Kenya has committed to restore degraded ecosystem in latest bid aimed at securing livelihoods and addressing the impacts of climate change, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
To mark World Environment Day, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko represented President Uhuru Kenyatta at Garissa University grounds.
“We borrowed the planet from our children and hold it in trust for the future generations. There is need to protect and conserve it,” Uhuru said.
The World Environment Day is commemorated June 5 every year to rally efforts aimed at addressing challenges facing the planet.
This year’s theme was ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ act now, restore nature and livelihoods.
“Uhuru said the restoration exercise is at the heart of efforts aimed at combatting biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution. It is the canvas with which live is written,” Tobiko said.
Uhuru said the restoration is meant to ensure that the UN’s sustainable goals are met.
He said his administration is keen in ensuring comprehensive programs were being rolled out.
The Head of State said the Kenya Water Towers had been established water towers in the country. He said Mau forest has since been restored with 1.4 million tree seedlings.
The president said efforts to increase the tree cover has since been adopted by the government.
State intends to increase the tree cover to 10 percent by next year, a move that will see two billion trees planted at a cost of Sh48 billion.
Uhuru said the government had banned single use plastics as one way of addressing environmental challenges.
He said the adoption of clean energy has hit 90 percent and is set to hit 100 percent by 2030, adding that his administration is committed to enhancing UNEP’s capacity.
Tobiko said the 1000 tree seedlings planted at the University signified to the world and cowards that Kenya’s spirit is indomitable and that Kenyan society was resilient.
This was after 148 students at the University were gunned down by terror group in 2015.
“We planted trees and paid tributes to heroes and heroines to signify their eternity, they will be with us forever,” Tobiko said.
Tobiko said a woodlot will be established near the dormitory, the epicenter of the attack.
“Every student, lecturer, workers will adopt one or two trees and nurture them,” he said.
Tobiko urged the Governer Ali Korane, who was present, to ensure that the trees get sufficient water.
During the commemoration, National Environment Management Authority provided three 10,000 liters tanks to the University.
Korane on his part said the presence of refugee Camp had depleted the environment as people had been contracted to cut trees which are inturn used for cooking.
He said vegetation had been cleared in up to 250 kilometers. Korane said there has been persistent drought every year, a move that has livelihoods lost.
“Ninety five percent of people are nomadic pastoralists. Between 75 to 80 percent of livestock have died due to persistent drought and diseases,” he said.
Korane said urgent intervention is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change. He said climate change finds must be released by the National Treasury.
The governor at the same time decried degradation of environment by companies prospecting for minerals saying the county as well as the community had not been involved.
This, he said, is despite the fact that land in the county is owned communally. All licenses in operation should be suspended while new once should be stopped, he said.
Korane said there should be concurrence between the community, the county and companies adding that proper restoration after prospecting should be done.
Environment PS Chris Kiptoo said the single use of plastics ban is 80 percent successful. Kiptoo said there’s need for the public to take an active role in the protection of environment.
“This is the year for action, let us be responsible,” Kiptoo said. The PS said the government has adopted a circular model of waste management as opposed to linear one,” he said.
Kiptoo said the government has put in place policy regime on the protection of environment.
“Our main problem is enforcement and implementation,” he said, adding, “A lot of resources are needed to implement country’s nationally determined contribution.”
He said 62 million dollars in needed out of which 18 million dollars is for mitigation of climate change while 44 million dollars is for adaptation.
Kiptoo said Kenya Meteorology has since been reformed to provide accurate weather information for decision making.
The PS said the capacity of Kenya Forestry Research Institute has been enhanced to produce 200 metric tonnes of seeds.
He said each county will be supplied with 42.5 metric tonnes of seeds to enhance the forest cover.
Kiptoo said 1,400 schools have since been identified and are set to benefit from the seeds.
Some 160 prisons will also benefit with free seeds. They must however ensure that trees are nurtured to maturity.
Nema boss Mamo Boru said restoration of degraded ecosystem is set to enhance livelihoods.
“We need to put action collectively and individually,” he said.
Mamo said the authority is committed in protection of environment.