THE GREEN INITIATIVE CHALLENGE (GIC)

The GIC is a programme designed to encourage and enable schools to participate in environmental activities by developing woodlots within their compounds for multiple benefits.These not only include the services and products the trees offer, but importantly a body of knowledge built up in the minds of hundreds of thousands of school children.
Its slogan is “Panda Miti, HifadhiMazingira” (Plant trees, protect the environment).


Started small in 2013, it is a partnership between the KenGen Foundation, Bamburi Cement Ltd (owned by LafargeHolcim) and the BGF Foundation, that has grown into a ten-years programme targeting 1,000 schools in the Seven Forks area (Machakos, Embu and Kitui counties). As explained elsewhere in this website (see “Seven Forks Farmers Programme”), this is a semi-arid zone, where living conditions are harsh and tree planting & growing is difficult. The initiative is supported by the Ministry of Education, Kenya Forest Service, the National Environment Authority (NEMA), and the Governments of the respective counties. The GIC is a main pillar in the CSR activities of KenGen Ltd (Kenya Electricity Generating Company), who contributes the lion’s share to the GIC budget. Each year, a hundred new schools are selected to participate in the programme, for a duration of 2 years. Special attention is put to cooperation between the so-called “Green Teacher”, the school’s Principal and the Board of Management. This is crucial because the whole school has to participate, and experience has shown that this is the formula for success. Through the BoM, composed of parents, the entire surrounding community gets involved, which is crucial in controlling livestock access to school compounds, not always well fenced. Now in its 5th year (or phase), five hundred schools have benefited from the programme, and a total of 150,000 trees have been planted of which about 60-65% survived.
The species are Melia volkensii, Terminalia brownii and Senna siamea, all well adapted to the area. Fruit species include passion fruit and mango.

This is an award winning programme, thanks to a combination of capacity building and organizational excellence. A team of three Monitoring & Evaluation officers, paid and trained by BGF, is full-time employed to do the follow-up after the school heads have participated in a two-day-long training session. BGF ensures correct technical practices and supplies the melia seedlings (see photo of the technical manual, written by BGF).



Importantly, the GIC takes place in the same area where our Farmers Programme is operational, and the M&E officers refer to it during the training sessions and school visits. Children come into touch with the GIC, parents are also involved, and the step towards signing a contract for commercial tree planting with BGF becomes a small one. Every year there is a big ceremony far out in the countryside, where the next phase of the programme is launched, and simultaneously, the winning schools of the previous phase are announced. The awards include scholarships, school trips and infrastructure improvements in schools (see poster). School children and staff are bussed in from the participating schools, in the three counties, and amidst well prepared entertainment by the hosting school, speeches are made and the winners are announced. It’s the event of the year.

THE GREEN INITIATIVE CHALLENGE (GIC) GALLERY