Pastoralists in Lkuroto, Samburu Central, unloading tree seedlings from a truck. Photo credit: Dennis Avokoywa.
Rose Saniwa, the agroforestry lead in northern Kenya, says the decision to distribute tree seedlings at this specific time aligns perfectly with the weather forecast, which predicts El Niño rains from October 2023 to January 2024.
"This strategic timing is expected to be a game-changer for Samburu County, which, like several other counties in northern Kenya, grapples with arid and semi-arid conditions, primarily marked by a severe water scarcity issue.
“The predicted heavy rains will be crucial for nurturing these newly planted trees," she said.
Before receiving the tree seedlings, the pastoral community was taken through intense training on how to plant and care for the trees to ensure a high survival rate.
"Most of the pastoralists lack knowledge about tree planting and care. In addition to distributing the trees, we trained them on essential aspects of tree care, including weeding, mulching, and pruning," Lomitu Lenguris, an agroforestry officer in Samburu County, said.
Lomitu Lengurusi demonstrating to pastoralists in Ng'ari, Samburu Central, how to plant a tree seedling. Photo credit: Dennis Avokoywa.
This commendable initiative has garnered praise from the pastoralists who received the trees. They expressed their gratitude to the organization and promised to nurture and protect its vital assets.
"We thank PlantVillage for giving us these trees; it is a good initiative to reclaim our pastoral land. Trees break the wind and form sheds for animals," said Darion Ekaram, a pastoralist in Lkuroto, Samburu Central.
"The trees will also aid in providing fodder for our livestock; branches of the trees can be trimmed and fed to the animals during drought times," added Mary Lekmen, another pastoralist.
Pastoralists in Ng'ari, Samburu Central, pose for a photo after receiving tree seedlings and training on planting. Photo credit: Dennis Avokoywa.
Nonetheless, the most significant challenge in tree nurturing arises from livestock invading and consuming the trees at their tender age.
"Some pastoralists are reluctant to fence their newly planted trees, leaving them vulnerable to goats and sheep that feed on them. We strongly urge the residents to take proactive steps to protect their trees," said Saniwa.
PlantVillage has already distributed 5,700 tree seedlings in the first phase to residents of Kisima, Ngari, and Lkuroto in Samburu Central Sub- County.
A photo showing a section of PlantVillage's tree nursery in Maralal, Samburu County More than 20,000 tree seedlings are housed in this nursery. Photo credit: Lomitu Lenguris, PlantVillage's agroforestry officer in Samburu County.
The organization operates a nursery in Maralal, Samburu County, dedicated to propagating five resilient species: Grevillea robusta, Acacia tortilis, Moringa oleifera, Leucaena leucocephala and Acacia nilotica.
These tree species were carefully chosen for their ability to thrive in the region's challenging climatic conditions.
"Currently, our nursery houses 20,000 tree seedlings, and we are in the process of pricking up more trees for the second phase of distribution come April next year,” said Lomitu.
You can gain valuable insight into PlantVillage's impactful work in Samburu County, addressing climate change issues, by watching this captivating documentary youtu.be/vAuF4qG1w4s?si=NT4sCu8t6fEUp5Ki.