In 2012 alone, KDF has planted over 1.5 million trees and awarded Total Eco-Challenge Gold Awards for the care they take for the environment.
Environmental Soldier Programme is a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) initiative that’s geared towards care and preservation of environment by the soldiers in the field.
Military operations – weapon tests and firing, digging of fire-trenches for protection from enemy direct fire and using of vegetation as camouflage for cover and concealment from enemy direct observation – wherever are undertaken, have affected the environment.
Even though there are designated Military Training Areas (MTAs) on land, sea and air, population growth and urbanization is proving a challenge for the military.
In the recent past, the nomadic and pastoral populace, led by their MPs and other leaders, have demonstrated against the use of their land as MTA by the KDF citing deaths occasioned by Unexploded Ordinances (UXOs) left behind after training and exercises, death of their animals after falling into handakis (foxholes) not fully filled and cutting down of trees by the soldiers for use as overhead cover on the handakis.on growth and urbanization is proving a challenge for the military.
Though an irksome task, KDF has endeavoured to clear the areas they train in of all UXOs, blinds (bombs that fail to detonate after being fired), pyrotechnics and cartridges. It is weary searching for blinds fired ten kilometres from the fire base. Chances are they would miss them.
Instead of blaming the military all through, awareness needs to be created amongst the locals to avoid going near and or taking UXOs and blinds they come across. Many victims have been reported to have taken the bombs and start playing with them (children) or marveling at what they have found like Xi the bushman of Gods Must be Crazy.
Apart from ensuring that they don’t leave UXOs and blind bombs behind, the soldiers fill the handakis well as natural as practically possible and they don’t cut trees anyhow. Moreover, they ensure proper disposal of waste, especially their ready-to-eat packed food wrappings.
The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) has vast MTAs in Nanyuki, Laikipia and Isiolo and it ensures that after training, all pyrotechnics and cartridges are collected. The soldiers move around with waste collection bags where they put all food wrapping waste and they don’t cut trees or twigs for camouflage, they use of artificial camouflage cream and hessian covers.
In conjunction with the civil population, KDF has started a tree planting project, the sole purpose of Environmental Soldier Programme. Since the programme was started, KDF has planted over five million trees in the arid and semi-arid areas of Lodwar, Lokichogio, Turkana, Pokot and North Eastern Province. The Corps of Engineers’ Water Drilling Squadron (WDS) drills water in the area which is used to tend to the trees and ultimately use by the locals.
In peacetime locations, KDF has responded promptly to fires that attack Lake Nakuru national park annually, Mau Forest and other forests.
Albeit military operations being hazardous to the environment, and obviously will not stop, the soldiers have taken it as duty and responsibility to care and preserve the environment wherever they go.
Copyright © 2013