| Aug 20, 2020
Update during COVID-19
Trees Staff Visits Farmer w/ Social Distancing
Trees for the Future’s field projects faced a challenge during the COVID-19 crisis, but our organization and staff responded immediately to ensure the safety of our staff and farmers. After our recent planting, farmers have been taking care of their young trees while continuing to grow vegetables during this difficult time.
Tanzania had very few closures to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but we decided to still be very careful to keep our field staff safe. On April 6th, TREES halted all in-person training in Tanzania (and all other countries), while also cutting all non-essential spending, but our projects never stopped running. We provided our field staff and technicians with additional phone and wifi credits so that they were able to work remotely, and provide our farmers with guidance during the Pandemic.
Farmers in our program received virtual support from technicians and lead farmers. Rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are among the most vulnerable populations when it comes to health and economic crises. Farmers enrolled in the Forest Garden Program have the ability to grow a diverse array of nutritional produce for themselves and their families. The program has also provided them with the ability to save money for times like these.
TREES staff quickly produced short in-country videos in local languages to describe key processes, such as seed preparation, soil preparation, nursery care, etc. These videos were sent to Lead Farmers via WhatsApp to use as references to guide other farmers in small groups.
TREES developed a new ‘Remote Communications Recording’ tool within our existing monitoring and evaluation reporting system to document all calls, concerns, and communications with farmers. This helps us track and aggregate information, provide advice on key concerns expressed across project areas, and develop target responses to needs in real time. Farmers can easily report issues to staff and staff can provide prompt feedback.
Fortunately, TREES was able to restart a limited kinds of in-field work in June in Tanzania, while still remaining very cautious of changing conditions. Technicians are beginning to travel again to meet with farmers to sign MOUs, but will continue checking in with existing farmers using remote telephone communications.
More information on TREES COVID-19 response can be found here: https://trees.org/covid-19-response/
Furthermore, TREES created a fund to ensure the safety of our farmers in this time, which will help us provide PPE for farmers, along with community health education, tools, and training in the field. Our goal has been to support farmers through this crisis while ensuring their safety, distance training, and food and economic security during this challenging time.