Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar

by Zahana
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Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Seedballs made by students dry in the sun
Seedballs made by students dry in the sun

In our last report we introduced the seed ball method of reforestation and learning how to make our very own seedballs.

Seedballs are widely advocated, especially in Kenya and surrounding countries, as a great alternative for rapidly reforestation. Our teacher Mahandry had good results in his part of the country and got everybody excited with this community activity as well. (Mahandry works with the Seneca Park Zoo Society in Rochester, New York on reforestation in the south of the country)

We decided we will literally field test the idea. If it works, we may get many more trees faster while we continue planting seedlings grown by our gardeners.

For the month of August and September, schools are closed in Madagascar for the one and only break in the school year. In the southern hemisphere it is a winter break.

We thought we could combine fun with educational opportunities. So our teachers invited our students back to make seed balls. Not only did this give the children something to do, but they were rewarded with a lunch at school. And the teachers got paid, since there were working for us (this is not common.)

The result: 2750 seed balls.

Our seed balls are rather large. More the size of a tennis ball then the more common ping-pong ball size. With the rainy season coming soon, our school children are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to throw seed balls all over the landscape.

We currently have about a dozen seed balls per student, but we hope they will demand to make many more, once they see how fun it is to throw reforestation all over the landscape.

Ihanta and Markus

PS: The photo are from the days of the site visits by the team monitoring the progress.

17-20 Augist 2021 508 Seedballs reported
17-20 Augist 2021 508 Seedballs reported
24 to 28 of August 756 seedballs reported
24 to 28 of August 756 seedballs reported
1 to 4 sept 524 Seedballs reported
1 to 4 sept 524 Seedballs reported
14 September 2021 226 Seedballs reported
14 September 2021 226 Seedballs reported
Seedballs drying in the sunshine
Seedballs drying in the sunshine

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The Seed Ball and improved cookstove workshop team
The Seed Ball and improved cookstove workshop team

For more than ten years Zahana has continued its reforestation activities to preserve the environment and actively participate in the prevention of climate change.

When it comes to one of our core activities like reforestation, Zahana never stops looking for all possible means to achieve it. Apart from the usual methods of our Zahana gardeners growing seedlings and giving them away for free to interested villagers and organizing community-wide tree planting events such as international women’s day, we are always on the lookout for new ideas and approaches.

In 2019 we improved and increased our nurseries many times, supervised by the local technical improved cookstove team. In April this year we learned about a new method of planting trees that will be introduced thanks to the establishment of a collaboration with technicians operating in the field of reforestation in Madagascar.

This new method, called Seed-ball, will increase our seedlings planted that we so far achieved by growing it in our nurseries and then digging a hole in ground.  The seed-ball consists of wrapping 3 different types of seeds in a ‚soil ball‘. Composed of cow dung, earth powder and clay formed by hand into the shape of or tennis ball, hence the name ‘seed-ball’.  To finish the process the seed balls are rolled up in ash before drying them.

The goal is to make reforestation easier, so children and adults alike can participate in this endeavor by taking a few seed balls along and throwing seed balls into the landscape wherever they go.

We hope that by doing so we will increase the number of trees springing from the earth and making the villages again a good place to live.

We learned this innovative technique thanks to the visit of Mahandry a reforestation specialist who joined us on our latest mission (site visit) and taught our team and the surrounding communities on how to make the seed balls literally hands on.

The Seneca Park Zoo Society in Rochester, New York has been supporting our reforestation efforts for a few years. They also have been involved in reforestation in Madagascar on a large scale close to Ranomafana National Park. To strengthen this collaboration and take it to the next level their reforestation specialist visited us to teach us his knowledge in a Madagascar know-how exchange. He lives and works 600 km or almost 400 miles south of us. We are honored he took an almost three-day journey to join us to share his knowledge with us and especially our Zahana gardeners. News of his workshops spread fast and delegates from other villages attended as well.

Seeing the excitement and joy for the children making, but especially throwing these seeds balls anywhere they go was the highlight of the event.

Reforestation + kids = fun

is a winning formula for all communities for a future with more and more trees.

Endemic tree and coffee seeds for seed balls
Endemic tree and coffee seeds for seed balls
Seed ball in all ist glory
Seed ball in all ist glory
Mixing manure and clay for the seed balls
Mixing manure and clay for the seed balls
A final protective seed ball coating with ash
A final protective seed ball coating with ash
Our gardener Bary observing the drying process
Our gardener Bary observing the drying process

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Villagers at Bary's tree nursery getting seedlings
Villagers at Bary's tree nursery getting seedlings

Evaluating the effectiveness of your programs’ impact is a challenge for everybody. Either as an external demand (often from funders) but also by the people implementing the programs themselves on the ground.

Our Zahana reforestation efforts have been ongoing for over a decade. With the launch of our improved cookstove workshops, we actually integrated reforestation as a core activity/condition. Communities commit to reforestation to qualify for an improved cookstove and bio-charcoal workshop in their village. (See our latest video How to build your own improved cookstove in rural Madagascar).

When we asked our local coordinator how the reforestation is working out - in real-world circumstances - he sent us back the photos included with this report. Basically: the proof is in the pictures.

In the photos you see a large amount of people surrounding our gardener Bary in his tree nursery next to the school. They came to get their seedlings to make good on their reforestation commitment. At the same time, you see bicycles doubling up as work horses to transport baby trees back to the village. It sure beats carrying trees on your head for miles.

