Greetings from Palorinya Refugee Settlement!
February marks the height of the dry season here in northern Uganda, a time where the soil is parched and farmers are beginning to think about the upcoming planting season. This year, in alignment with growing trends of climate change, dry season has been a little wonky. A bit of rain arrived in early January, a strange and unexpected arrival of that life-giving nutrient from the sky. It didn't last long of course, and the dry season quickly returned. However, that brief bit of rain in January was further validation of what refugees and farmers alike are coming to know as truth here in Uganda: that weather patterns are changing fast, making the arrival of the necessary rains to have healthy crops hard to predict. These irregular variations in rain–too much, too little, arriving and dissapearing at unexpected times–is one of the greatest indicators of climate change in the tropics.
This is why getting trees into the ground is so important. You see, strategic tree planting is arguably the best tool in the tool box that small-scale farmers and refugees with little resources have against the onslaught of climate change. To put in the simplest terms, trees help create microclimates that regulate rain patterns, which in terms guarantees healthy crops, which in turn guarantees happy and full bellies for the families that steward the land.
After three successful years of piloting our innovative agroforestry systems with refugees at the household level, we are ready to scale up. We've created a grassroots network of 275 refugees with educational expertise in tree seedling care and management, as well as basic principles in climate change adaptation. Our tree nursery is bubbling with activity, and has become a fixture of the community over the past few years. And, the 200,000 seedlings we've planted, household to household, are now turning into mature trees. Now, it's time to build out this foundation to create big change.
We have plans this year to shift from small-scale planting with households to mobilizing refugee farmer groups to plant trees by the acre. By working with our team on the ground, we've developed a strategy of a unique agroforestry system whereby hundreds of acres of staple crops can be grown alongside 1,000 trees per acre, that will be planted with the tree seedlings. Long-term, this will mean healthy soils and increased crop yields, while restoring hundreds of acreas of landscape with all the benefits that trees provide.
But to be able to have the biggest impact possible, we need your help. Every $25 you donate is another refugee farmer we can work with, to reforest the region, increase food security, and contribute to the long-term ecological integrity of northern Uganda. We have a goal of working with 2,000 refugee farmers this year. We're galvanizing grants and finding fundraising opportunities to make this dream a reality, and we want to ask you to join us in those efforts. If you can mobilize 10 of your friends to give $25 each, we will have raised $250 together. If 50 of you all do that, we will have raised $12,500: a good start to get this scaling up off the ground. In this time of COVID, realities are strange and uncertain, and having get togethers with friends seem like a distant reality. But, perhaps in the spirit of COVID, you can host a 'virtual' zoom potluck, and by saving the money from all going out to dinner together at a restaurant, that money can go to help the 120,000 refugees that call Palorinya home, who are awaiting the next planting season in hopes that they'll have enough food on their table this year.
If we've learned anything in the past year, it's that we truly are all in this together. Let's make it good.
From our dry and hot landscape to wherever you call home,
The Native Seeds Project team