Author: PATRICIA KOMBO
Patricia Kombo of PaTree Initiative
I’m a 4th-year communications student from Moi and the founder PaTree Initiative an idea born out of passion and the zeal to help Kenya attain 10% forest cover by incorporating school pupils in tree planting activities and bringing nature to the classroom through reviving the dead 4k clubs in schools.
I remember growing up along the slopes of Mbooni hills, agriculture then, was profitable. Students my age were engaged in farming activities and, we had 4k clubs – which today are inactive.
In 2019, I was privileged to tour Lodwar in the company of a few friends during the famine and drought that had hit the area. Women and children suffered the consequences of changing weather. It was painful to watch. It reminded me of the possible detrimental effects of illegal logging and encroachment into forests in my community. I was concerned, so I started PaTree.
Through PaTree, I endeavor to reach out to everyone – more so the young – and, in my small way, teach them on the need to conserve the environment. I would have fulfilled my mission if all learning institutions – primary and secondary level – had environmental clubs/4k clubs.
I’m glad my work is gaining momentum. This year (2020), I was recognized by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification as a land hero for preserving land. Educating the masses is the most powerful tool for change, and a child without environmental education is like a bird without feathers. So far, I have visited eight schools, donated and planted trees, and carried out ecological awareness. We have since then planted about 5,000 tree seedlings.
Farmers in my village are embracing conservation and are now planting fruit trees in their compounds. It is rewarding.
Since I started my conservation journey, I have seen a change in students’ and communities’ attitudes towards nature. I have witnessed an improvement in sustainable land use and consumption. There is a significant change in what was perceived as a ‘norm.’ It is clear; people lack the correct information regarding conservation.
Conservation needs patience, for there are lots of challenges. Being a student juggling between PaTree and academics has been a challenge in itself. The cost of establishing and maintaining a nursery setting and meeting the logistics is high for someone in my position.
Also, discrimination based on gender and age is a challenge I encounter when trying to amplify my voice to influence decisions relating to sustainable development. Dealing with climate deniers is worse. Such struggles fuel my energy and power to keep fighting relentlessly.
Call to action
I urge authorities and individuals to accord environmental conservation the credence it deserves. Environmental education should be incorporated into the school curriculum.
Without attitudes change and an educated population, we will continue to face climate crisis- the action starts with acquiring related knowledge.
NOTE: it is that one tree you plant that holds the future of the forests; failing to act for nature is failing humanity.