The World Environmental Day 2017 (WED) was celebrated worldwide on the 5th of June with the theme being “Connecting people to Nature”. Individuals and environmental conservation organizations around the world marked the day with a variety of activities that were aimed at preserving the environment.

Nature Kenya and Vivo Energy Kenya also took part in the celebrations albeit 5 days later but the message on the ground was the same. That is connecting people with nature and conserving the environment. The celebrations were held in Kadunguni Primary School, located in Marafa, Kilifi County.

4 years ago, a partnership between Vivo Energy Kenya and Nature Kenya commenced in Marafa. During this journey, 98,000 tree seedlings have so far been planted, nurtured and are on their way to being full grown trees. The initiative is aimed at increasing the forest cover of Dakatcha woodlands. Dakatcha Woodlands is an endangered habitat  and it is home to the Clarke’s weaver bird.

Dakatcha woodlands main threat is tree logging for charcoal production by the local community. Sadly charcoal selling is a major source of income for those who live near the forest. Nature Kenya with the support of Vivo Energy Kenya has been working with these communities to sensitize them on the importance of conserving the woodland. The group monitors the birds, creates environmental awareness and also supports community livelihoods.

Environmental conservation happens to be one of Vivo Energy Kenya’s Corporate Investment pillars together with education. This led to the choice of Kadunguni Primary school to become the point of focus for Vivo Energy Kenya and Nature Kenya in 2016. At the time, the school had very few trees despite having a big field . The school was also not fenced so any efforts to plant and nurture trees were always in vain due to livestock feeding on the seedlings. The two organizations decided to increase the tree cover in the school, and by doing so, the flora and fauna of the school compound would change for the better. World Environment Day 2016 was therefore celebrated at the school and 1000 seedlings planted. After the trees were planted, Nature Kenya constructed a fence around the school and also installed a gate.

Apart from planting trees, Vivo Energy Kenya also decided to construct classrooms together with a staff room for teachers at the primary school. This was due to the fact that their classrooms were dilapidated and not fit for the future environmental conservation ambassadors. Construction commenced in March 2017 with the first classroom which can hold about 30 students being officially opened on 10th June 2017. The classroom was also furnished with proper desks, a welcome change given that the old classrooms did not have desks. A water tank also was installed for use in harvesting rain water which will come in handy for the pupils and the teachers.

The classrooms before

The classrooms after

As Vivo Energy Kenya and Nature Kenya marked WED 2017 at Kadunguni Primary school for the second year running, it was evident that the school’s environment was changing for the better. The school’s field had moved from being dusty and hot to a lush and inviting compound. This year 1000 more trees were planted and the pupils tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the seedlings grow to be big beautiful trees.

In 2016, Vivo Energy Kenya went to Kadunguni to plant trees but in the course of this noble venture they also started a journey that has now incorporated environmental conservation and education transformation for the pupils. As the late Noble Laureate Wangari Maathai used to say, her little thing was planting trees. The folks at Vivo Energy Kenya have emulated her and have intertwined it with ensuring that those for whom they plant the trees also learn in a conducive environment.