A refugee EPC checking on a moringa seedling
A lot has happened since our last update to you all, and I am happy to share with you all the progress we havemade together. You might remember in our last report that we were getting ready to scale our pilot project in providing much-needed tree seedlings to refugees in Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda. In case you've forgotten, I'll give you a little recap: Northern Uganda is currently host to over a million refugees from South Sudan. The UN has yet to meet their fundraising targets to provide these communities with adequate food, water, shelter, and other basic needs. We began talking to some of the people working with these refugee communities, and began brainstorming ourselves how we could contribute to positive change, all while promoting our own mission of protecting and restoring forests.
The answer came to us in an instant: let's plant a variety of tree seedlings aimed at providing adequate nutrition and sustainable sources of firewood with the refugees that call Palorinya home. Since our pilot in late 2017, we secured funding to build a tree nursery in partnership with the local government's District Forest Office (DFO) that has the capacity to produce 150,000 seedlings in one season (there are two planting seasons in the year, which brings us to a total of 300,000 seedlings per year).
We broke ground on the project in April, and in little over a month, have constructed a tree nursery, installed a water catchment system, and have filled over 96,000 pots with seeds of important and useful tree species. As we speak, 96,000 seedlings are ready for disbursement to 100,000 refugees.
Now, of course, a lot more goes into this project than simply raising seedlings. Our partners at the DFO have mobilized 194 individuals from the refugee communities that act as EPCs, or Environmental Protection Committee. Last week, we began trainings with these 194 individuals, discussing with them tree seedling planting, care and management, data collection, and the uses of the different species of trees we are distributing. Each of these EPCs are assigned 100 households in their 'neighborhoods,' and will be responsible for distributing seedlings, imparting their knowledge on how to care for those seedlings, and will be conducting follow up to ensure the longevity of the seedlings. Distribution begins next week! Which means those 96,000 seedlings sitting in the nursery will soon be in the hands of those that need them most: South Sudanese refugees working daily to rebuild their lives.
Not only are we providing sustainable sources of nutrition that can supplement refugees' food rations and creating more sustainable sources of firewood that will replenish forest resources that are being lost, this project also allows us to boost the local economy by providing small, but important, job creation within the refugee settlement. The tree nursery itself employs three full-time nursery attendants, and all 196 refugee EPCs receive regular stipends for the work they conduct with their assigned households. In a place where job opportunities are few and far between, our impact is not only found in increased nutrition and the protection of existing trees, but also lifting communities up by empowering individuals within those communities. For us, this kind of holistic approach is necessary in all that we do.
As you scroll down below, you will see photos of the tree nursery, the seedlings that have been grown, some of the EPCs and nursery staff that we are providing job creation for, and some of the refugees with their moringa plants that we planted last October.
We appreciate your continued support in this project. Please, if you feel so called, share this with your friends and family, and help us continue to provide sustainable solutions to those that need it most. Together, we can make a positive impact on our world.
Fatima* and her child with a moringa seedling
Our coordinator talking with a beneficiary
EPCs after a tree care training
Prepping pots for seedlings in the new nursery