Feb 5, 2019

Building Sustainability into Refugee Settlements

A participant of our program in front of her house
A participant of our program in front of her house

Thanks to supporters like you, we have made some major waves in Palorinya Refugee Settlement this year. Let me give you a little bit of a back story:

 

Early in 2018, we received a grant from LUSH Charity Pot to scale our original pilot program that aimed to get much-needed nutrition through the form of edible leaves to South Sudanese refugees in Palorinya. 

 

This early pilot transformed into a system we now call the “Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Firewood” program. This system was born out of two pressing needs: the recognition that UN-provided food rations are not enough to ensure that families are eating three meals a day, and the understanding that with over 100,000 new residents that call Palorinya home, forest resources are being severely depleted due to firewood harvesting. 

Our solution? Let’s plant trees with refugees, for refugees. By narrowing our focus to these two needs–improved nutrition and sustainable firewood–we began producing thousands of tree seedlings, focusing on species that either provide edible leaves and fruit or are fast-growing timber species that can be planted to replace those that have been cut down for firewood, and later used by refugees for sustainable sources of firewood. 

Thanks from the generous support from LUSH Charity Pot, as well as individuals like yourself, our impact in Palorinya in 2018 has been overwhelming. Here are some of our year-end highlights:

  • We reached 20,000 refugee and host community households in and around Palorinya Refugee Settlement, impacting approximately 100,000 individuals
  • 120,000 seedlings produced and planted with participating households
  • 267 acres of land reforested 

These are massive numbers, and this never would have been possible without your help. However, sometimes we lose the impact at the individual-level when we only focus on the big numbers. So, let’s meet a participant in this program: Say hello to Grace (name changed for her privacy), who arrived to Palorinya a little over a year ago with her daughter and four grandchildren. She’s planted 7 seedlings on her small 30x30 meter plot of land, of which her 3 moringas she is already harvesting from and including the leaves in the evening meal to get adequate vitamins and minerals into the diets of her grandchildren. The UN provides food rations of maize flour, beans and cooking oil, a diet that keeps people alive, but one that lacks the nutrition for children to grow up healthy and pregnant women to adequately support their bodies as they grow little humans. Finding sustainable alternatives to this nutrition gap is critical as these communities begin to cultivate their own food and establish their new lives in the settlements. 

In 2019, we are planning to continue this important work, and after our success of 2018, there are several organizations, both in Uganda and in the US and Europe, who want to see us spread the work. We are excited to say that not only has this system functioned in Palorinya, but it is easily scalable to the many South Sudanese refugee settlements spread across Uganda. We hope to do our part to help make these refugee settlements more sustainable, and help create thriving communities. 

As we move forward we will be merging this Global Giving page with our main Global Giving page, which you can find here: 

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/reforest-native-trees-empower-women-healers-uganda/

Please stay on this journey with us! We can’t wait to share more about the important work that you are a part of. 

Grace, who has planted 7 seedlings with us
Grace, who has planted 7 seedlings with us
Grace with one of her seedlings
Grace with one of her seedlings
A refugee participant with a moringa seedling
A refugee participant with a moringa seedling
Kids in the camp receiving seedlings
Kids in the camp receiving seedlings
Dec 31, 2018

Peter, a Climate Change Adaptation Warrior

Peter, with a jackfruit tree he planted in 2018
Peter, with a jackfruit tree he planted in 2018

Meet Peter. Peter is from a village about a 45 minute drive from Gulu, the largest town in Northern Uganda. Generation after generation, his family has cultivated a wide array of crops–from millet and maize to peanuts and sesame–to provide for the family and live an abundant, albeit hard, life. Peter’s family depends on regular rain patterns to be able to support their livelihood; without a stable climate and dependable rains, Peter doesn’t know when to plant his seeds that will grow into healthy food crops. 

Peter’s parents speak candidly about this fact–how for much of their lives rain was consistent and so too were the harvests of their many, diverse food crops. These days though, his parents speak of erratic weather–long droughts, flash floods, and general uncertainty. “Without rain, we have no food,” they comment. This statement is simple, yes, but its impact profound. 

We are doing something about this. Through your help, the Native Seeds Project works directly with farmers to train them on climate change adaptation: educating farmers on the causes and onset of climate change, and perhaps more importantly, what they can do directly to mitigate its effect, and in turn, ensure that their food harvests are abundant enough to provide for their families. 

How do we do this? Well, simply put, we plant trees. More complexly put, we work directly with farmers to survey their land and their needs to identify agroforestry systems that will restore soil hydrology, diversify farming systems, and reduce disaster risk in response to increasingly-volatile weather patterns. 

This year, Peter planted fifty new trees on his family’s land, and attended three day-long trainings that equipped him with the knowledge he needs to confront the environmental issues facing him, his family, and his wider community. The result? a farmer who no longer feels helpless in the face of climate change, but rather a farmer who understands what is happening with the environment, and has a new toolkit on what he can do to work with his environment to ensure stability and success of his crops, his livelihood, and his community’s well-being. 

This year, the Native Seeds Project trained 409 farmers just like Peter in climate change adaptation, and planted over 20,000 tree seedlings with them. Our team visits Peter and our other partner farmers on a regular basis throughout the year, ensuring the cementation of the knowledge they received during trainings, and ensuring the survival of the tree seedlings they’ve planted. This ongoing followup has formed a large network of climate change adaptation warriors: a vast community of farmers throughout Northern Uganda joining forces, joining hands, and joining a movement to create landscapes and communities more resilient. 

As 2018 comes to a close, know that you are a part of Peter’s movement: without your support, farmers like Peter are unable to get the training and resources they need to combat climate change. So, from the bottom of Peter’s heart, and ours, thank you for being a Climate Change Adaptation Warrior. We hope you will continue to be warrior, alongside us. 

 

From Northern Uganda to you,

Georgia

Native Seeds Project team training farmers
Native Seeds Project team training farmers
A farmer receiving seedlings for planting
A farmer receiving seedlings for planting
Oct 1, 2018

Seedling Distribution Update

Planting season is coming to an end, and our team is proud as it reflects on this year’s tree outreach program.

Through September, our Native Seeds Project team distributed over 33,000 seedlings to participating farmers in Gulu District: 20,150 through our extensive farmer outreach in Bungatira (with climate change resilience trainings) and 11,000 to farmers through partner organizations.

In addition, one Wise Women member planted 1.5 acres with 1,200 seedlings and another member received an 700 seedlings for her land. 15 women also participated in farmer trainings in Bungatira giving them the opportunity to make additional income through seedling outreach as Tree Planting Pioneers.

The second rainy season had scarce rains, which meant that distribution was slower than expected. Total seedlings produced in 2018 at our nurseries currently stands at 50,000. 

With rains extremely erratic this year, more and more farmers are beginning to recognize the power of this project and its benefits for their land. In nearby Laroo division, the local government has expressed interest in contracting the team to plant seedlings after the dry season (March 2019). Our team is hoping to double our impact in 2019, producing and distributing 100,000 seedlings.

In the Palorinya Refugee Settlement, seedling distribution is still ongoing and we are currently on track to have distributed to nearly 20,000 refugee households in our 2018 outreach with the Moyo District Forest Office. The final figures will be available later this year as well as a proposal to scale refugee seedling distribution to the rest of the Palorinya Camp.

Over the next 18 months, our team is excited to increase its presence in Northern Uganda while transitioning the nursery to a financially sustainable social enterprise. Thank you for your support to date and hope you will continue to join us in this project!

 
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