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First lady Rachel Ruto urges Kenyans to switch to cleaner fuels

First Lady Rachel Ruto has appealed to Kenyans to adopt cleaner sources of energy to reduce health burden in the communities.

Ms Ruto said it was time to switch from firewood and charcoal to cleaner fuels to reduce deforestation and exposure to household pollution which results in the deaths of an estimated 23,000 Kenyans annually.

“The smoke impacts negatively on the health at household level. . . for the sake of children and families let us consider using safer and cleaner methods of cooking like gas and briquettes,” said the first lady.

She revealed that through her ‘Mama Doing Good’, initiative, she targets to plant 500 million trees to complement the national government’s ambitious efforts of planting 15 billion trees by 2032 and increase the forest cover to 30 per cent from the current 12 per cent.

“My appeal is to communities to plant and nurture trees and take part in conservation efforts. This fight will help us in combating deforestation, mitigate effects of climate change and protect our biodiversity and natural habitat that enriches our lives,” explained the first lady.

She made the remarks on Friday at Kebior, Kaptagat on the border between Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties when she presided over the launch of growing of 1 million trees to support conservation of the Eldoret-Iten water fund water catchment areas.

Ms Ruto regretted that due to climate change, the country had witnessed the worst drought that resulted in food shortages and loss of livestock.

The one million tree planting campaign seeks to conserve the Cherangany, Elgeyo Hills forests, and the Northern Mau – critical water towers that supply water to the cities of Eldoret, Iten and surrounding communities.

The initiative strives to provide local communities with mature tree seedlings and technical expertise by planting over 200,000 grafted fruit trees, 50,000 macadamia nut trees, 100,000 giant bamboo trees, 200,000 fodder trees, and over 400,000 agroforestry and indigenous trees.

She was accompanied by Uasin Gishu county deputy governor John Barorot and his Elgeyo Marakwet county counterpart Grace Cheserek, Moi University Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kosgey, Elgeyo Marakwet county MP Caroline Ngelechei among other officials.

Ademola Ajagbe, The Nature Conservancy Regional Managing Director said his organization partnered with the First Lady to accelerate environmental conservation to safeguard the critical food systems and biodiversity.

The country’s low forest cover is largely attributed to expansive smallholder farming activities or food production systems that experts say account for nearly 80 per cent of deforestation; 70 per cent of land biodiversity loss; 50 percent of freshwater biodiversity loss, and 25 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally.

“Climate change and a wide range of human activities are impacting habitats at unprecedented and unsustainable rates. We need to mobilize community action, broaden partnerships, harness conservation investments, and influence public policy to put nature centre stage”, said Ademola.

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