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"Planting trees is important" - Lillian's story
Lillian Candiru was born and raised in the north of Uganda. 33 years ago, the local landscape looked quite different: "In the past, there were many trees in the area, but people have felled more and more trees in recent years. They used the wood to build their simple houses and as fuel in cooking. For a long time, many more trees were felled than were replanted," says Lillian Candiru.
Around two thirds of the tree population in this region of Uganda has been felled in the past 25 years. The economically underdeveloped region has taken in almost one million refugees since 2016, mainly from South Sudan. A population increase signifies higher demand for natural resources: there has been an increase in the unregulated felling of trees. Lillian notices that this also has an impact on the climate.
"We live mainly from agriculture and no longer know when best to plant. We no longer know when it will rain and the seeds will be sufficiently watered. If it does not rain, the seeds wither in the dry earth. Everything has changed in recent years. There is much less rain and the yields from the harvests are not as high. People are starving," says Lillian.
Lillian Candiru has five children and feeds her family with the agricultural produce. But the harvest from her garden has been getting smaller and smaller lately. Many Ugandans and refugees from neighbouring countries are in a similar situation.
Sustainable perspectives for people and the environment through reforestation: We plant trees
In 2019, Malteser International started to reforest the area. We planted 101,000 tree seedlings so that the soil would recover, the shade of the trees would lower soil temperatures and the rainwater would be better retained in the soil ensuring it would not immediately evaporate again in the barren landscape. This year we will plant 90 hectares of trees and provide 4,000 families with fruit trees.
"I got mango, pawpaw, orange and banana trees from Malteser International. They provide shade, keep out the gusts of wind and I can harvest the fruit. We eat some of the fruit ourselves and sell the rest. I thus earn some money, which helps me a lot," says Lillian Candiru. "Furthermore, Malteser International has drilled many wells. There's one close to my house. This way I can water my garden more easily and do not have to walk such a long distance. At last we have clean water to drink."
In order to raise awareness of the consequences of deforestation among the population, we train young people in the operation of tree nurseries. They receive gardening tools and learn how the trees thrive best. They can then use the knowledge they acquire there to earn a living. In environmental clubs we train young people as multipliers so that we can reach even more people.
"I think the more people are involved in reforestation, the better"
"Since more and more people started cutting down trees, less and less rain fell. I think the more people are involved in reforestation, the better. For me it is clear: planting trees is important. The trees provide shade, keep the wind out and bring rain," says Lillian Candiru.