Sep 7, 2018

Moringa, the gift of miracles

Children at a makeshift school in Palorinya
Children at a makeshift school in Palorinya

The past year has been witness to a whole new program within our Native Seeds Project. As hundreds of thousands of families from South Sudan began pouring into Northern Uganda we began to ask ourselves: what can we do? It’s a humanitarian crisis so vast that sometimes having an impact seems out of reach, and yet simultaneously, having a crisis of that degree in your project’s proverbial backyard propels you to think of the tangible, concrete ways you might be able to contribute.

 

So, we started a campaign. We understood that two of the most pressing needs for many of these refugees is adequate food, and access to the fuel they need to be able to cook that food. News reports talked about food ration shortage, which was again and again confirmed by the individuals waiting in line for their food rations: most of them only eat one meal per day, and are lacking the spectrum of vitamins and minerals that are needed to keep our human bodies healthy. 

 

That’s where moringa comes in. We piloted our “Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Firewood” program in Palorinya Refugee Settlement last October. Through that campaign, we established a working relationship with the local government, trained 35 refugee volunteer “EPCs” (Environmental Protection Committee), and planted 1,700 moringa tree seedlings with refugee households. With its success, and some valuable lessons we learned along the way, we were ready to scale.

And now, that’s where you come in. Thanks to your contribution during our End of Year Campaign, along with grant from LUSH Cosmetic’s Charity Pot, we will be able to reach 100,000 refugees this year with moringa fruit seedlings for improved nutrition, and fast-growing timber species that can be used for sustainable sources of firewood. 

With your support, we have to date:

  • Built a tree nursery with the capacity to produce 100,000 seedlings in Palorinya Refugee Settlement
  • Are providing 3 full-time jobs to the local community, working as nursery attendants
  • Have trained 196 refugee volunteers in the ‘Environmental Protection Committee’ on tree seedling care and management, uses of trees, and data collection
  • Are providing temporary jobs to the 196 refugees working as the Environmental Protection Committee, creating important, eco-friendly income to individuals working to rebuild their lives
  • Produced 96,000 seedlings to be distributed to 19,300 refugee households (about 100,000 refugees)

Over the next few months, we will:

  • Continue trainings with refugee Environmental Protection Committee
  • Produce an additional 54,000 seedlings to be planted within Palorinya Refugee Settlement
  • Monitor seedling survival rate and provide important follow-up with participating refugees to ensure our model is successful and meaningful in the lives of those we are working with

All of this is happening because of your support. The vivacity in which the refugees have embraced this project is inspiring–for them, this project represents a turning point in their lives as refugees, as it is a moment where they can begin providing for themselves by supplementing their food rations with trees that they are caring for and growing themselves. 

We look forward to sharing with you more about the success of this project, and opportunities to continue to grow it. 

 

Tree planting distribution with refugees
Tree planting distribution with refugees
Jul 3, 2018

Project Report

Regreening Landscapes, One Farmer at a Time

Hey all,


It’s been a few months since our last project report. You might recall that in our most recent report, we were busy producing thousands of native tree seedlings in our tree nurseries in Northern Uganda. Since then, a lot has happened. Let me tell you about it. 


In April, the rains arrived to Uganda, which means our field staff was busy visiting villages, conducting Climate Change Resiliency Trainings with small-scale farmers. The arrival of the rains in April also meant that it was time to get our native tree seedlings out to those that need them most: small-scale farmers fighting climate change. Over the course of the months of April and May, our team conducted 18 trainings in 9 villages in Bungatira Sub-county, a small area in Northern Uganda a little outside of Gulu. In these 9 villages, we are working closely with 400 farmers to train them in the importance of native trees to protect their soil fertility and how these native trees can protect them and their families in the face of growing climate uncertainty. 


Over the course of these trainings, our dedicated team on the ground distributed 5,000 seedlings to the farmers with whom we are working. These seedlings are as varied as the croplands the farmers we work with tend to: from fast-growing timber species like African Mahogany to fruit trees like avocado and jackfruit to trees with potent medicinal properties like prunus africana, we are diversifying landscapes in ways that will provide tangible benefits to the people planting them. 


And this is our ultimate goal. How can we better landscapes while also bettering the lives of the people that tend to those landscapes? Through planting useful tree species with small-scale farmers, we’re able to make soils healthier and landscapes greener, while also providing families with a greater variety of fruits, medicines, and increased access to important things like firewood. 


But that’s not all. Aside from the 400 farmers we are working with directly, our nursery workers are busy producing seedlings for other organizations in the region that are doing similarly important work with farmers. In May, we got an additional 13,000 seedlings into the hands of 800+ farmers through formal partnerships with like-minded organizations. By using the networks and capacity with like-minded folks, we’re able to scale our impact and reach more farmers, more families, and more landscapes. 


As we ring in the beginning of July, marking our half-way point of 2018, we continue with the same momentum. Rains take a pause in June in Uganda, but return in July. Our team just did their first distribution of the second rainy season three days ago, getting 999 seedlings out to thirty new farmers in Lagwiny village. For the next few weeks, working in rhythm with the rainy season, our team will be getting more seedlings to farmers across northern Uganda. Their ability to conduct this work is in thanks to people like you–people who believe in the importance of forests, the necessity to combat climate change, and the hope that it is still possible to make a change. So, thank you. I hope you continue to support this work, and know that you are making a difference because of it.



--

With gratitude,

Georgia Beasley

Project Manager & Community Outreach Coordinator, Native Seeds Project, Uganda, WildFF | www.wildff.org
LEAF International Global Ambassador, LEAF Community Arts | www.theLEAF.org
Jun 12, 2018

Getting seedlings to those that need them most

A refugee EPC checking on a moringa seedling
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
Fatima* and her child with a moringa seedling
Our coordinator talking with a beneficiary
Our coordinator talking with a beneficiary
EPCs after a tree care training
EPCs after a tree care training
Prepping pots for seedlings in the new nursery
Prepping pots for seedlings in the new nursery

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