The elders called on the people who destroy trees to stop immediately, they should not cut trees to make charcoal for sale it is harmful to the environment and African traditions,Click to edit the intro
Mijikenda Kaya Elders have launched an ambitious programme to plant 20 million trees in the coastal region as part of their contribution in climate change mitigation.
The elders, drawn from all the nine Mijikenda tribes in the region, said the region has suffered greatly because of disasters such as floods and drought caused by massive destruction of trees.
Their target is to plant 10 million trees during this long rain period and another 10 million during the short rains and shall include both indigenous and fruit-producing trees.
They officially unveiled the programme in Marafa, Magarini constituency, in a colourful ceremony that brought together Kaya elders from all corners of the region and graced by Magarini MP Harrison Kombe.
Elders said they came up with the initiative because for long the government has left them behind in the conservation efforts despite the fact that climate change was a global crisis.
While thanking the elders for the initiative, the legislator said Kaya elders are the ones who have for long been conserving the environment in the kayas, which act as Mijikenda’s holy places.
He said Magarini has been affected by drought because of the areas that do not have trees making it difficult to attract rains.
“We shall ensure we reach out to those areas which have low forest cover so as to plant as many trees as possible,” he said.
Mwinyi Mrisho, Mijikenda Kaya Elders Association chairman, said they set the date because God had brought rain and wanted to ensure they aggressively plant as many trees as possible.
He said the move was aimed at reducing the effects of climate change and preventing soil erosion in areas that have low forest cover.
“Trees are the ones that bring rain, they are the ones used as medicine, they are everything that is important for our livelihoods,” he said.
Mrisho called on the people who destroy trees to stop immediately, adding that they should not cut trees to make charcoal for sale as it is harmful to the environment and African traditions.
He said some of the trees planted are fruits that future generations shall eat, others will be used to produce into herbal medicines and attract rainfall.
Mrisho said they will continue planting trees because they have seen the importance of conserving the environment and safeguarding the land they live in.
The Kaya elder also called on residents in drought-stricken areas to begin massive tree-planting exercises so as to ensure the forest cover is increased nationwide.
“We urge all governments — the county and national governments — to support us so as to plant trees in large numbers at times there are areas which are not accessible we need help even from international organisations,” he said.
Tsuma Nzai Kombe, the coordinator of the Mjikenda Kaya Elders Association, said they planned the initiative in Kaya Fungo early this year of conservation in the region because the plans of conserving the environment did not involve them.
He said they are planting trees like mangoes, cashew nuts, coconuts and indigenous trees as the elders are conversant with them.
He said every location will have a Kaya elder who will lead the initiative of conservation.
Tsuma urged all Kenyans and organisations such as Kenya Ports Authority, Mombasa Cement and salt firms to support the initiatives of the elders in ensuring they achieve their objective of environmental conservation.
“Our target is to plant 10 million trees and the second phase is another 10 million trees, we also have plans to protect them as we have also come up with Bylaws."
Grace Mbodze, a youth representative of the Mijikenda Kaya Elders Association, called on the youth to join the elders in the conservation programme so as to help in increasing tree cover.
“We sat and thought it better to unite and begin planting trees because we have experienced drought in the Coast because of the tree destruction,” she said.
Beatrice Kahindi, a radio presenter of Kaya FM and Peace and Cultural ambassador, said climate change has really affected Kenya and the only way to mitigate that is by planting trees.
She said the problem was contributed by the fact that people started destroying trees to make charcoal and called on everyone to plant trees.
Magarini subcounty administrator Richard Lwambi said the county was fully supporting the programme as Governor Gideon Mung’aro was keen on ensuring that conservation is given a priority.