The world continues to get warmer at an alarming rate, putting almost every child at risk of more frequent and destructive climate hazards, such as air pollution, cyclones, disease, flooding, heat waves and even water scarcity. As these hazards continue to intensify, more children will be at risk. Thus the role of primary school pupils in the realization of the need to take care of our planet cannot be over emphasized. They are powerful change agents in environmental protection and nature sustainability. Today’s primary school pupils are tomorrow’s citizens. Thus there is need to build their capacity in appreciating their place in environment protection and making the planet earth, where they are living, a better and more habitable place.
Pupils can play a critical role in protecting the environment because they are easily teachable and adaptable. Therefore, drawing them into and nurturing within them a spirit of good stewardship for their environment can yield good dividends in the long run. It is with this background in mind that the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) chose to work with Kikapu primary School in the heart of Njoro SubCounty, in Nakuru County. The school was selected for the tree planting exercise and setting up of multi-layered outdoor gardens, to act as a model for the neighboring schools and communities. The school gardens will act as learning spaces where pupils can practice new technologies to grow sustainable, local, nutritious, and healthy foods.
The tree planting exercise was aimed at raising awareness of the importance of protection of the environment and the urgent need for behavioral change to save the planet. The project activity was implemented by the Kenya Country office, which is based at Egerton University, at Kikapu
Primary School, Njoro, Nakuru County, and was initiated in March 2023. This involved installing five multi-layered vertical gardens that seedlings of different species were also planted in the school. These were carefully selected to match the local site characteristics and climate.
The tree planting initiative is ecologically appropriate in promoting afforestation and combating climate change. It also resonates well with the government’s National Tree Growing and Restoration Initiative, which aims at planting over 15 billion trees in the next ten years.
Trees play a central role in sustaining our daily lives by contributing to access to clean water, sufficient food and fruits, and the overall wellness of the environment. The excitement of the over 400 pupils from Kikapu Primary School, as they each adopted a tree or two to nurture, was palpable. As the late renowned environmentalist Wangari Mathai said, “It is the little things that citizens do that make the difference”. The pupils learn that the environment is theirs and, thus, they will tend to do their “little” to protect and better their environment as well as improve their household food security. So far, the project has had outstanding successes, and the Kenya Country office of AICAD has embarked on its replication in other primary schools in Kenya.
Mr Joseph Mwenda is Assistant Country Director, AICAD-Kenya Country Office