William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto led the national tree-planting campaign.

Kenyans undertook a major tree-planting campaign on Friday to mourn victims of recent flooding that left around 230 people dead and at least 200,000 others homeless.

President William Ruto set an ambitious target of planting 200 million trees to mark the national day of mourning and to also ignite action for the protection of the environment.

This is after he blamed climate change for the recent heavy downpour that was worsened by a cyclone that made landfall on Saturday in neighbouring Tanzania.

Ruto led the campaign by planting trees near the capital, Nairobi.

Officials, including cabinet minister and senior civil servants, led the campaign across the country by planting tree saplings to reforest areas previously encroached by human activity.

There is no indication if the president's target was met by Friday evening.

Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto led the nationwide campaign in Kiambicho forest in Mùrang'a County. He said the campaign will continue for the next six months.

“Climate change is a reality we live with every day. This is why we stopped all other business today to plant trees,” Ruto said.

“We must look for a solution to climate change and the solution is planting and growing trees.”

Kenya Defence Forces said soldiers observed the holiday by planting over 10,000 tree seedlings at a barracks in the capital, Nairobi.

Soldiers joined the campaign by planting trees at a garrison in the capital, Nairobi.

The government has previously held mass tree-planting campaigns to increase awareness on boosting Kenya's dwindling forest cover. But actual numbers of trees planted have never been provided.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki on Friday said climate change will be categorised among other national security threats including terrorism.

"We consider climate change and its devastating effects as a national security threat. We must reclaim our environment by growing enough trees for ecological sustainability, he said while leading the tree-planting campaign in Marsabit county, in northern Kenya.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki plants a tree seedling in Marsabit.

He added: “In one month, the country has lost 258 people to floods, almost the total number of people killed in all terrorism attacks that have occurred in the country.”

The US Bureau of African Affairs applauded Ruto for declaring a tree planting holiday to honour the flooding victims and announced $1m in new funding for flooding assistance.

The government previously announced a plan to increase forest cover to 30 % by 2032 to mitigate against climate change.

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TRT Afrika