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Planting Trees for a "Greener Kenya"

“Environmental protection has become a priority in this country and there is a lot of technical input the government is employing.” This statement could easily have come from any U.S.-based environmentalist. But, it comes from one based in Kenya.

Dennis Kiprop, a Spirit in Action partner in Eldoret, Kenya wrote recently to share with me about environmental movements in his country and explain how people are employing bio-intensive agriculture to replenish the nutrients in the soil. Dennis, SIA-supported small business leaders, and many others are planting trees to create a “greener Kenya”.

Kenya emits significantly less CO2 than the United States and still Kenyans are seeing the effects of global climate change. Currently, only 3% of Kenya’s original forests remain, a result of trees being cut down for timber and firewood. To help reforest their environment, four new tree nursery businesses were started with $150 Spirit in Action Small Business Fund (SIA SFB) grants in early 2010.

SIA partners in front of their many tree seedlings

The SIA business groups grew indigenous seedlings for two reasons. First, they are businesses, so they harvest the trees in a sustainable manner and sell the wood to neighbors. The businesses have so far been very successful and all have reported high demand for their product.

Secondly, they are working with other groups from three surrounding villages and Samuel Teimuge, a long-time SIA partner, to raise and plant the seedlings to protect their local water source. This part of their work receives additional support from Trees for the Future, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that has been supporting reforestation efforts for over 30 years. Since 2008, Trees for the Future has distributed just under half a million seeds to partnering organizations in Kenya, including Samuel Teimuge’s Ukweli Training and Development Center.

After a meeting with the groups to discuss their goals, Dennis reported, “They will protect six streams whose waters drain to Lake Victoria by planting around the catchments to maintain the reservoirs. They also want to eradicate predicted dryness. I like the way they are giving their time and energy more in long-term investments.”

As with all Spirit in Action projects, these groups are also thinking about how they can pass on the gift they have received. Dennis is enthusiastic as he tells me, “I think reforestation is one of the largest dreams for Kenya and we are all participating in Sharing the Gift and “paying it forward” to the three villages and their surroundings that benefits the entire region for a long time.”

“Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.” –Psalm 96:12

Dennis Kiprop tends to the tree seedlings.

Dennis Kiprop tends to the tree seedlings.

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