By Nemuel Ondima
Family Bank, The Family Group Foundation, Green Blue Foundation Africa and The Ministry of Environment and Forestry joined other stakeholders to mark International Day of Forests as the parties officially launched the first restoration phase of 10 acres of Ngong Hills Forest as part of the restoration programme for forests and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) in Kenya.
Family Bank has committed KES 5 million for two years for the Ngong Forest Restoration Model to support tree growing, conserve and enhance water availability; and develop and sustainably use natural resources for the benefit of local communities around the Ngong Hills Forest while employing thousands of youths within the area. According to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, it is estimated that the Ngong Hills Forest requires about a million trees to restore its forest cover.
Speaking during the launch, the Deputy Governor of Kajiado, H.E Martin Moshisho attributed the growth of tree and forest cover of the County from 3% to 7% to such concerted efforts of both the public and private sector.
Reiterating his comments was the Chief Guest, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry, H.E Keriako Tobiko who commended the efforts of the County Government of Kajiado and the private sector partners towards increasing the national forest cover.
“Currently, the national forest cover stands at 8.3% against the national target of 10%. I am happy to see that Kajiado County’s tree and forest cover is growing tremendously and this is a challenge to all of us at county and at the national level,” added H.E Keriako Tobiko.
“I therefore urge other private sector players to emulate the efforts demonstrated by Family Bank and open up your hearts to give back to the environment which will in turn promote and enhance sustainable consumption and production,” he concluded.
The restoration programme for the area will involve tree growing of 10,000 seedlings, soil and water conservation, stabilization of gulleys, water harvesting for animals, grazing management. Degradation of the areas has seriously compromised the integrity of the public forest and the downstream Kiserian dam that serves Kiserian town and the neighbouring community.
“As a key player in the financial sector, our commitment goes beyond tree planting but by also being key drivers of the strategic decisions that are key in climate change adaptation such as matters in infrastructure, economic activities, adaptive technologies, among others,” said Family Bank CEO Rebecca Mbithi.
“In line with our strategic direction is to partner with like-minded organisations to scale up this Ngong Hills Project and also be able to duplicate the same model and scale up the project across the country. Therefore, this is a prototype that we aim to be replicated throughout the country and the continent,” she concluded.
Present during the celebration were Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, NETFUND, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, County Commissioner and other local government representatives.