Tree Planting Call to Action: Why Eldoret City Marathon Champions Climate Action
A report by the United States Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in 2002 captured the difficult task that is long-term response to climate change by likening such response to “running a marathon, in which the efforts in the next decade are analogous to the first few miles” of a marathon. Close to twenty years later, the world appears to have either sprinted so fast in the first few miles that it run out of gas and quit the race or it is running so slowly that it is yet to complete the marathon. The bottom line in both cases is that climate change is still a major global concern.
Climate change is an issue that affects every community in the world. It is a phenomenon that is subject to discussions at all levels of society, from top-level politics, to local churches, and through events. One such event is the Eldoret City Marathon. As an organizer of a major marathon, we obviously demand that only clean athletes should participate in our competitions but beyond running, we also support climate action and healthy communities. That is why our marathon theme is “climate action”.
The founders and organizers of the Eldoret City Marathon were well aware of the impact that climate change has on societies, particularly in developing countries where heavy dependency on farming as an income-generating activity means that weather patterns can be the sole determinant of whether one lives a life of prosperity or poverty. The founders felt that significant planning and action associated with climate change was not being done as the issue was not among the main political agenda of the day due to lack of sufficient public concern surrounding the topic. With this in mind, the organizers of the Eldoret City Marathon decided to take practical steps to facilitate discussions about climate change by adopting “climate action” as the theme of the marathon. The Eldoret City Marathon champions climate action in several practical ways:
- Every edition of the Eldoret City Marathon is preceded by a tree planting campaign in collaboration with our sponsors and partners, including the Kenya Seed Company and the Kenya Forest Service, who provide us with the tree seedlings. The target is to plant at least 1 million seedlings before every edition of the marathon.
- The Eldoret City Marathon organizers in collaboration with the County Government of Uasin Gishu engage in an environment cleaning exercise before every edition of the marathon.
- The Eldoret City Marathon champions a clean marathon by having a strict policy against doping and cheating.
- We champion for climate action in all our press releases, advertisements, and public engagements. We also utilize roadshows to raise awareness about climate action as we encourage people to participate in the marathon.
By using these practical ways to champion for climate change, the Eldoret City marathon hopes to influence practical and urgent action by the relevant authorities, including government and non-governmental organizations. As our networks continue to grow gradually, we hope to reach an even greater audience with our message of climate action.
At the moment, the Eldoret City Marathon brings together various stakeholders that have a direct interest in climate action in the North Rift region. These stakeholders include: the county governments of Uasin Gishu, Nandi, and Elgeyo Marakwet; the Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company Limited (ELDOWAS), which is the sole water provider in Uasin Gishu County; and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), which is the managing authority of Kaptagat Forest, which is the main source of water in the North Rift region.
Residents of Uasin Gishu County can attest to the regular rationing of piped water by ELDOWAS. This action is usually enforced by irregular rains that cause rivers to dry up. Irregular weather patterns have a direct association with the widespread deforestation in the region and country in general. Thus, urgent climate action is required. Benson Kinyili, the Kenya Forest Service Head of Conservancy in the North Rift region, has expressed a plan by KFS to plant 10 million trees in Kaptagat Forest, which is the main source of water in the region. Similarly, the Eldoret City Marathon seeks to leverage its influence to breathe new life into Kaptagat Forest and the North Rift region in general by championing climate action.
Unlike in 2018, the second edition of the Eldoret City Marathon in 2019 was not preceded by mass tree planting exercises. This is because of a prolonged drought that made it prudent for us to wait until the onset of rainy season to avoid wasting seedlings, which might have been the case if we had planted them during the dry season. Now that the rains are here, the Eldoret City Marathon will, in the next one week, embark on a campaign of planting trees in Kaptagat Forest, along Sosiani River, in schools, health centers, and churches as well as in private farms among other areas. We are very excited as we embark on this campaign even as we underline the message that local action and partnerships are the way to go if climate action is to be effective. We, therefore, extend an open invitation to anybody who might be willing to partner with us in this noble campaign.