NAIROBI — Lesein Mutunkei, a Kenyan youth, loves playing football and one thing that makes him passionate about the game is the part of scoring goals.
The 16-year-old said it gives him satisfaction to score goals because that makes him fulfill his love for nature and the environment. He has given himself a target that whenever he scores a goal, he plants 11 trees.
“Initially, I was planting one tree for every goal scored, then I increased this to 10 and now to 11 to represent each of the football players,” Mutunkei said recently.
To actualize his love for conservation, he founded an organization called Trees 4 Goals, through which he has planted more than 1,000 trees in over two years.
“My initiative of planting trees is helping fight climate change. I developed interest in environmental conservation when I was young and decided to do something,” he said.
Mutunkei is among youths in Kenya and across Africa who are taking small but formidable steps in fighting climate change.
“My focus is mainly in rural areas where the impact of climate change is greater. This is where farming is taking place. When it does not rain, rural people suffer most. There are floods and mudslides. Planting trees help to mitigate such effects,” he said, adding that it is time African governments and societies start supporting young people to tackle climate change from the grassroots.
Omar Ibrahim, a Kenyan climate change activist said initially for many youths, their focus was on education and employment but they are now taking interest in climate change as rains become scarce.
“We realized that it is easier for people to take care of fruit trees than other trees. We are thus giving people in Kibra, the biggest informal settlement in Nairobi, fruit trees to plant to help mitigate climate change and environment pollution,” said Ibrahim.
He noted that youths have also taken up garbage collection to enhance environmental conservation. Dorcas Lung’ashi, a climate activist in Nairobi, said the youth have no choice but to take action to mitigate the risks of climate change.
“Many youths initially didn’t understand the role to play to mitigate the climate risks. But they now know they should take care of the environment and they are doing it,” she said.