With the help of our partners Wessanen UK, we have been able to support Alpha Women’s Empowerment Initiative (AWEI) in Uganda with their grafted Mango tree planting project. This project, which is part of ITF’s Sustainable Community Forestry programme aims to mobilise and sensitise 300 women on environmental sustainability through tree planting. This will in turn improve the community’s nutrition and income as food production will increase, reducing poverty. Grafted mango trees are central to this programme, these trees mature several years faster than non-grafted mangoes, meaning that food production can increase within the communities sooner.
This project is carrying out vital work; areas of forest in the Rwenzori National Park have been degraded due to local communities felling trees in order to sell their timber. Communities have been forced to turn to deforestation as a source of income due to above average population density, food shortages and poverty. This project aims to provide local communities with a new income source, allowing the forests in the areas to recover and communities to develop.
Since the project’s inception in March 2018 AWEI have been working towards these goals, gradually involving local women in the project. So far 324 women have been mobilised to be involved in tree planting and nurturing. 5032 grafted mango seedlings have been bought to supply the 168 women who have been trained in grafting mango trees. On top of these achievements, a mango nursery bed has been established with 10 trained nursery operators managing the site.
Jones Masika is one of the women benefitting from the project, she received grafted mango seedlings as well as training on the best ways to care for them. Jones Masika said “I was lacking knowledge on planting mango trees on steep slopes. I have learnt, I have now planted and am managing mango trees. This means a future for my income and food.”
AWEI chairperson Masika Margret said “I am pleased a solution for poverty that leads to environmental harshness in this area has been set. Mangoes will double the women’s income and food source in the future. Building the capacity of women has a big role in creating self-sustainability and a conducive environment. Thanks to International Tree Foundation for this project support.”
With 5 months of this programme remaining AWEI are still setting goals to achieve within the communities they work with. One such goal is to purchase a further 4968 grafted mango seedlings, bringing the total up to 10,000 over the project’s full duration. AWEI would also like to train more beneficiaries in grafting trees and educate communities on the dangers of deforestation.
Thanks to Wessanen UK for supporting ITF and AWEI’s project, this mango tree planting programme has so far been a great success and we hope it will continue to improve the livelihoods of local communities and the health of local forests.