Garissa Million Trees

Garissa Million Trees is a project driven by award winning Young Kenyan Environmentalist; Abdikadir Aden Hassan who works with youth from Garissa County to plant 1 million trees for a period of up to 4 years and even lesser. This project will contribute to UNEP’s Billion Tree campaign. The benefits of trees as a natural resource are countless. Garissa Million Tree project to take root and achieve the desired growth and impact. The project is located at Garissa County. This is a semi-arid area with the population being a pastoralist society. In the recent years, there have been extreme droughts that have led to the death of livestock leaving most of the community members in extreme poverty since most of them depended only on livestock for a living. There are no forests in the area and the few standing left trees are threatened by the fast growing population. They are destroyed through illegal logging to meet huge demands for fuel, wood, charcoal, and in addition to clearing of land.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The following are the overall objectives of the project.
a. To initiate and sustain a tree planting culture in the society
b. Promotion of agro-forestry within the communities
c. Promote community household tree planting- Green Garissa Villages
d. To educate pupils on tree propagation and management skills of trees
e. Encouraging the community to plant drought resistant trees that can feed their livestock especially during droughts
f. Establishment of tree nurseries in order to promote young people self-employment creation (Green jobs).
g. Strengthen the school’s environmental club
h. To assist school pupils, particularly from poor and disadvantaged families, to engage in fruit and tree growing and increase vegetable crop production.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

The following approaches were used in the campaign
a. Community training on tree nurseries establishment and management.- tree planting technologies
b. Introduction of Charcoal production technologies so as to reduce the prosopis juliflora menace
c. Community tree nurseries establishment.
d. Tree planting- Indigenous, exotic and fruit trees
e. Promotion of agro-forestry.
f. Water catchment protection and rehabilitation.
g. Strengthening of eco-clubs in schools
h. Climate change information desks
i. Public sensitizations and awareness creation, dissemination of information
j. Youth and women participation in tree planting activities
k. climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives
l. Rehabilitation of degraded lands through the green-belt & wood lot establishment approaches

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

The following are the innovations used in the project.
a. The Eco-Schools Approach
b. Women and Youth groups Approach
c. Conservation tree planting in degraded hot spots.
d. Use of ICT to update the community on the existing coverage of indigenous and exotic tree species
e. Use of appropriate modern charcoal production technology that has the project into a social enterprise.
f. Working with youth, women and persons with disabilities who are the most marginalized in the community.
g. Partnership development and working with stakeholders who are running environmental programmes. This creates a good platform for opportunities.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

a. Well established community owned tree nurseries
b. More youths trained and engaged in conservation work upto 5,000
c. 50 Tree nurseries established
d. 50 greenbelts established in 50 schools
e. Increased production of different trees species especially dry land trees.
f. Promoted farming practices based on integration of agro-forestry.
g. Well adapted climate change mitigation measures
h. Increased forest covers
i. Reduced floods
j. Increased water resources management practices.
k. Long term partnership plans established.
l. River Tana Banks rehabilitated and restored.
m. 50 environmental clubs established and trained on conservation issues
n. 1,000,000 trees planted (Dryland and fruit trees).
o. Number of young environmental club members engaging in the project and receiving tangible benefits from project supported activities.
p. Cumulative number of pupils inspired and active in relation to the project.

CHALLENGES FACED

a. Insecurity- Garissa County has over the last 4 years seen increased insecurity due to invasion of militia group such as Al-Shabab. This has slowed the project since most of the donors were much worried of their safety and their working environment.
b. Lack of political goodwill- There has been lack of individual support from the local politicians since their programmes does not support environmental programmes.
c. Wide coverage- Distances from one site to another for the implementation of the project due to its vastness. Most of the the time traveling consumes a lot of time.
d. Climate change effects and increased temperatures.

LESSONS LEARNT

a. Peace and security is a key pillar when it comes to the implementation of any development project.
b. Most of the project should be focused on promoting social entrepreneurship for sustainability and reduction on the donor dependency syndrome.
c. Patience is very important in the implementation of environmental programmes since it takes some years before the results are seen and felt.
d. Working with children, youth and women is the best approach since they can be trained, capacities built and even show results.
e. Communication and sharing of best results is a key indicator to show the direction of the project. This gives the donor and partners the potential for growth and further long term engagement.