Campaign to green Africa and give women and youth incomes kicks off in Kenya

An Aerial view of Maasai Mau Forest. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A new ambitious campaign to increase Africa’s tree cover using youth and women has been launched.

The Regreening Africa Project, which is being implemented by ChildFund and Dow Chemical East Africa is being piloted in Kenya before spreading across the continent.

The project aims to counter the impacts of climate change and improve the resilience and adaptability of youth, women and children.

The project comes at the right time even as the government led by President William Ruto in December 2022 launched a 15 billion tree planting project by 2032 to reduce greenhouse emissions, reverse deforestation and fight climate change.

The organisations will support youth and women to establish tree nurseries as income-generating enterprises and climate change mitigation.  

Speaking at the launch of the Regreening Africa Project in Nairobi on Wednesday, Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya called for collaboration by all stakeholders to combat climate change.

"As stipulated in my Ministry’s Strategic Plan (2023 – 2027) and the National Climate Change Action Plan, the urgency of climate action demands a collaborative effort from stakeholders, governments, communities, the private sector, and NGOs alike,” said Ms Tuya in a speech read on her behalf by Forestry Principal Secretary Gitonga Mugambi.

She added: “Let this be a shared journey where each contribution, big or small, becomes a vital step towards a greener, more resilient nation.”

The youth will be trained to operate commercial fruit and agroforestry tree nurseries to be sold to schools, individuals, and communities, supporting reforestation, enhanced environmental conservation and green communities.

The fruit trees include avocados, oranges, mangoes and moringa.

ChildFund Kenya Country Director Alice Anukur said the goal is to ensure that by December 2024, some 600 youth and 300 women will be engaged in climate-smart green enterprises, thus promoting reforestation, and resulting in increased incomes.

“Over 130,000 trees including grafted avocados, mangoes, oranges, macadamia, and moringa will be planted and 600 children will have access to nutritious and fortified moringa food to improve their nutrition,” she said.

Over the last two decades, climate change has exacerbated resource-based conflicts and communal violence mainly in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) in Kenya.

In September 2021, the government declared the drought affecting most parts of the country a national disaster.

Mr Leonard Kareko, managing director, Dow Eastern Africa, which is supporting the project, said climate change poses a significant risk to the social economic development of communities in Kenya and Africa as a whole.

“By implementing well-crafted solutions, forging cross-sector partnerships, and investing in innovation and infrastructure, we can collectively confront and overcome the challenges posed by climate change and create resilience in our community," said Kareko.

According to the partners, Regreening Africa will pave the way for decent employment while simultaneously building climate resilience championed by the vibrant youth and women population.