The Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) has partnered with the Israel Embassy in Kenya to sensitise people and engage communities on the importance of conserving nature through tree planting.
Rev. Phyllis Byrd Ochilo, the Director of Just Communities notes that this partnership is part of a larger initiative by OAIC that seeks to plant over 100 million trees in Africa. The Tree for life campaign seeks to respond to effects of deforestation in the continent that has led to frequent droughts as well as massive erosion in the continent.
“Our goal is to plant no less than 100 million trees in the next 4 years throughout Africa. OAIC plans to engage with communities to plant trees all over Africa to prevent natural calamities from drought to erosion and other calamities that continue to affect many African countries. Some of these wetlands face serious threats due to human and animal encroachment. The program intends to plant indigenous trees which are resistant to drought especially in the arid and semi-rid areas. OAIC believes that caring for the environment is part of the African Independent Churches culture and theology. The traditional African worldview sees the environment as both natural and divine This means that there is an inter-dependence and peaceful co-existence between plants, animals and humanity,” notes Rev. Phyllis.
Many parts of the African Continent continue to experience devastating droughts. East Africa, West Africa (Nigeria in particular) and Southern Africa are some of the regions that are currently experiencing these challenges consequently leading to the loss of lives especially among the women, children and the aged. Furthermore, there’s loss of millions of livestock due to communal wars as a result of competition over grazing land.
OAIC therefore purposes to plan for the planting of trees which shall be accompanied by trainings to communities on tree panting techniques, blended with the traditional knowledge on effective care of the trees as well as encouraging communities to start tree nurseries and linking the program to long term income generating activities for these communities.
Part of the plan is to encourage communities to have and manage tree nurseries and integrate tree planting activities in their various celebratory events such as: birth of a new child, commemoration of loved ones, planting seasons and thanksgiving for harvest.
The partnership with the Embassy of Israel is important as OAIC continues to seek for more partnerships for development on issues of climate change and resilience.
On 22nd April, the Embassy of Israel launched the “Israel Forest” in Lari Block in Uplands Kiambu County on Friday 21st April, together with other partners that included the OAIC. The forest will cover 1,526 hectares. 4,000 indigenous trees were planted with the ultimate goal being to plant 10,000 trees.
The Ambassador of Israel to Kenya, HE Yahel Vilan, during the launch noted that the cooperation between the State of Israel, Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and other partners was commendable in ensuring that re-afforestation processes in Kenya was effective. “I am encouraged by the positive response our call for planting trees received clearly showing the importance of environmental conservation. This is a culture that Israel greatly values and will be delighted to share our experiences on new conservation technologies available. Kenyans and Israel have been friends long before Kenya’s independence. Israel has managed to plant over 240 million tress surpassing natural vegetation turning the desert into a blooming country,” he noted.
The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural resources Professor Judi Wakhungu noted that the ministry was spearheading the attainment of ten percent forest cover in Kenya in line with Kenya’s vision 2030. “The proposed establishment of a tree nursery in Nyambari will go a long way in conserving two forest blocks: Nyamweru and Lari which are part of the wider Aberdare forest ecosystem important water catchment areas. The Horn of Africa has experienced severe drought and famine leading to the loss of lives across the continent exacerbating conflicts especially in the Northern parts of Kenya due to scarcity of pasture. Livestock have been moved to forests to cushion themselves from he ravages of drought and thus the need to develop and increase resilience of our forests more than ever,” she noted
She reiterated the importance of water for Kenya’s rapidly growing population considering that Kenya’s forest ecosystems are key water catchment areas and sources of major rivers thus the importance of forest conservation and management.
The African Independent Church (AIC) present during this celebration was the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA). The Pastor in charge of the church Samuel Karanja Karigii was present together with the Chief of LARI location Alice Ngugi. Mary Njeri Mbugua amongst other congregants of the church that attended too.
Other blocks that will trees will also be planted are:
- Nyambari block (situated at Nyambari centre on the Nairobi-Naivasha-Nakuru highway) and
- Nyamweru Block (6 kilometers off Kimende Centre on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway).
The exercise was part of the marking Israel’s 69th Anniversary Independence set to be celebrated on May 2, 2017. Next year Israel will be 70 years old.