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Ruto directs KDF to take lead role in helping Kenya achieve tree planting goal

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Kenya aims to achieve the goal of planting 15 billion trees by 2032 in efforts to mitigate the harsh impact of climate change in the country.

President William Ruto has assigned the Kenya Defence Forces the lead role in helping the country achieve the goal of planting 15 billion trees within a decade, in efforts to mitigate the harsh impact of climate change in the country.

The President issued the directive during the pass-out parade for thousands of new soldiers at the Recruits Training School in Eldoret on Wednesday.

"I have an assignment for you, I want to ask the KDF to lead the way to provide the mechanism and work with the Ministry of Environment so that they can be the lead champions in the exercise of planting the 15 billion trees in the next 10 years. I know and I am confident that the KDF are up to that task," he said.

He called on the military to, besides their key mandate, engage actively in tree planting terming climate change as one of the biggest threats to the country's development and prosperity.

The national initiative launched in December 2022 seeks to fulfil the target by the year 2032.

The military has for years been engaged in multiple tree planting activities mainly through the Environmental Soldier Programme that was established in 2003 to improve tree cover within military camps and enhance the country's environmental sustainability goals.

A total of 204,400 tree seedlings including cypress, eucalyptus and whistling pine have been planted by the recruits' training school alone during this rainy season

The pass-out parade saw thousands of young men and women join the military after six months of rigorous basic military training.

"Your cohort stands out both in size and diversity, I am very proud of the Kenya Defence Forces that in the history of Kenya, we have the highest number of servicewomen in this cohort. In our midst, graduating today are more than 1,000 service women joining our illustrious military career. This underscores the government and KDF's dedication to gender equity," President Ruto said.

President William Ruto during the Kenya Defence Forces recruits pass-out parade, Eldoret on May 15, 2024. (Photo: PCS)

The graduates will join the three KDF services, marking the start of a noble career in the military.

The president called on the new soldiers to remember that millions of Kenyans will be counting on their courage, integrity, skill, strength, discipline and commitment to protect the country against external aggression.

General Ogolla, soldiers honoured

At the same time, he took a moment to remember and honour the legacy of the late Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Omondi Ogolla and the nine soldiers he perished alongside in a military chopper crash last month.

"We continue to mourn the lives of our departed soldiers including the late Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Omondi Ogolla, their death left a void in our ranks and hearts as members of the Kenya Defence Force community, government and citizens of Kenya," said the President who then called for a moment of silence in honour of the departed General.

"General Ogolla's wise leadership, magnificent example, integrity and dedication exemplified the best of Kenyan professionalism representing the KDF at its finest and serving as a beacon for all of us. His legacy will continue to inspire many."

At the same time, the President also noted the key role played by the military in disaster response in the country noting their involvement in rescue efforts during the recent floods in various parts of the country in relocating and resettling affected families and observed their record success in peacekeeping operations.

"I celebrate KDF for their iconic peacekeeping role which compliments our nation's well-established credentials in the region and enhances our capacity to face an ever-increasing delicate, complex and challenging regional, diplomatic and global security environment," the President said adding that the professionalism of KDF in missions abroad and development projects at home earns the country the trust and esteem it holds at the global stage.

In honour of that, the President said his government will offer continuous unwavering support to the welfare of soldiers and their capabilities to meet the demands of current and emerging challenges with confidence

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