News from Organic Perspectives’ Agroforestry Project – December 2012.
Organic Perspectives is happy to bring you this year’s final quarterly e-news update from our reforestation project in Kamuli and Buyende districts – Eastern Uganda. Here is a video summary of our new stories: http://youtu.be/w97BSsGBY-Q – or please read on below!
Initial Experiences from (community-led) Social Forestry
Our supporters would be interested to know that this season (June – Dec, ‘12) has been the very first where we used ‘Social Forestry’ in our project. “Social forestry refers to a group of forestry management strategies for local community development, in which the aspects of local participation in management and in benefits of tree growing are central objectives” (Source).
In practice, we set up community-led reforestation centers (nurseries) at village or parish level; assign them to trained local ‘Project Extension Groups’ (PEGs) that in turn have to cascade our agroforestry training to their neighborhoods and manage all project chores—including the giving out of saplings to other farmers. We’d like to share with you our first experiences from this.
As captured in our earlier videos from June (http://www.youtube.com/user/organicperspectives) the new approach has captivated local farmers’ participation in our project the most—from mass engagement during nursery establishment and maintenance to the planting stage.
In the last 6 months, we initiated 2 community sites; one in Kisozi (Kamuli district) and other in Kidera (Buyende district). Our PEG in Kidera provided seedlings to about 55 households, planting an estimated 35,000 trees. The group in Kisozi provided over 20,000 seedlings to about 30 households and also used some of their seed to erect a hedge along a route that leads to a shallow well—aiming to reduce erosion.
We will be initiating 4 more community sites for the New Year, so we can have six.
Observations in Community Project Implementation
1) Tree spacing:
From our field visits to individual farmers’ planting sites, we find that some farmers need hands-on help with determining spacing in given agroforestry systems.
>> What can be done about it: For the New Year, our team has planned to work hand in hand with the respective PEGs in giving out the initial saplings at the sites. In this, we will demonstrate at a few farmers’ fields/gardens on the right spacing for given species and agroforestry systems. We think it’s all about making good examples; others could emulate.
2) Dry-season maintenance
The shortage of water for sustaining transplanted seedlings when the rains don’t come proved to be the biggest difficulty in Kidera (Buyende) than Kisozi (Kamuli). Unlike other slightly-facilitated villages especially in Kamuli where a few development aid organizations have worked, our project site (Kabugudo) in Kidera has one borehole as the only water source (2km from the nursery site); serving at least 3 villages (over 300 families)!
>> What can be done about it: (Note: when our local PEG here first presented the issue to us back in August with a request that perhaps Organic Perspectives could make networks to help them install at least a second borehole nearby, our team immediately contacted one charity doing the same kind of work in a different part of Uganda, but this wasn’t successful).
The greatest challenge here is also that these people therefore have a constrained access to drinking water. As this is a region with literally no public outreach, we’d request any of our supporters here who has connections to other organizations that could be able to help—at least only this village to get a borehole or deep well! Alternatively, someone could simply be able to launch an open discussion forum (e.g. a meetup page) to build crowd support for this.
For the New Year, we will seek to equally involve school kids in our project the way we work with local farmers—with a more systematically ongoing monitoring process. While we piloted (together with Trees for the Future Uganda) a school agroforestry project at 5 schools in Kamuli in 2010, it was more or less in the form of 1- 2 day training workshops at the schools!
Presently, our social forestry project has given us the insight that we can have a more thrilling project if we similarly involve kids—including having real planning meetings (not just training workshops) with the kids e.g. on how to manage nurseries and seedlings during the dry season, or during school time and holidays. Our latest experience as in the video above shows children are better able to handle things like ‘dry season maintenance’ as well as the planting of seedlings.
Introducing ‘EcoTours & Travel Uganda’.
We are delighted to introduce to you ‘EcoTours & Travel Uganda’, a sustainability subsidiary of Organic Perspectives that’s venturing in the tourism and travel industry.
As a responsible tourism and travel services provider, is a ‘sustainability’ subsidiary that helps ‘Organic Perspectives’ raise project funds through ecotourism and travel, as well as voluntary carbon offsets for the travel community—such as through tree planting and/or fuel-swicth to alternative household energy in rural areas.
Please check this out and invite your friends who are frequent travelers to explore the site and our services!
To a detailed background, please visit our temporary* page here: http://organicuganda.wix.com/ecotours
* Please note that the permanent website for EcoTours & Travel Uganda is http://www.ecotours-uganda.org (currently under construction).
Our supporters could be happy to learn that, during this month (Dec 1 – Dec 31, 2012), you can double the impact of your giving (by 100%) by setting up a recurring donation of up to $200 to our project on GlobalGiving. Please see GlobalGiving’s recurring donations page:
You may also support us by bringing along a new donor—spreading word!
Our project’s page on GlobalGiving is: http://www.goto.gg/10752
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