“You don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.”
Here at Sanergy we share Greenbelt Movement founder Wangari Muta Maathai’s sentiment. (Unbowed, pp 137-38) We proved her right last week, with the aid of one hundred primary school students.
Bright Angels Academy, Stevens Group of Schools Academy, and Jaombi Foundation Primary School, three schools that provide Fresh Life Toilets for their students’ use, joined us last Wednesday for our World Environment Day community cleanup, edutainment, and school tree planting ceremonies.
When Lillian, a twelve-year-old Bright Angels Academy student was asked about the importance of planting trees in her school’s courtyard, she said “It is important to keep our environment clean. If we do not take care of the environment, then we will become sick.”
The Kenya Forest Service and UN Environment Programme recently released a report stating that from 2009-2010, malaria resulting from deforestation had cost the Kenyan government 30.7 billion Kenyan shillings (about $361 million), or 1.4% of GdP in health care costs. Malaria is the primary treatment provided by the Kenyan public health care system. In 2009 the government issued 17 million doses of malaria medications to its citizens.
In addition to urban settlements, KFS and UNEP attribute the deforestation to unregulated charcoal production, indigenous tree logging, marijuana cultivation, farming in indigenous forests, livestock grazing, and quarry landslides. Kenya has set a goal of increasing forest cover from 6.2 to 10 percent, partly by calling on community associations to help manage the forests.
We asked Jaombi Foundation Primary School Principal Jackline Mogoi for her thoughts about the role schools play in addressing deforestation. She said “The Kenyan government, which is composed of individuals just like you and me, cannot do everything for the people. We need to take the initiative now, to prevent future problems. When adults see young people taking this kind of responsibility, they feel that if young people can make a difference, then the adults can, too.“
We are proud to be contributing to that effort by planting trees in Mukuru, and providing Kenyan farmers with our organic fertilizer.