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Kenyan Government Declares Holiday To Plant 100 Million Seedlings

In an effort to reach its goal of planting 15 billion trees in 10 years, the Kenyan government has declared a special holiday to encourage citizens to plant 100 million trees. 

Environment Minister Soipan Tuya stated that the holiday will allow each and every Kenyan to take ownership of the initiative.

According to the Minister,  each Kenyan is being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings, leading to the 100-million target.

About 150 million seedlings have been made available in public nurseries for the citizens to plant on designated public land.

Additionally,  the government has also encouraged Kenyans to buy at least two seedlings to plant on their own land.

According to BBC News, President William Ruto is leading the exercise in Makueni in the eastern part of the country. Cabinet ministers have been sent to other regions to lead the process alongside county governors.

The tree planting will be monitored through the Jaza Miti App, an internet app that allows individuals and organizations to record their activities, including the species, number, and date of planting.

This app will also help people plant the appropriate seedlings by matching the site with the appropriate species, according to the Environment Ministry.

Ms Tuya told local Citizen TV on Sunday night that the response had been "amazing" and there had already been two million registrations on the app by Sunday.

She however said the planting would not happen in the north-eastern region, where there have been floods.

The country is currently grappling with heavy El Niño rains that have killed dozens of people, displaced thousands and damaged infrastructure - with the northern region most affected.

Kenyans have broadly welcomed the tree-planting initiative while also noting some challenges.

Environmentalist Teresa Muthoni told the BBC that the initiative was a positive step, but that the process needed to be more organized to ensure everyone was actively involved in planting trees.

She said, "Many people have to continue with their work to put food on the table... it is coming at a time when our economy is not doing well so a lot of people are struggling financially".

She also noted that "a lot of the 150 million trees available" in public nurseries were exotic. "It is very important to plant the right trees in the right place," she said.

However,  the government has faced criticism for lifting a ban on logging while championing the tree- planting initiative. 

However, Environment Minister Tuya defended the decision, explaining that only 5% of public forests were affected and that this was necessary to meet local demand for wood and create jobs.

The minister said the initiative would help to address food insecurity and climate change, which have led to cyclical droughts and floods in the country.

She added that the tree-planting campaign will continue beyond the special holiday and that it is expected that 500 million trees will be planted by the end of the rainy season in December. 

Despite these challenges, the minister remains optimistic that the initiative will have a significant impact on the country's environment and economy. 

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