Healthy Learning school hosts high-profile national event to mark World Day to Combat Desertification
Eor Ekule Primary School, one of five Healthy Learning schools in Narok North district in Kenya, was the venue for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification celebrations marked on June 17th every year.
“Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere” was the theme for this year’s celebrations. National Environment Management Authority chair, Mr Francis Ole Kaparo led a team of officers from both the government and private sector to mark the day by planting 500 trees at the school. In Kenya, special public events are often marked by tree planting activities mostly in public places including schools.
In his key note address to the public, Mr Kaparo asked the community members to cease felling trees for charcoal burning as it leads to desertification and eventually drought and famine. Narok North district was one of the worst hit by drought experienced in Kenya in 2009. Destruction of the Mau forest, a major water tower in Kenya, and providing water for the Narok community, has made climate change a reality hence a growing emphasis for all to plant trees.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) (http://www.unccd.int/) sees the day as providing an opportunity to reinforce the message that desertification is not a fatality, that solutions exist, and that it can be effectively tackled through strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels.
According to the school head teacher Ms Mary Wanjohi, the school was selected because of their active involvement in environmental conservation activities through the Healthy Learning programme hence a good example to the rest.
Narok North district is in a semi-arid zone of Kenya, inhabited by agropastoral communities. Land degradation due to overgrazing, farming, and charcoal burning are common in the area. This calls for greater awareness on environmental conservation methods.
Officers from the Healthy Learning programme welcomed the event as it provided an opportunity for the dissemination of programme activities such as environmental conservation. Other Healthy Learning projects at the school include rain water harvesting, kitchen gardening and tree planting.