Refugees in NW Uganda appreciate trees. "We survived because of them. They welcomed us." But now the trees are under pressure, needed for cooking and building huts and cleared for farming. In response, this project supports refugees and local people to protect, plant and regenerate trees. And it's working! Join ICRAF in using botany and ecology to create a model climate-smart refugee settlement with water, fertile soil, rich biodiversity, livelihoods, nutritious diets and plentiful wood fuel.
Forest, savanna and wetlands were already under pressure in NW Uganda. To this was added the pressure of one million South Sudanese refugees who began arriving in 2016. The refugees are hardworking people as are the nationals. But help is needed to support those who must build new lives, the host population, and the ecosystems they all depend upon. Woodlands supply firewood and indigenous fruit. Fields produce crops. But for how long? And will conflict over natural resources erupt?
ICRAF uses tree-based solutions to build farming systems and landscapes that meet multiple needs. Integrating trees with crops and livestock is called agroforestry and can increase soil carbon and fertility; increase the soil's capacity to hold water; improve the microclimate; reduce erosion; and bring rain. It can also provide goods such as fodder for their animals, fruit, edible leaves, oil, medicine, firewood and building poles. This project is solving problems of scarcity of fuel and more.
This project is already altering the standard refugee camp paradigm, which is that the environment can wait to be restored when the refugees go home. Today displacement lasts on average 20 years and, with loss of biodiversity and climate breakdown, the environment cannot wait. All refugee crises need to systematically put trees at the centre of the response to ensure essential services like shade and groundwater recharge and provide goods like fuel, poles and fruit. Trees confer resilience.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
The project at six months: 140,000 trees planted
Background to the project in The Guardian