Andgate Foundation's Adopt a Tree-Miti Mashinani initiative is a Community Outreach program on environmental protection that targets partnership with willing players on mitigating climate change effects.Working closely with selected Schools, the Foundation commenced assessment exercises in December 2021. This included review of existing capacities of the Schools, identification and registration of participants (with the involvement of Parents/Guardians).
Based on the preceding steps, Twenty three (23) primary schools took up the initiative and some of them reported positive results within the first 2 months of implementation i.e from November 2021 to January 2022.
We visited Rarieda Primary School in January 2022; one of the primary schools selected within Mahaya zone and we were very impressed with the results. Rarieda Primary School is located in Nyanza province, Bondo Sub-County of Siaya County within South Asembo location of Rarieda Constituency. The geographical location map coordinates for this school is -0.19526 (Latitude), 34.33977 (Longitude). It is an ordinary mixed (boys and girls) day only government owned,church sponsored primary school.
The School is poised to be a pacesetter if their spirit is anything to go by. The School administration had demonstrated commitment by establishing a Tree Nursery to support the School in production of more seedlings, manage losses during transplanting and further support other neighboring schools and the local community as a sustainable source of seedlings.
Some of the strategies implemented by the School to achieve good results included:
1. Leveraging on the existing and active 4K' Club whose members were ready and willing to participate in the initiative.
4K' stands for (Kuungana, Kufanya, Kusaidia Kenya) which loosely translates to ‘Coming together, to Act, in order to Save Kenya.’ During the early 1980’ and 1990’s, the Kenyan Education system was founded on a curriculum that sought to encourage the adoption of Agriculture and tree planting by pupils in all primary schools in order to stimulate their interest in agriculture at an early age and contribute to the improvement of the national tree cover in Kenya . The idea weakened overtime, but in the recent past (2019) the Government approved the revival of the 4K clubs to support the realization of the Big Four Agenda under the Government's economic blue print of Vision 2030. This was aimed at supporting achievement of food and nutrition security through Agriculture and to also help mitigate on climate change effects in the country with specific involvement of minority groups at the grassroots.
2. The Head Teacher Mwalimu Vitalis Onyando had amassed several years of experience in tree husbandry; having initiated and successfully undertaken environmental conservation projects in different schools within the zone before his transfer to Rarieda primary School. Mwalimu is also very knowledgeable on varieties of tree species which forms a rich mix for the Nursery, i.e exotic and indigenous;
3. The school embraced team work and involved all relevant actors in the initiative including working closely with the 4k Club members to provide the much needed guidance and support to the pupils at each stage of implementation.
With great determination, the pupils planted Three Hundred (300) Siala ‘Markhamia lutea’ Tree seedlings which had germinated and were potted awaiting transplanting.They also established a Nursery bed for (othoo) Soap berry tree, Yago ‘Kigelia Africana,’ and Eucalyptus whose seeds were already germinating.
All was not however rosy, despite the very positive outcomes at inception. The Pupils had encountered several challenges while setting up the Nursery and planting trees. One major challenge was the prolonged dry season which had lasted from November 2021 to January 2022; this meant that the pupils had to fetch water from the nearby Lake Victoria for watering the seedlings.Lake Victoria is the world's second largest fresh water lake that majestically lies on the Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania border. They also reported seed dormancy as a result of the drought and inadequate potting bags for the seedlings. They also lacked water storage facilities (watering cans and drums) and were therefore forced to make several trips to the Lake on a daily basis to fetch water for the seedlings. This was not only laborious; but it also consumed their study time making some of them fall behind in their classwork.
The Foundation was compelled to chip in;despite its meager resources and support the pupils in order to sustain the tempo and encourage the pupils to keep up with the good work already started.
1. Left: Some of the seedlings at the Nursery awaiting transplanting.
2. Below Right: Pupils carry the donated jerricans supervised by Mwalimu Victor Ochieng'
Having understood their plight, we donated thirty (30) pieces of 10 Litre Jerricans to be used to ferry water from the nearby Lake Victoria during the dry season. Additionally, we purchased a 320 Litre Barrel for water storage, to reduce the frequency of the pupils going to fetch water from the Lake at the expense of their studies and for water storage during the rainy season so that they do not have to go to the Lake at all. We also donated two (2) Watering cans to them.
The elated pupils led by their Teacher promised to uphold their environmental conservation efforts.We have continued to monitor progress and in the process visited many other schools and sites in order to give support, identify any glaring gaps and propose intervention measures in order to breathe life into the Miti-Mashinani initiative. We look forward to collaborating with the County government, national government and other players in order to secure the much needed resources and support for the success of this initiative.