si­ty of Nairo­bi, Low­er Kabete grounds now Wan­gari Maathai Insti­tute for Peace and Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies accom­pa­nied by Prof. Kia­ma the head of the insti­tu­tion. On 30th April 2012 For­mer Pres­i­dent Kiba­ki for­mal­ly launched this ini­tia­tive which had now evolved to ‘Plant Your Age’ dur­ing the Nation­al Tree Plant­i­ng Day held in Kitui. The Plant Your Age Day is now cel­e­brat­ed annu­al­ly every 14th Day of Sep­tem­ber and has so far result­ed in the grow­ing of hun­dreds of mil­lions of trees across the coun­try and beyond.
Pres­i­dent Ruto’s admin­is­tra­tion has now set a new ambi­tious but achiev­able goal of real­iz­ing 30 per­cent tree cov­er by 2032. The pre­vi­ous goal of retired Pres­i­dent Uhuru’s Admin­is­tra­tion was 30 per­cent by 2050 while for­mer Pres­i­dent Kibaki’s goal was 10 per­cent by 2030.
For us to attain the new goal, we must metic­u­lous­ly exe­cute three things.
First­ly, we need a mar­shal plan to guide nation­al grass­roots tree plant­i­ng. Noth­ing beats a sim­pli­fied yet fas­ci­nat­ing per­son­al­ized tar­get like just ‘Plant Your Age’. If each Kenyan plant­ed trees equiv­a­lent to their age, we will safe­ly grow a bil­lion trees going by our medi­an age of 20.1. If each cor­po­rate through a tax rebate pro­gram sup­port­ed the grow­ing of trees equiv­a­lent to the num­ber of cus­tomers or prod­ucts that they pro­duce, then we would eas­i­ly achieve anoth­er 9 bil­lion trees through pri­vate nurs­eries and grass­roots move­ments. If we assign each coun­ty a small num­ber of 100 mil­lion trees, then they would com­pete towards plant­i­ng 4.7 bil­lion trees. Final­ly rel­e­vant Gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions will seal the 15 bil­lion trees Ruto deal by grow­ing 300 mil­lion trees. The Kenya For­est Ser­vice sup­port­ed by a Steer­ing Com­mit­tee will mon­i­tor and eval­u­ate targets.
Sec­ond­ly, we must roll up our sleeves and work hard in plant­i­ng and grow­ing these 15 bil­lion trees. We must endeav­or to deploy exist­ing green heroes who have tire­less­ly demon­strat­ed pas­sion over the years at the grass­roots level.
To this end tree seedlings must be pur­chased direct­ly from com­mu­ni­ty-owned tree nurs­eries not bro­kers. As I have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten in this col­umn, I bought my first Mer­cedes from tree seedlings’ sales, which proves that trees can cre­ate wealth.
Final­ly, we must learn from past expe­ri­ences espe­cial­ly as regards tree plant­i­ng vs tree grow­ing. In the past, as many as 90 per­cent of plant­ed trees nev­er sur­vived. We can­not con­tin­ue plant­i­ng trees in unse­cured fields. Peri­od. We must strate­gi­cal­ly facil­i­tate avail­able idle land and water for com­mu­ni­ties to estab­lish tree grow­ing ini­tia­tives. Any oth­er effort that nev­er yield­ed fruit in the past must be avoid­ed like the plaque. The 15 bil­lion trees Ruto deal must spur unmatched eco­nom­ic empow­er­ment through learn­ing from our past mis­takes. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Limareng kaptum zablon
    December 14, 2022 6:34 pm

    Am so grate­ful to heard about plant­i­ng of trees espe­cial­ly west pokot coun­ty pokot south sub county

  • please I need to plant tree but I don’t have cypress seedlings!!! is there’s any to assist me 1500 seedlings of cypress

  • Bernard Chepkoria
    December 17, 2022 4:02 pm

    thanks for such good inno­v­a­tive, plant your age, im part of the movement


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