Limited access to water is one of the biggest problems in the areas where Better Globe Forestry Ltd. (BGF) operates. Water shortages lead to practical problems with planting the trees, as well as difficulties related to health, hygiene, food, and schooling.
BGF has chosen to plant trees in arid and semi-arid areas to create the most substantial social and environmental impacts. Many of these barren areas are developing into deserts due to deforestation and little precipitation. Desertification is gradually transforming both fertile lands and semi-arid regions into arid regions.
The valuable topsoil is being eroded because there are no roots and plants to keep the soil in place through heavy rain. During the two rainy seasons, heavy rainfall on dry land ends up washing the soil away. That is why BGF plants trees that are drought-resistant, beneficial, and native to this environment.
After the first year of growth, the Mukau trees in Kenya can cope more or less on their own. The trees provide benefits such as binding water to the soil, reducing soil erosion, and improving soil fertility through nitrogen fixation.
Acacia trees have also been planted in Kenya, although Mukau is now the main species there. The Acacia senegal trees are particularly resistant to dry spells and can survive up to 18 months without water.
As the trees grow, they shade the ground around them, which helps spur surrounding vegetation. The natural process makes a huge difference in holding the soil in place, capturing dew at night, and retaining water when it rains. It is the beginning of a transformative cycle that is crucial to prevent desertification.
Contract farmers and regenerative agriculture
BGF employs Agroforestry Agents who train farmer groups in land restoration techniques and soil and water management. Improving access to water includes training for installing structures like terraces and retention ditches. These structures retain rainwater, hence providing adequate time for the water to seep underground and provide sufficient moisture for the proper growth of both food crops and trees.
With increased access to water, farmers have improved crop production due to reduced erosion and increased water infiltration and retention in the soil, thus ensuring crops receive continuous water and mineral supply for more extended periods.
BGF prepares for the rainy season in Kenya by setting up temporary seedling distribution centers. This way, contract farmers who live far away from the main nursery are not asked to make long journeys to collect their tree seedlings. Instead, they can visit temporary seedling distribution centers established in collaboration with schools and local chiefs. In return for making the space available, the schools and chiefs get access to water tanks made available to water the tree seedlings. For the local communities, this means access to extra water at the end of the dry seasons, which is always a welcome relief.
Providing access to water
Most of the people who live in the vicinity of where BGF operates lack access to clean water. They may have to walk for many hours every day to fetch water. It is often women and children who end up with this task.
Some people have access to “water kiosks,” where they queue up to buy water from a faucet. Others may seek out river beds where they dig holes to get down to the groundwater, which often is dirty and contaminated. In cases where children need to help with bringing water to their families, it is likely this prevents them from going to school.
BGF renovates schools, in cooperation with Child Africa, close to their tree plantations in Kenya. They provide existing buildings with gutters and large water tanks that fill up during the rainy seasons. And from time to time, during extended dry spells, BGF may also use a truck to deliver clean water to fill the schools’ water tanks.
According to the headmaster of a school in Sosoma, supported through the donation package in collaboration with Child Africa, the simple upgrade resulted in twice as high attendance as before installing the water tanks. It is easier for parents to send their children to school if the school provides them with drinking water during the warmest hours of the day.
When BGF supplies water to the tree plantations, it also makes sure that the surrounding communities get access to this water supply. In many cases, the aid may be water cisterns and gutters. In other instances, drilled wells. We can help provide this assistance, thanks to the contributions from the sale of donation packages.
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