IFRC


Greening Kenya to address environmental sustainability and climate change

Published: 17 April 2014 14:39 CET

By Susan Onyango, IFRC

The Government of Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross Society, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have signed a tripartite agreement to jointly undertake the Sustainable Environment and Restoration Programme (SERP) aimed at improving environmental and climate change management in the country.

Climate change ranks among the greatest global issues today, with the most vulnerable people, mainly in developing countries, bearing the brunt of changing weather patterns. The Kenyan economy, specifically agriculture and tourism which support the livelihoods of the majority of people, has not been spared from the effects of climate change. Declining forest cover has affected water towers as well as wildlife diversity.

“We are all alive to the fact that forest cover is critical to the Kenyan economy,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program and Under Secretary General of the United Nations. “SERP will be a game-changer in conservation efforts, and places Kenya at the forefront to achieving the 10 per cent threshold that will turn the tide against deforestation and its effects.”

As part of Kenya’s development strategy, Vision 2030, the Government of Kenya aims to carry out environmental management initiatives including increasing forest cover, protecting and restoring river basins and water towers, and managing solid waste.

“A substantive part of this programme will involve the planting of trees, bamboo and other shrubs,” said Professor Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. “This is intended to conserve our biodiversity, protect our water catchments, protect water sources, conserve soil, create wealth, and contribute to the global fight against climate change.”

Billions of new trees

The programme will be implemented as a partnership between county governments, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, and the Kenya Red Cross Society, through its network of 70,000 volunteers, active in 63 branches. The majority of these volunteers are young people, both in and out of school. Red Cross clubs will also be involved in the establishment of tree nurseries, and the sensitization and mobilization of communities to plant and nurture the trees.

“The Kenya Red Cross Society will support these initiatives by planting 2.5 billion trees and shrubs by 2018, and carrying out other environment management interventions including waste management, enhanced river basin and wetlands rehabilitation and restoration,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross and IFRC Vice President. “We will also focus on the development of climate information and early warning systems, public education and awareness, environmental education in schools, as well as enhancing knowledge on adaptation to – and mitigation against – climate change.”

A major part of the programme will emphasize the care of trees, including a monitoring mechanism to ensure that trees planted under the programme will not be cut down.

IFRC will coordinate the participation of local and international organizations, as well as provide technical support on public education and awareness. It will build on tools that have been developed and implemented within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement over the years to support National Societies in implementing large-scale public awareness and education campaigns in the field of disaster risk reduction.

“Climate change has become a major global issue with affects all over the world,” said Alasan Senghore, IFRC Director for Africa. “Developing countries – and more particularly their poorest inhabitants – do not have the means to fend off floods and other natural disasters that are becoming more common. Their economies are largely dependent on agriculture which makes them more vulnerable to climate change.

“In line with IFRC’s own strategies linked to the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, we will work with the Kenya Red Cross Society to support the Government of Kenya in realizing its Vision 2030 on environmental conservation and to address the root causes and consequences of climate change.”

The project will target tree planting within identified degraded water catchment areas, riverine areas, schools and public areas. It will also aim to encourage communities to be involved in agro forestry. Additionally, private landowners will be encouraged to plant trees on their land. Tree planting promotions will be carried out within arid and semi-arid areas while community groups will be encouraged to set up tree nurseries that will also act as a source for seedlings.

For more on SERP, please visit www.serp.or.ke and on Twitter @SERP_Kenya  #kuzakijani




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