Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Ms. Priscillah Nganga
Kenya recently marked its first official public holiday for nationwide tree planting on 13th November. The people of Gituto village in Embu County, where Priscillah, a CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer, participated in this initiative. This day is part of a government plan to grow 15 billion trees by 2030 to fight climate change.
Typically, when governments, non-profit organizations, and institutions give directives like this, people wait to be provided with trees to plant in their homes, schools, and churches. However, the benefits of such activities are directly to us. Shifting from conventional farming to agroforestry brings various benefits to communities as they face the threat of climate change. Trees on or around farms have been shown to promote soil health, control microclimates, increase carbon sequestration, and boost biodiversity on a variety of scales. Trees increase soil organic matter and carbon content. Trees contribute to the framework that allows variety to flourish both above and below the ground. Trees also support innovative, diverse agricultural businesses. So why do we wait?
During a training on Asset-Based Community Development, Priscillah challenged the community members of Gituto to be problem solvers by using the knowledge, skills, and materials within their reach to create solutions without having to wait. The message was clear – don’t wait for others to provide the trees, take the initiative, and plant them yourselves.
The members of Gituto village took up the challenge and prepared a tree nursery with over 1400 trees of different species and benefits that they will plant in their homes and farms for personal gain and others to sell to make an extra income. Men and women united with great teamwork, further stamping the African proverb that says ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together’. Community members contributed polythene bags (mostly from recycled milk bags), seedlings collected from various parts of Nthawa Ward, and their time and energy. Two community members who are skilled in innovative agriculture gave training on what trees to plant and why.
Gituto villagers may have missed celebrating tree planting with other Kenyans on 13th November as their nursery was still under preparation. However, this is a step in the right direction to not only hit Kenya’s tree-planting targets but also an opportunity for African communities to realize their potential of coming together and using their resources for social and economic growth. Tree planting is not a one-day-a-year activity, and in a few weeks, Priscillah will be joining these villagers on a tree-planting day of their own, waiting for no one.
This story clearly shows the ability of African communities to unite, share responsibility, and promote rural development. As a CorpsAfrica volunteer, Priscillah believes her role in the community she serves is to mobilize the community’s strengths, needs, and aspirations and to support them in creating and implementing solutions to their issues. She hopes that this is just the beginning.