Auditor General queries Sh140 million tree planting campaign

Environment & Climate
By Julius Chepkwony | Feb 23, 2024
President William Ruto, First Lady Rachel Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Mama Dorcas Rigathi and other senior government officials during the National Tree Planting Day in Kiu Wetland, Makueni County on November 13, 2023. [PCS]

The Government, through the State Department for Environment and Climate Change, spent more than Sh140 million in the national tree planting campaign.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu questioned the expenditure, noting that it was unsupported.

The annual report on Ministries, Departments, and Agencies reveals that according to the Ministry’s approved 2022/2023 financial year annual work plan Sh150 million was to be utilized for national tree planting campaign in 47 counties, launch tree planting campaigns during the long and short rains, undertake monitoring and evaluation of the exercise in all counties and organise international celebrations.

“No monitoring and evaluation reports on the campaign were provided for review. In the circumstances, the propriety and occurrence of the expenditure of Sh140, 683,587 on national tree planting campaigns could not be confirmed,” stated Gathungu.

President William Ruto, in December 2022, launched the 15 billion tree planting campaign aimed at rallying Kenyans, non-governmental organisations, agencies, and corporates to rehabilitate forests.

In November 2023, the government agreed to designate a special working day for tree planting.

Ruto led the country in marking the National Tree Planting campaign in November last year at Kiu Wetland in Makueni county.

Government officials, including Cabinet Secretaries, presided over the event across the country.

Some CSs had to cover more than two counties, roving hundreds of kilometres.

A review of the trips made by some of the CSs during the tree planting indicated that Interior CS Kithure Kindiki travelled covered approximately 1,823 kilometres. He travelled to Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Marsabit counties.

Roads CS Kipchumba Murkomen covered approximately 854 kilometres. He toured Homa Bay and Mombasa counties.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi led the exercise in Tharaka Nithi and Kirinyaga counties.

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi was in Makueni and Samburu counties, while Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation CS Zacharia Njeru led tree planting in Kajiado and Kiambu counties.

National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u was in Nyandarua and Laikipia counties, Defence CS Aden Duale in Nakuru and Isiolo counties, Gender, Culture, the Arts and Heritage CS Aisha Jumwa in Kakamega and Kwale counties, Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs CS Salim Mvurya was in Tana River and Lamu counties, Tourism and Wildlife CS Alfred Mutua was in Kitui and Taita counties while Lands CS Alice Wahome was in Laikipia and Nyeri counties.

Public Service, Performance, and Delivery Management Moses Kuria was in Kisumu and Siaya counties, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu in Migori and Trans Nzoia counties, ICT CS Eliud Owalo in Nandi and Kisii counties, Labour CS Florence Bore was in Nyamira and Bomet counties, Health CS Susan Nakhumicha was in Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.

Cooperatives and Micro and Small Enterprise CS Simon Chelugui led tree planting in Uasin Gishu and Murang’a counties, Trade CS Rebecca Miano in Embu and Narok counties, and Energy CS Davis Chirchir was in Baringo and Kericho counties.

East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, and Regional Development CS Peninah Malonza was in Busia and Meru counties while Secretary to the Cabinet Mercy Wanjau and Head of Public Service and the President's Chief of Staff Felix Koskei were in Nairobi.

Civil societies had raised questions about the budget committed to the tree planting.

Linda Ugatuzi, civil society, said the drive was an avenue to waste government funds. Led by Prof Fred Ogolla they argued that the County Commissioners should have led the exercise across the country to cut costs.

However, government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura, defended the decision to use choppers then, noting that it was good that the government officials lead by example.

The audit further questioned the effectiveness of the Kenya Metreological Department to deliver on its mandate.

It revealed that the Meteorological Department’s weather stations across the country are unable to report on the sunshine conditions due to a lack of sunshine-card recorders, which are not locally available.

In addition, the Seismic Projects in Kakamega and Nakuru weather stations meant to monitor and record seismic activities were abandoned several years ago, due to a lack of funds to procure and install the relevant equipment. 

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