, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 1 – The government has embarked on a five-year programme to increase forest cover to 10 percent as President Uhuru Kenyatta said other organisations had been roped in to plant 50 million trees in a year to mark Kenya’s 50 years of independence.
He was speaking at State House gardens during the Kenya Scouts Association Patron’s day where he was installed as the 4th Patron.
“The Scouts have already planted 15 million trees since 2007 and I appreciate this noble initiative, which will contribute immensely towards improvement of the environment and achievement of the national forest cover target of 10 percent,” he said.
The President directed the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources to work with the Kenya Scouts Association and other conservationists in expanding forest cover in the country.
He assured that the Government would double the Scouts’ budgetary allocation in the next financial year to boost its activities.
The Ministry of Devolution, the President added, will work with the Scouts on ways of accessing the Uwezo Fund.
“Scouting complements the education system and the government has invested heavily in the education sector by providing free primary education and subsidising secondary education,” President Kenyatta said.
The President said the enterprise and future of the country lies in the youth, given that the large percentage of the population was under 34 years.
“The youth shall most certainly be the drivers of the recently launched second leg of the National Vision 2030, by which we intend to become a modern, industrialised middle-income country able to provide a high quality of life to all our citizens” President Kenyatta said.
He added that the march to progress in the country will be powered by a generation with the right values and skills as provided by scouting.
“The fate of our nation in the years to come and, I believe, the future of the world itself, depends on the kind of citizens our young people turn out to be. The building of strong character is therefore essential to enabling youth cope with various social challenges facing them today,” the President said.
President Kenyatta commended the Association for its interventions in the nation’s collective war against HIV/AIDS and the use of illicit drugs.
“Both epidemics have hit the youth more than any other group in society and have cut short the lives of many of our young people in their prime,” he added.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru said the youth agenda in the country has been entrenched in government programmes. The purpose of the scouting movement is to mould children to be responsible citizens ready to make moral and ethical choices, she said.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi stressed the need for every child in the country to become a scout to benefit from the movement’s teachings.