Tree Aid charity logo

Miracle trees, month 1

Posted on Posted in Blog, Year Of Charity
  • Every month I donate part my salary to charity.
  • This month I sponsor ‘miracle trees’.
  • What impact do trees have?

2016 is my year of charity. I’ll donate part of my income for good causes, every month another one. Then I’ll blog about the project that I picked. Here is what I support in January.

For this month I choose Tree Aid. They focus on poor families in the African drylands, especially Women. The aim is to reduce poverty & protect the environment by using the potential of trees. The organisation provides education, training and technical advice around planting and maintain the saplings so they survive and grow. Goal is to support poor communities to build incomes, secure access to natural resources and provide nutritional security.

Why trees?

Everyone knows trees and plants that produce some form of food (fruits & nuts) or other products such as shea butter or just the raw timber. Fruits rich in vitamin B and C can be dried and pressed together into balls for later use. Seeds are used to make a dye and the wood is used to make tools and utensils.
Even during droughts, when other crops fail, trees can survive. This can provide a village a steady flow of something to harvest.
Man with hive, Ethiopia
Hailemariam with his bee hive, Ethiopia
Amongst the species Tree Aid plants you find Moringa trees, sometimes referred to as ‘miracle trees’ as they are packed with vitamins, amino acids, anti-oxidants and protein. Villagers can grow and maintain them without the need for further intervention if they have the right equipment and training. If all works as planned their plants provide:
  • Food to harvest
  • Money from selling products
  • Health coming from natural medicines

And it’s good for the environment too:

  • Soil making the land more fertile,
  • Shade for humans and wildlife as well as crops.
  • Acting as windbreaks that stop soil blowing away.

Bikes in the savannah

This charity works with teams based in the drylands of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Niger and the isolated areas of Ethiopia. They help to generate a sustainable income and therefore help communities in remote areas to thrive.
The charity aims to be sustainable and cost-effective. This means they provide trees and seedlings for growing food and improving the environment. They train locals how to grow and to care for them. Helping to set up tree nurseries and earn an income is a central part to achieve sustainability.
Donations going to Tree Aid might be used provide tools such as buckets, pestles and mortars as well as wheelbarrows – even bicycles to provide an environmentally friendly and low cost way to travel between nurseries and orchards. But an underestimated part is also to defend people’s rights to access: If you can’t reach the plants, or if someone else harvests its produce, it would render the efforts useless.
Woman holding grasses, Burkina
Woman holding grasses, Burkina

What happened so far?

Tree Aid has used their expertise in trees to fight poverty since 1987. They used their know-how to show the benefits that trees can bring. Along they learned that aligning motivation of people with actions results in commitment from locals and can cause a real, tangible change.

Since then

  • Over 10 million trees have been planted across Africa.
  • Millions more have regenerated naturally thanks to improvements in natural resource management.
  • More than 1,000,000 can grow more food thanks to better soil and water management.
  • Over 500,000 villagers have been educated to use trees for food, health and income and are able to feed their families

Let’s take a closer look at a Project

Here is an example of the work in Ghana for Community Self-Reliance Project: Northern Ghana is a dry savannah zone that occupies around 40% of the country. The south is very different and the climate varies. There is a period of very strong, dry winds known as the ‘harmattan’.
Farming and crop rotation was possible in the past because of a lower population density but that changed. Farming methods changed under the pressure of a larger population and turned the landscape to semi-arid. It’s an enormous challenge to provide food.
Farmers are driven to clear more land by cutting and burning trees as there are not many options for employment. But this leaves the region bare and prone to erosion and worsens the food situation and causes even more problems.
Tree Aid set up Community Self Reliance Projects across 17 villages in that region through their partner the CSRC (Community Self Reliance Centre).
Together they support communities to develop the skills necessary for sustainable tree and land management. Through the sale of tree products such as honey and organic mango they can diversify their sources of income.
The soil fertility and yields are increased thanks to organic farming techniques and agroforestry. Plants around schools and near public buildings are preventing further erosion and offer protection from the harsh conditions.
Family in Front of trees, Mali
Family in Front of trees, Mali

Who is behind all this?

All this was triggered by a famine in Ethiopia in 1987 – a group of foresters responded: After the emergency relief efforts ended they provided a long-term solution. Key to their strategy was and still is planting trees to reduce vulnerability to communities to drought and famine.

Why did I choose this project?

The reason why I choose Tree Aid is that it addresses several issues at the same time: protecting the environment, helping others in need and offer a sustainable long term solution. They have a good track record of what they achieved and are transparent about their donations and progress. This charity is a good start for my #yearofcharity.
Receipt for mil leaves' donation to TREE AID
Receipt for mil leaves’ donation to TREE AID