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As the country marked the first National Tree Planting Day led by His Excellency President William Ruto in Makueni County, KEMRI joined other government agencies under the ministry of health in tree planting exercise at Kipkabus Forest Station, Tingwa HZ in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
The exercise that kicked off countrywide on 13th November 2023, is a government initiative in hope of planting 15 billion trees by 2032 to tackle climate change crisis and deforestation amid worsening impacts such as severe drought in the country and the wider Horn of Africa region. The holiday was set to achieve a minimum of planting 100 million seedlings which is expected to rise to 500 million trees by the end of the ongoing short rain season.
As the morning rains subsided in many parts of the country, government officials led the tree-planting activities in different counties with the Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ministry of Health (MoH), Ms. Nakhumicha S. Wafula and the Permanent Secretary (PS), Medical Services, Mr. Harry Kimtai leading the health fraternity at Kipkabus Forest station.
The event which was also attended by the Elgeyo Marakwet County Governor, Wesley Rotich, KEMRI Board
Chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Ali, KEMRI Ag. DG Prof. Elijah Songok, County Commissioners, KEMRI members of staff and other climate smart champions in the county achieved planting of 70,000 trees, both indigenous and medicinal.
In her speech, Nakhumicha underscored the government’s commitment in coming up with measures to combat climate change events sating that, the Ministry of Health will contribute in the venture by collectively growing 2.5 million trees annually. The CS emphasized that tree planting is a sustainable approach towards environmental conservation and soil protection and every citizen has a responsibility to protect the environment from degradation and adverse effects of climate change.
She further added that efforts to mitigate climate change was not just a responsibility of the state, but also a collective action of individuals and organizations. “This tree planting exercise should not be a merely one-time endeavor for selected individuals or organizations, but a continuous, collaborative sustainable practice
to safeguard our environment and promote ecological balance and resilience,” she said.
Mr. Kimtai, articulated a compelling perspective on the significance of tree growing with a major focus being not only for the conservation of the environment but also for their medicinal value.
“I am glad that today, we have planted different indigenous and medicinal tree seedlings that have great significance in the research of therapies for various non communicable diseases in our society,” he elucidated.
Dr. Abdullahi Ali, in his address emphasized that integrating medicinal trees in environmental initiatives demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the interconnectedness between human, health, environmental well-being and climate resilience.
“KEMRI will continue to put more emphasize on growing medicinal trees because of their value in research. KEMRI understands the significance of trees in its research because through research on natural remedies for ailments, the institute continues to utilize various medicinal plants in its innovation potentially leading to the discovery of new drugs or therapies that are both effective and environmentally sustainable.” He remarked.
KEMRI Ag. DG, Prof. Elijah Songok who shared similar sentiments with the Board chair reiterated that it was prudent for the country to not only plant trees but do a follow up and adopt a tree to ensure its growth citing that future generations would benefit from the medicinal trees as their health will be safe guarded.
The tree planting will be monitored through an internet app, which monitors the exercise by allowing individuals and organizations to record activities, including the plant species, number and date planted. The Jaza Miti app will also help people plant the appropriate seedlings by matching the site with the appropriate species, according to the environment ministry.