Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda

by Wild Forests and Fauna
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Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Plant 50,000 Native Trees for Refugees in Uganda
Our Native Seeds team harvests Moringa stenopetala
Our Native Seeds team harvests Moringa stenopetala

Hi friends,

For those of you who already know this project, you know that it's about planting trees in refugee settlements in Uganda.  It's about bringing the multiple benefits of trees to people and landcape in a precarious situation caused by the intensification of violence in South Sudan.  Our past project reports by Project Manager Georgia Beasley have highlighted amazing stories of impact from on the ground in Palorinya.  

This time around, we want to put the trees in the spotlight.  We plant moringa.  But why moringa?  Why there?

Frank Martin states in Survival and Subsistence in the Tropics that “among the leafy vegetables, one stands out as particularly good, the horseradish tree.  The leaves are outstanding as a source of vitamin A and, when raw, vitamin C.  They are a good source of B vitamins and among the best plant sources of minerals.  The calcium content is very high for a plant.  Phosphorous is low, as it should be.  The content of iron is very good (it is reportedly prescribed for anemia in the Philippines). They are an excellent source of protein and a very low source of fat and carbohydrates.  Thus the leaves are one of the best plant foods that can be found.”

It's nothing short of a miracle – and some people call moringa "the miracle tree" – that this tree is also drought hardy, fast-growing, and tolerant of a wide variety of poor tropical soils.  

But maybe it didn't sink in fully just how nutritious moringa is. Lakshmipriya Gopalakrishnan and co. in Food Science and Human Wellness, put it in more captivating terms:

"Moringa is rich in nutrition owing to the presence of a variety of essential phytochemicals present in its leaves, pods and seeds. In fact, moringa is said to provide 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 25 times more iron than spinach. The fact that moringa is easily cultivable makes it a sustainable remedy for malnutrition."

It's worth saying that this is a singular, unique nutritional profile for any plant.  Its green fruit pods and its flowers are also nutritious and edible.  And of course the root provides a horseradish-like condiment.  

If we're sold on moringa by now, it's also worthwhile to note that our work doesn't put all the eggs in one basket. Other species as well as moringa enter into our planting program.  For this report, we will limit ourselves to a description to one of them, a tree known as Mosisi.  

The tree known to botanists as Maesopsis eminii shares at least one thing with moringa.  They are both incredibly fast growing.  But unlike the corky, low-density vegetative tissue that makes up moringa's trunk, mosisi – or musizi, depending on who's asking – is made up of hardwood that eventually becomes quite fine in quality.  The hardness is significant for other reasons too – fallen branches of this species make perfectly adequate firewood, an important commodity in Palorinya.  Firewood is particularly important in the sense that it often comes from the forests and savannahs that surround the refugee settlements, putting additional pressure on the landscape's trees. 

Between moringa and mosisi we have a kind of cooking technological package – nutrition and fuel maximized by the ideal species for the local climate and soil.  It's perhaps some minor source of positivity within what is clearly a deeply challenging situation.  For Wild Forests and Fauna it is an honor to participate in some kind of solution, even as we ask other institutions to do their part in creating strategies for the ongoing improvement of refugee settlements. 

To date we have planted hundreds of thousands of trees in refugee settlements in northern Uganda with only tens of thousands in funding.  The efficiency of implementation of this solution is one of its many virtues.  We look forward to planting many trees more.  Thank you for your support.   

One of our moringa nurseries in northern Uganda
One of our moringa nurseries in northern Uganda
A fast-growing Moringa oleifera tree
A fast-growing Moringa oleifera tree
Taking moringa out to Palorinya
Taking moringa out to Palorinya
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Refugee participant receiving seedlings
Refugee participant receiving seedlings

The month of May invites the beginning of the rainy season here in northern Uganda, which also means that planting season is nigh. For us, that means we’re busy in the tree nursery, filling pots with soil and sowing seeds. Up in Palorinya, home to over 100,000 South Sudanese refugees, we’ve had many women from the adjacent host community spending days on end sowing seeds of useful tree species to give to their refugee neighbors. 

So far, we have over 83,000 seedlings in the nursery, which we will begin distributing to refugees in the coming weeks. As last year was our first major implementation of our Increased Nutrition and Sustainable Firewood program in Palorinya, the refugee households that call Palorinya home are already aware about the program, and are eager to join it. 

Last year, we reached nearly 20,000 refugee households with useful tree species to supplement their UN-sponsored food rations and provide sustainable sources of firewood. This year, we’ll be reaching all of the households that we weren’t able to reach in the year past. What that means is that by the end of the year, we will have reached every refugee that calls Palorinya home with our initiative that aims to build sustainability into the refugee service delivery program. 

What does this look like on the ground? It starts with the production of the seedlings. We pay women from the host community to run the tree nursery, effectively providing tangible job opportunities to the local communities that opened their idle land to the refugees. From there, our Project Management team mobilizes the 196 members of the environmental protection committee (EPC) that is spread across the refugee settlement. Refugees themselves, these EPC members receive important training on climate change adaptation, tree seedling care and management, and valuable training skills. We then provide stipends to these EPCs to go into their neighborhoods, household to household, to transmit this knowledge and prepare their refugee neighbors with the skills they need to care for seedlings that will have profound affects on not just their livelihoods, but the landscape that they are learning to depend on. 

From there, the seedlings leave the nursery and head to the communities. The EPCs mobilize their neighborhoods at meeting points, and the seedlings are distributed. Over the next several weeks, planting campaigns will be initiated, and the EPCs, alongside our Management Team, will follow up with every refugee households to make sure seedlings were planted and that the recipients feel empowered to care for the seedlings. 

The rains will come and let the seedlings grow, and before we know it, these communities will be harvesting from their seedlings to support their families. 

It sounds simple, and yet, it is deeply profound. A low-cost, high-impact system, this work is providing an example of how we can transform the structure of refugee service delivery to be more sustainable and rooted in empowerment, rather than just hand outs. 

 

In the coming months, as planting begin and follow up initiates, will keep you up to date about the number of refugees reached, and how this program is impacting their daily lives. 

Planting seedlings in the refugee settlement
Planting seedlings in the refugee settlement
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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
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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
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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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Wild Forests and Fauna

Location: Carnation, WA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @WildForestFauna
Project Leader:
Corrie Reynoso
Carnation, WA United States
$3,116 raised of $15,000 goal
 
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