The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and its affiliated agencies have teamed up in an environmental conservation initiative targeting tree planting in Kisumu schools.
The initiative comes hot on the heels of an effort by the Kisumu County Government to increase the forest cover in the devolved unit. Currently, Kisumu County has forest cover of less than one per cent.
The Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu, Diamond Trust Bank, Nation Media Group, Jubilee Insurance and Aga Khan Education Services identified five schools for the partnership and handed over 500 fruit and indigenous tree seedlings for planting.
The five are Shauri Moyo Primary School, Arina Primary School, Highway Primary School, Kisumu Union Primary School and Kudho Primary School.
AKDN regional staff took part in the tree planting exercise at the schools on Wednesday in an event organised to mark this year's World Environmental Day, with the theme of environmental ecosystem restoration.
AKDN staff were led by Jane Wanyama (CEO, Aga Khan Hospital), Erick Omuko (Kisumu and regional manager, Jubilee Insurance), Caroline Wafula (Nation Media Group), Leila Ghazi (DTB WestEnd Branch Manager) and Kerry Ouma (head teacher of Aga Khan Primary School, Kisumu).
On its part, Kisumu County has embarked on integrating schools, hospitals and other institutions to increase forest cover. In a new plan announced by Governor Anyang Nyong'o a fortnight ago, Kisumu residents and entrepreneurs will be required to allocate 10 to 20 per cent of their land for tree planting and landscaping in an effort to achieve a target of 10 million trees in the city.
"Environment degradation is a grave matter, not only in Kisumu but across the globe. We are racing against time to increase our forest cover from the estimated 1 per cent currently to the required 10 per cent," said Prof Nyong'o.
Speaking at the launch of the tree planting event at Shauri Moyo primary school on Wednesday, Kisumu City Manager Abala Wanga said the county government will identify centres of excellence for tree nursery planting.
"We want to ensure private and public hospitals establish tree nurseries in the next 24 months," he said.
"We have resolved to restore our rivers and lake fronts after a lot of environmental degradation. This is the greening Kisumu process and we thank AKDN for this initiative...Aga Khan Hospital will establish a garden that other hospital institutions within the city can visit and learn from."
Speaking on behalf of the AKDN agencies in Kisumu, Ms Mercy Kimutai, Manager OSH and Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu, said AKDN has committed to go green in all its operations and partner with like-minded stakeholders.
"This is just one of them where we are partnering with schools and we are calling on children to adopt a tree seedling and nurture it to maturity. We also do so many other activities towards going green and we are measuring our operations' carbon footprints, which we do on a quarterly basis. We are able to see the impact our organisations are having," she said.
Since February, Kisumu has undertaken beautification of the city as it aims for an eco-friendly transformation of its parks and roundabouts. Some of the beautification projects have been taken up by the corporate sector.
Mr Wanga now says that any building erected in Kisumu must have a proper landscaping and tree planting plan included.
"This directive will be applied in schools, hospitals and churches. We intend to restore the natural resource. This calls for all to participate in tree planting."