Is the Kenyan tree planting holiday a condition for IMF/World Bank loans?
On November 7, 2023, the Kenya Kwanza government announced the introduction of the National Tree Growing Day public holiday in the country.
“The exercise is part of Kenya’s Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Programme- towards the growing of 15 billion trees. There will be a designated National venue for the tree planting presided over by His Excellency President William Ruto…and forty-seven County venues, presided over by Cabinet Secretaries and Governors, where all Kenyan citizens and the general public shall be expected to participate,” read the Gazette Notice issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration, Mr Kithure Kindiki.
However, it has now emerged that as a condition for Kenya to obtain billions in loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World, Bank, it must prove that it is tackling climate change in its national planning and investment framework.
According to a prior Business Daily report, Kenya was expected to make its first withdrawal of Sh80.2 billion from the $551.4 million Resilience and Sustainability Facility on November 7, 2023. The facility was secured by the International Monetary Fund.
As a condition of this withdrawal, Kenya had to prove it was tackling climate change in its national planning and investment framework. Instituting a National Tree Growing Day national holiday is one of the mass measures the President undertook under this deal.
The Kenya Kwanza government intends to have 15 billion trees planted by 2032 to realize forest restoration and tackle the effects of climate change. According to prior Nairobi News reports, President Ruto tasked the Kenya Forestry Research Institute to set up 18 tree seedling stations across the country to realize the government’s ambition.
“The planet is now at climatic risk. We have cyclones, floods, heatwaves, and drought and as a result, we have lost livestock and recurrent food shortages. We want to involve all departments including the Kenya Defense Forces, Prisons, Police, National Youth Service, and Kenya Wildlife Services among others in this ambitious tree planting program,” said President Ruto in July 2023.
To support this government ambition as well as heed President Ruto’s call on all Kenyans to plant 100 trees each either on their private land or any place that they can find, First Lady Rachel Ruto adopted 494 acres of Kakamega forest for reforestation and protection of the environment.
Before this national holiday announcement, another measure that President Ruto took was to sign the Climate Change (Amendment) Bill 2023 on September 1, 2023, which will see Kenya mobilize resources to strengthen its capacity for climate resilience initiatives.