The past year has been witness to a whole new program within our Native Seeds Project. As hundreds of thousands of families from South Sudan began pouring into Northern Uganda we began to ask ourselves: what can we do? It’s a humanitarian crisis so vast that sometimes having an impact seems out of reach, and yet simultaneously, having a crisis of that degree in your project’s proverbial backyard propels you to think of the tangible, concrete ways you might be able to contribute.

Refugees at the Palorinya settlement

Refugees at the Palorinya settlement

So, we started a campaign. We understood that two of the most pressing needs for many of these refugees is adequate food, and access to the fuel they need to be able to cook that food. News reports talked about food ration shortage, which was again and again confirmed by the individuals waiting in line for their food rations: most of them only eat one meal per day, and are lacking the spectrum of vitamins and minerals that are needed to keep our human bodies healthy. 

That’s where moringa comes in. We piloted our “Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Firewood” program in Palorinya Refugee Settlement last October. Through that campaign, we established a working relationship with the local government, trained 35 refugee volunteer “EPCs” (Environmental Protection Committee), and planted 1,700 moringa tree seedlings with refugee households. With its success, and some valuable lessons we learned along the way, we were ready to scale.

Native Seeds team distributing seedlings and training local communities in their care

Native Seeds team distributing seedlings and training local communities in their care

And now, that’s where you come in. Thanks to your contribution during our End of Year Campaign, along with grant from LUSH Cosmetic’s Charity Pot, we will be able to reach 100,000 refugees this year with moringa fruit seedlings for improved nutrition, and fast-growing timber species that can be used for sustainable sources of firewood. 

With your support, we have to date:

  • Built a tree nursery with the capacity to produce 100,000 seedlings in Palorinya Refugee Settlement
  • Are providing 3 full-time jobs to the local community, working as nursery attendants
  • Have trained 196 refugee volunteers in the ‘Environmental Protection Committee’ on tree seedling care and management, uses of trees, and data collection
  • Are providing temporary jobs to the 196 refugees working as the Environmental Protection Committee, creating important, eco-friendly income to individuals working to rebuild their lives
  • Produced 96,000 seedlings to be distributed to 19,300 refugee households (about 100,000 refugees)

Over the next few months, we will:

  • Continue trainings with refugee Environmental Protection Committee
  • Produce an additional 54,000 seedlings to be planted within Palorinya Refugee Settlement
  • Monitor seedling survival rate and provide important follow-up with participating refugees to ensure our model is successful and meaningful in the lives of those we are working with
Native Seeds team at the Palorinya Refugee Settlement, May 2018

Native Seeds team at the Palorinya Refugee Settlement, May 2018

All of this is happening because of your support. The vivacity in which the refugees have embraced this project is inspiring–for them, this project represents a turning point in their lives as refugees, as it is a moment where they can begin providing for themselves by supplementing their food rations with trees that they are caring for and growing themselves. 

We look forward to sharing with you more about the success of this project, and opportunities to continue to grow it.