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Credit lending financial institution transforms Kitui people’s livelihoods by advancing loans, tree planting

A credit lending financial institution formed in 1992 has embarked on an ambitious activity to transform and enhance people’s livelihoods in Kitui County by giving small-scale loans to farmers and tree planting.

Rockland Credit Credit Services Limited director, Henry Kiema, Kitui South Eastern University (Seku) senior lecturer Carol Hunja, Rockland’s officials, Ndanu Mwanzia and Faith Kimanzi, during distribution of 2,000 tree seedlings to local farmers at the Kitui’s Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) offices on November 25, 2022. The seedlings were donated by the Rockland Credit Services Limited. MWINGI TIMES|Paul Mutua

The Rockland Credit Services Limited, an owned micro-finance institution, which works with more than 30 government ministries, has a national-wide network of well-trained loan sales agents who are supported by a competent management team and a board of directors passionate about community social responsibility.

The organisation’s director, Henry Kiema, says his institution aims at transforming lives by further extending its need to enhance livelihoods through tree planting.

Kiema says hundreds of tree seedlings have been planted in close to 400 households in Kitui Central, Kitui Rural and Kitui West constituencies. He said Kenya Forest Service and KEFRI have trained 35 chairpersons of various community farmers groups on how to plant and care for the trees.

“It is on this basis that we are being called upon to plant more trees.  Indeed, Rockland Credit Services Limited in line with its efforts to make a difference in Kitui County, has organised tree planting events to join hands not only with the National Government but also the global community to create a clean environment for us and for future generations,” Kiema said.

A South Eastern Kenya University (Seku), senior lecturer and director research, innovation and commercialisation, Carol Hunja, said Kitui is clustered among areas with high poverty levels of approximately 50 per cent and food insecurity due to insufficient rainfall where farmers have relentlessly grappled with the challenges year in, year out with little or no harvests. 

Dr Hunja appreciates the role played by Rockland Credit especially in advancing tree-planting activities through private and public partnership in the county.

The lecturer singled out Kiema for his strong desire to work with the local communities to improve their livelihoods at grassroots level.

“I wish to cite four Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which Rockland Credit is working to achieve namely; zero hunger, no poverty, gender equality and climate action.  In their efforts, the facility identified the need for higher women representation in its credit lending facilities. This has indeed been achieved by the number of women-led groups represented in this audience,” Hunja said.

She further said, through financial lending to various group and chama activities, poverty and hunger levels have lowered, adding that a call to climate action by Rockland Credit is demonstrated to-date in tree-planting events.

The lecturer then posed a question, "Why should we plant trees?" She said President William Ruto, has rolled out an environmental conservation effort of planting five billion trees in five years and endeavors to increase Kenya’s forest cover to 10 per cent by 2030.

Hunja said the initiative was in line with achieving the UN global forest cover targets 2030 to increase the global forest cover by 3 per cent and mitigate the effects of climate change. 

The world is experiencing changing climatic patterns signaled by prolonged sunny spells and low rainfall leading to drought and subsequently low food supplies, a threat to food security. 

The lecturer said the climate change is due to human activities such as tree felling, burning of fossil fuels e.g. coal, petroleum, natural gas that have led to an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and to rising temperatures (global warming). The need to plant trees is essential because they act as ‘carbon feeders’, widely known as carbon sinks. 

Trees take in carbon dioxide, store it and in the process, release oxygen in the environment –basically they are ‘environmental cleaners.’

She said Kitui’s forest cover stood at 7 per cent in 2017 with 4 per cent improvement to date. She added that the improvement indicates the county’s need to increase its tree planting activities.

Hunja said the university’s administration was honored to be a part of the tree-planting initiative with environmental organisations, which aligns with its motto – ‘Arid to Green’. 

“Seku endeavors to work with local agencies and organisations including the County Government of Kitui to increase the forest cover in the expansive county and subsequently participate in environmental conservation efforts,” Hunja said.

A scientist at Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) Kitui office, Bernard Kigwa, trains the farmers on how to make Kitui ‘green’.

Kigwa says Kefri is working tirelessly to provide seedlings to facilitate the tree growing initiative. 


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