Implementing one of the lessons learned from last year, our team will accompany the villagers back to their village and actively participate in their reforestation hands-on to make it as successful as possible.

Our head teacher keeping count of who got what
Our head teacher keeping count of who got what
Tree seedlings on their way back to be planted
Tree seedlings on their way back to be planted
Getting the seedlings ready for the bicycle trip
Getting the seedlings ready for the bicycle trip
Checking out the option and taking notes
Checking out the option and taking notes
Bicyles as transportation devices for seedlings
Bicyles as transportation devices for seedlings

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Our new gardener
Our new gardener

Reforestation has been a core activity for Zahana for over 10 years, thanks to our two gardeners. Empowered by Zahana’s salary they have been able to dedicate a good chunk of their time growing seedlings. Seedling are always given away for free to encourage and facilitate reforestation.  When other villages saw these efforts, they wanted in on the action and started requesting seedlings as well. In late 2019 we launched the project that combined reforestation with improved cookstoves. One of the fortunate results is: Mamy, our newest gardener.

Initiated by our outreach to neighboring villages, we met Mamy, our newest gardener. Reforestation, or the active tree planting in conjunction with improved cookstove workshops, lead us to his village. Subsequently the community approached us with a request for a formal long-term cooperation with Zahana. Their biggest priority was starting their own tree nursery and all they needed was a suitable trained gardener. Fortunately for us the village already has a well-functioning public school with a beloved teacher and their own water system, so we did not need to start from zero there.

Mamy lives just two villages over - a good hour’s walk for Bary our master gardener. To kickstart the budding nursery, Bary walked there several times a week for a few months to share his expertise and hands on training on site.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures that turned any plans upside down.

Despite all of that, Mamy successfully established his tree nursery and included other community members in the hands-on work. He has also experimented with introducing new crops with seeds provided by Zahana. His formal probation period was basically over before it even started.

In the next community meeting we will formalize our relationship and officially welcome him and his community nursery as our third gardener in 2021. As with the other two gardeners, paying his salary is an integral part of our micro credit strategy, illustrating that in integrative development all of our projects are interrelated.

His community is very dynamic and innovative, and we are looking forward to a much closer cooperation in the future. As you can see from the photos, he has developed a picture-worthy nursery.

Growing seedlings is a community effort
Growing seedlings is a community effort
Teacher and apprentice becoming equals
Teacher and apprentice becoming equals
The new nursery
The new nursery
Seedlings with lables
Seedlings with lables
Papaya is basically the same word - nursery
Papaya is basically the same word - nursery
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Arrived at the destination in the village
Arrived at the destination in the village

Maybe the proud faces with their brand-new bikes tell more than words in this report?

As an unforeseen consequence of COVID-19, our training team members are now the proud owners of bicycles. Zahana bought bicycles so they could reach the remote villages for workshops on building improved cookstoves, bio-charcoal production and reforestation. This allows them to travel on their own time and much quicker than on foot.

Private mini buses, the only public mode of transportation in Madagascar, were basically rendered nonexistent for months because of COVID-19 restrictions. In prior reports for our improved coostove project, we shared that the team had resorted to walking from their town to the villages for the workshops.  Walking not only takes longer but also it leaves them more vulnerable. With bicycles they can reach the villages in a few hours compared to what before took a day or more on foot. Consequently, they can spend more time teaching than traveling. As a safety precaution they only travel in teams of two or more.

We are grateful for the Coronavirus Relief Fund from GlobalGiving and support from donors like you that make this technological mobility leap possible.

As part of our COVID-19 prevention activities we have recently posted a videoTop of FormBottom of Form ‘Learning how to wash hands with soap in rural Madagascar’ on YouTube. We hope you spend (literally) a minute watching it.

It is only prudent to mention that #GivingTuesday on December 1 is approaching fast. Ironically it falls on the same date as World AIDS Day this year. Most likely this is not the only email reminding you of that date. After all, many non-profits are scrambling for donations in these COVID-19 uncertain times and we are in good company.

For 2020 #GivingTuesday, GlobalGiving offers 1 million dollars of matching funds for 24 hours (starting 00:00 EDT). So, if you want to add something extra to your donation, this might be a good opportunity.

The funds will be distributed proportional to the total amount we raise up to a maximum of $2,500 per donation. Details of this (rather hard to explain) model can be found on the GlobalGiving website as a brain gym exercise. 

A word about Monthly donors

Thank you to all of our monthly donors! Your steady support is the backbone for our activities.

If you feel so inclined, we are actively encouraging a monthly donation that spreads your total gift out over 12 months and helps us plan better for the future. Monthly donations reduce the anxiety of how much we are going to actually raise as most of the donations are received at the end-of-the year in December.

Currently your first donation gets matched by GlobalGiving 100%. As an added bonus there is a 200% match of your first month’s donation from December 14 to 18, 2020. To sweeten the deal, monthly donations also help us with the internal ranking at GlobalGiving more than a one-time donation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Checking out the brand new ride
Checking out the brand new ride
The team ready to go
The team ready to go
Mobility!
Mobility!

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zahana
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States
$74,645 raised of $85,000 goal
 
1,469 donations
$10,355 to go
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