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African faith groups get funds for environmental conservation

A UK-based environmental conservation group said it is offering financial support to African faith groups to help them develop environmental conservation plans.

"This is simply seed money to help consultations to take place. We know for faith communities to introduce new dimensions to their work, is not easy," said Martin Palmer, general secretary of the Alliance for Religions and Conservation (ARC), based in Bath, England. He was attending a conference in Nairobi on religion and the environment, organized by ARC and hosted by the All Africa Conference of Churches.

He said ARC will give a total of 2,000 British pounds (provided by the World Bank and the government of Norway) to 20 Christian and Muslim groups. "We expect the church or the mosque to put in an equal amount of money … They already have capacity on the ground … all we are asking them to do is to ensure … that the environment is taken seriously and considered carefully," Mr Palmer said.

Religious leaders at the 29-30 March meeting welcomed the funds, saying they will boost existing efforts that include restoring habitats, planting trees, reducing energy use, farming sustainably and training young people. "The money will enable identifying local solutions that are cheap, affordable and sustainable," said Rev Eustace Kahuthia of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).

The demand for trees is growing, according to Imman Ibbah Kasozi, Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly national vice-chairman. He said he hopes the funds will help his organization, which works with 4 schools and 20 communities, expand its activities. "Our target is to grow one million trees. We can increase the schools to 10 and communities to 100," he said.

A Nigerian Roman Catholic nun, Agatha Donald, said she hopes to sensitise school youth groups and women’s organisations on environmental care.

(c) Ecumenical News International