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Narok pupils lead bid to turn tide on climate change

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Pupils plant a tree. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Due to the location of the project, at Northwest Narok County, which is nestled around five conservancies and the expansive Maasai Mara reserve, one of the challenges has been losing young plants to wildlife.

A walk around Narok West tells a story of a region that has been hard hit by the effects of climate change. Locals here talk about soil erosion, deforestation, cumulative less rainfall, scarcity of grass for both livestock and wildlife, degraded lands, and severe droughts.

But at Nkoilale Primary School, you find another side of the story. The school is in pursuit to increase tree cover, conserve the environment, and enlighten learners and the community on mitigations around climate change.

Through the wildlife and environment conservation club which has a membership of 48 learners out of a population of 814 pupils, the school has planted more than 220 indigenous trees in the school compound.

Some of the trees include acacia, croton, and senna siamea that adapt well to the climatic condition of the region. The members of the club ensure that the plants are well watered and mulched when need be.

To kick start the project, Nkoilale Community Development Foundation (NCDF)— formerly Nkoilale Community Development Organisation (NCDO)—approached Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) to support them in their quest.

The project, through funding from I&M Foundation, aims to inculcate the culture of environmental conservation within children who can thereafter enlighten members of their households and influence the community. The organisation has partnered with five schools and 10 community members in their quest to plant 8,000 trees.

“We are almost getting there. We identified 10 community members that will plant 3,000 trees and made water pans for them that can hold up to 40,000 litres. We targeted five schools that would plant 500 plants each and provided them with seedlings and water tanks. So far, we have achieved 70 percent of our target,” says NCDF chief executive Nelson Kirrokor.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

Due to the location of the project, at Northwest Narok County, which is nestled around five conservancies and the expansive Maasai Mara reserve, one of the challenges has been losing young plants to wildlife.

“We have fenced around the school’s administration offices because we want to plant some whistling pine. Further, we have received some posts from I&M in partnership with KCDF through NCDF to help us in fencing another section that we want to plant croton seedlings,” says Moses Paraiywa, the school’s Headteacher and Head of Siana Conservation project, a consortium of eight schools steering matters conservation in the region.

To the learners in the school, this project has particularly been beneficial. Sophie Mereso, 12, and a grade five pupil shares that joining the wildlife and environmental conservation club has instilled in her the knowledge of how to take care of trees.

“I like taking care of trees because I read about Wangari Maathai and her conservation efforts,” she shares.

For Musa Nkoitoi, 13, and in grade six, the experience of taking care of the trees has inspired him to become an agricultural officer in the future. “I want to teach people about trees and their benefits.

Through my experience in the club, I have been exposed to various types of trees and when we are learning in class, I am able to identify the various trees,” he says.

According to the club’s patron Peter Korir, the process of taking care of the trees- watering, and mulching, has made the students more knowledgeable about trees and their benefits to the environment.

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