The second update from Ghana already! We are very busy with our project and a lot has happened since the first update. We have executed the pilot in three different communities and planted 500 little shea trees. The shea tree consultant has explained the importance of this project to the women, how climate change is related to it and how important this project is to counter the effects of climate change! Furthermore, this project also has an impact on the conservation of biodiversity, CO2 reduction, and the sustainability of the income of the women. It is not easy to explain the importance of countering climate change to fairly poor people. They have more short-term problems on their minds like providing food for their families. It was nice to see that the women understood and the planting could begin!
We took off to the field immediately to explain how the trees must be planted, the women already made holes in the ground beforehand. The shea tree consultant explained how you plant the trees and how you water it. Also, it was important to make a ‘fire belt’ around the trees, because sometimes the farmers burn down their land to make way for new crops or for bush control. These are controlled fires, so they know exactly how to protect something from those fires. During the planting we took the coordinates of every tree and linked those to the women, then they know exactly which tree belongs to each person. Every woman now has 5 or 6 trees. Also, Sommalife wants to use a point system, this way the women can earn points for the amount of trees they nurture and they have more motivation to really do so. These points will eventually be converted into money for a savings account for the women.
After the training was done, we went back home. However, we came back some times to monitor the process. We took some surveys to see what the women thought about the project, if they understood the project and what kind of impact they think this project will have on their daily lives. The women are enthusiastic, understand the project well, are motivated to take care of the trees, and they say that they want to nurture their trees well because they think this is a very important project for future generations. This long-term vision was a nice surprise for us. They understand really well that even if they cannot profit from the trees, the next generation will.
All in all, until now it is a very successful project and hopefully this pilot will give Sommalife a lot of good insights to eventually get to the goal of planting 15.000 trees every year!