At least 17 students-most of them currently at level 1 in environment management and conservation at University of Lay Adventists of Kigali (UNILAK) – have started an initiative to create green jobs among themselves and the community.
Created last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the body dubbed “Save Environment Initiative” is preparing to distribute about 100,000 fruit trees to poor communities that could start fruit business once the trees are grown according to Concorde Kubwimana, the organization CEO.
“Most of us pay school fees for ourselves which means we have to work hard. Each of us tried to take some of their savings obtained from different casual works they do when they are not at school and invested in the initiative. We hope that the initiative is a preparation of green jobs in the future for both students and vulnerable communities,” he said.
He said that the tree nursery plantation on land availed by the school has started to create green jobs for women and youth around the campus.
“There are two permanent employees who help us look after the tree nursery and when there is a lot of work, at least ten people get casual work where each gets a wage of Rwf2, 000 per day,” he said.
The nursery includes orange, mango and citron fruit trees.
“Some will be given to vulnerable families for free while members of the public can also buy these fruits trees. If someone needs over 1,000 seedlings, we can sell them at Rwf1, 000 per seedling but for those who need fewer seedlings, they can buy one seedling at Rwf2, 000,” he noted.
He said that once planted the trees, vulnerable families could generate income from them.
“After one and half years, one mango tree can provide income of over Rw50, 000 per month during two harvesting seasons. These could help eliminate malnutrition but also help generate income. They can plant trees in gardens which will also green the city,” he said.
He said the trees will green the school and some communities in the city.
The plastics used in raising the seedlings, he said, are also recycled in Agroplast Ltd, the company which recycles plastic waste into different materials in Kigali city.
Faida Zoubeda Uwase, a deputy co-founding member said that seven members of the body are female showing the passion of girls in environment conservation and job creation while still at school.
“If families manage to plant fruits in their home gardens that will reduce cost on expensive fruits they buy on the market. We will also set up environment clubs to help educate people,” she said.
It is also a platform to help us to put into practice what we study at university. With that as students, we want to show our impact on the community, fight mitigate climate change and create opportunities in the sector,” she added.
Contributing to stunting reduction
In a campaign to fight malnutrition especially among children, the government seeks to ensure that every household will have to plant at least three fruit trees in partnership with different stakeholders.
According to the latest Demographic and Health Survey released by National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, the percentage of stunted children under the age of five dropped from 38 per cent to 33 per cent in the last five years.
Joint efforts could reduce it from the current 33 per cent to the projected 19 per cent in 2024 which requires moving from 1.2 per cent reduction per year to 3 per cent reduction.