It’s hard to believe it is already June. The time has really flown by and we have some terrific updates to share about Wild Forests and Fauna’s work in Uganda.
Our recent partnership with One Tree Planted (OTP) has enabled our team to move beyond simple reforestation in the Palorinya refugee settlement. This was critical as our many years of work in the area helped us better understand the primary causes of deforestation there: 94% of trees were cut to meet firewood and charcoal needs. At this rate, and without intervention, Palorinya will have no remaining tree cover by 2023. This would leave the landscape at high risk for desertification and soil infertility, which would jeopardize its ability to support human communities in the very near future.
With this alarming statistic in mind, WildFF realized that sustainability also must be incorporated into the way refugee camps are designed. As a result, we have created and implemented an iterative approach that focuses on four areas:
1) Agroforestry systems that help increase crop production and food security for refugees and host communities alongside planting fast-growing and coppicing native tree species for renewable firewood production
2) Briquette production training with women’s groups as a source of income, using agricultural waste to create eco-alternatives to damaging and extractive charcoal production
3) Partnering with traditional charcoal producers to restore landscape and training them in more efficient, sustainable methodologies of charcoal production that leave a smaller carbon footprint
4) Provide fuel-efficient stoves that reduce fuel consumption by 50%
We have seen some significant success with this approach!
Due to the popularity of our agroforestry intervention, we were able to surpass our targets for local beneficiaries engaged (90) and acres planted (30). We also established two large central tree nurseries (with 300,000 seedling capacity) and have planted 179,628 tree seedlings to date, which means we are 83.9% towards our target of 214,000.
We will use the extra nursery capacity to continue seedling production, which will allow us to replace any trees that don’t survive.
One challenge that we faced was unusually high prices for seeds (e.g. simsim, cowpea, sorghum, bambara nut, ground nut), which meant that we initially procured fewer kilograms of crop seeds than originally planned (242kg against a target of 360kg). However, due to your generous donations via GlobalGiving, we were able to close this gap. Thank you!!
WildFF has trained 15 women in briquette production and financial literacy so far and are on track to hit our goal of 30 women trained by the end of this month. We will be planting 1,500 trees with these women once they have all been trained.
We have discovered that the awareness of briquettes as a viable alternative to firewood is low, which has resulted in smaller voluntary participation in our training than expected. But we have identified a niche in reaching out to local businesses such as bakeries, restaurants, and chapati makers. As these businesses use larger volumes of charcoal than households, the benefits of using briquettes are tangible and worth investing in.
This approach has had positive results. In fact, we have engaged Komboni Missionaries, a local bakery, who have seen the benefits of the briquettes. This means we will be able to create a sustainable income stream for the women we have trained in briquette production, as they will now supply Komboni going forward!
Atimaku Joyce, an instructor at Komboni Missionaries bakery, shared how briquettes the women have produced have helped its business: “We use them in baking, for cakes and cookies. It is so useful, as it continues to keep the oven hot for more than 3 hours (unlike charcoal) for continued baking. Therefore, we found it more advantageous than using charcoal in the baking industry, despite being cheap. We request the organization to continue production of the briquettes and make promotions for it to be used by many, we will be so grateful. Thank you!”
Traditional charcoal production
We are training and working with 60 local beneficiaries in traditional charcoal production, focused on preparing their first acre of land for planting with charcoal production trees.
Our partnership with 3 landowners in charcoal carbonized areas in host communities bordering refugee settlement continues as well. To date, we have planted 13 acres with 6,250 Cassia seedlings to reforest the areas, reaching 43% of our goal of 30 acres and 13,500 trees. The planting of the other 17 acres is underway and should be completed soon.
Fuel efficient cookstoves
We have hit our target of providing 2,000 households (10,000 individuals) with fuel efficient dual Lorena cookstoves and training them on how to use and maintain them. In addition, we have reached our goal of 50 trained cookstove artisans.
Going forward we have connected the cookstove artisans with interested households that we could not provide with a cookstove. This enables the artisans to become self-employed, generating an income stream that will continue to grow with increased demand from households. While word of mouth has been powerful in generating increased demand, we are also raising awareness of the service provided by the trained cookstove artisans and public gatherings and local celebrations.
Lagua Dominica, a refugee in Palorinya settlement, shared how much of an impact the cookstove has made: “The stove has made me happy because it saves a lot of firewood, avoids risks of fire accidents, and we spend less time for collection of firewood so I can do other things.”
The progress we have made is really encouraging and your generous support has helped make a difference!
We look forward to sharing another update soon.
The WildFF team
Atimaku Joyce, Komboni Missionaries instructor
Lagua Dominica, a refugee in Palorinya settlement