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Training to raise environmental conservation ambassadors in Kenyan schools

James Mwaniki (left) and Julius Mwanyalo (far right), the monitoring & evaluation officers of the Schools’ Green Initiative Challenge, demonstrate proper tree-planting techniques to Machakos County “Green Teachers” at Mbondoni Secondary School. [PHOTO: JAMES WANZALA/STANDARD]

A total of 198 people, including headmasters and “Green Teachers, from 33 schools in Embu, Machakos and Kitui counties have been trained on environmental conservation.

The training was conducted under the Green Initiative Challenge that aims to raise awareness and participation of school children on environmental conservation.

The challenge, now in its second phase, is implemented by KenGen Foundation, Better Globe Forestry and Bamburi Cement and has seen 100.5 acres of land planted with trees.

The trainings took place in different centres in Embu, Machakos and Kitui counties and participants were empowered with technical knowledge on good tree nursery management, planting methods and seedling nurturing practices.

Apart from gaining learning about the characteristics of the GIC tree and fruit species, the Green Teachers also learnt various nursery management practices, including weeding, seed propagation, pest and disease control, and best practices in sustainable water harvesting.

“The Green Teachers will be instrumental in implementing the school project during the third phase of GIC and guiding their students to manage tree nurseries and woodlots in their school compounds, which provides them with a renewable source of wood fuel, thus reducing pressure on surrounding vegetation and forest resources,” said Bamburi Cement’s director of corporate affairs, communications & sustainable development, Susan Maingi.

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A total of 919 schools will participate in the challenge targeting semi-arid counties of Embu, Machakos and Kitui to reach 140,000 school children by 2018.

So far, 120 schools have registered, with an additional 120 schools scheduled to be added to the competition annually.

The GIC expansion project targets the greening of a total of 460 acres, with 324,300 tree seedlings as well as 113,956 fruit seedlings (passion and pawpaw).

KenGen Foundation Trustee Mike Njeru said GIC accords the schools an opportunity to diversify their income through the sale of timber and non-timber products.

He added that that the project has also contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration, and the control soil erosion by increasing topsoil infiltration and reducing runoff.

The project is designed as a challenge to participating schools, mainly due to the dry weather conditions in the areas, with prizes awarded based on the highest survival rate of seedlings and use of innovation.

The best performing schools stand to benefit from education scholarships, infrastructural developments, educational tours, water tanks, and rainwater-harvesting and cash awards among other things.

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