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Eldowas leads tree-planting fete at the expansive Kaptagat Forest

Eldowas manager Peter Biwott and his family plant a tree at the Kaptagat Forest. [Lynn Kolongei, Standard]

In a move towards mitigating climate change effects, Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (Eldowas) led various stakeholders, students, residents and corporates in a tree-planting exercise at Kaptagat Forest in Uasin Gishu County.

At the forest, where the water company intends to increase cover to 15 per cent, it planted over 200 indigenous trees.

Eldowas Managing Director Peter Biwott said yesterday the company is set to plant over one million trees on 6,000 acres of land in various forests.

“We have partnered with schools and various corporates to bring about a collaborative effort towards environment conservation.

“We are now on the initial phase of tree planting through our Linda Maji initiative and will continue with this good cause even in the coming years,” said Mr Biwott.

Mr Biwott noted that since the region is grappling with water scarcity, the tree seedlings will be watered once a week by the company.

“These forests are a source of livelihood for Western Kenya counties and we therefore want to make it a regional quest to conserve it and plant more trees,” said Mr Biwott.

Retired athlete Kipchoge Keino said trees are important and should be conserved. He said many local and international athletes train around the forest because it is a high-altitude area.

“We need to plant more trees to create a conducive environment for training for local athletes, and even those from other countries,” said Mr Keino.

Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) chair Mark Chesergon said the organisation is working with Eldowas  to ensure conservation measures are utilised.

“As soon as the rains come, we are going to plant more trees, especially in arid areas where our organisation is committed to uplifting. We also encourage planting of fruit seedlings to feed people as we conserve the environment,” said Mr Chesergon.

Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) director, Richard Cheruiyot, said everyone has a role to play in ensuring the environment is conserved.

“As a regulator, we cannot do our job if we do not have sources of water. We should join efforts to be able to make a difference towards mitigating the effects of climate change and ensuring that water towers are conserved to ensure free flow of water,” said Mr Cheruiyot.

Richard Buya, who is in charge of forest conservation, said more efforts should be made to ensure the region achieves 10 per cent forest cover.

“The most important thing is to plant the trees and ensure that they are well tended so that they can grow and provide sustainability in the years to come,” said Mr Buya.

Standard Group Head of News, Kipkoech Tanui, encouraged the residents to ensure conservation of the forest and minimise deforestation activities which could drastically affect forest cover if left unabated.

“As the community living around here, we urge you to conserve this water tower for your own benefit and for the benefit of the region at large,” said Mr Tanui.

He was accompanied by Standard Group Head of Corporate Affairs and Partnerships, Charles Kimathi, and the North Rift Head of Corporate, Judy Yego.