On April 11, 2012, over 300 students from the Aga Khan High School in Nairobi teamed up with students from Githanga Primary School and Githanga Mixed Secondary Schools in central Kenya to plant over 1,500 trees. The event, at the start of the country’s rainy season, is one of many taking place under the joint initiative of the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment (PSAKFE) and Lions Clubs International (LCI) to plant 1.5 million trees in Kenya by July 2012.
The staff and students of the Githanga Schools welcomed the Aga Khan High School Students with kind words and spoke about the joy of sharing. The students shared tree seedlings, song and dance, personal stories, technical know-how, and school experiences. The event brought together urban and rural students working for a common cause. Many students said their favorite part of the day was socializing with new friends while doing something good for the environment.
“Personally, I love the environment,” said Sharon Nashilu, a Form 4 Student at Aga Khan High School, “so this activity is satisfying.”
For some students of the Aga Khan High School, this was their first experience planting trees. Students from the Githanga Schools have been engaged in tree planting at their school for several years. The trees have been used for conservation, aesthetic purposes, and firewood.
Firewood is a prized resource at the Githanga Schools, so certain species were chosen for that purpose. Gravillea, for instance, grows quickly and people commonly use its branches for firewood. The students also planted Cordia and Jacaranda seedlings.
Many other planting events are scheduled for April throughout Kenya. The Aga Khan Foundation’s Coastal Rural Support Programme of Kenya (CRSP-K) supports communities in rural and resource-poor areas in the Coast Province. Students from the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa and the Aga Khan Primary and High Schools in Mombasa will team up with students from the CRSP-K- supported schools to plant several thousand trees later this month.
Kenya has experienced severe deforestation in recent decades. Fortunately many actors, including various governmental and non-governmental institutions, are realizing the important link between the environment and human well-being. The tree-planting events are part of a larger movement aimed at reversing the negative impacts of deforestation for a cleaner and more prosperous Kenya.
Rozina Kanchwala is the Research Assistant with the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment, based in Nairobi, Kenya.