There are a lot positive things happening in Africa nowadays, especially in urban areas. However, things happen a lot slower in the rural settings, where still 80 % of populations rely on agriculture to survive. In fact, in many districts - conditions for farming have worsened substantially, as rain seasons have become very irregular, due to global warming.
A new initiative to turn this negative trend in the opposite direction is taking shape. Better Globe is planting trees in arid and semiarid areas in Kenya, so far in two plantations. By this, unemployed people are getting working opportunities and money in their pockets, soil erosion is diminished dramatically, CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere and transformed into oxygen, thus mitigating global warming. It is a simple yet a brilliant solution to many problems both locally and internationally.
Three of the biggest problems that Better Globe is working to address are desertification, illiteracy and lack of working possibilities. There are many other dominant problems on the ground, but Better Globe is addressing these three by the use of tree planting, school building and micro finance loans.
For 6 years, Better Globe has implemented a tree planting pilot project in Kiambere, Kenya, as the only tree planting company working in Africa challenging the arid and semiarid areas. With excellent results! 400,000 trees have been planted. The results are very promising that the 2013 tree planting drive will be scaling up dramatically, and this to be done in a commercially effective way.
Tree species are Mukau, a local mahogany tree; Apple mango, a very sweet and tasty mango fruit; well suited for exportation, and Acacia Senegal/Seyal producing Gum Arabic. Areas to grow these trees have been acquired through negotiations with local people as well as political and administrative leaders, securing a democratic process and a good base on which to build the projects. Local people work in these plantations, so far 300 people. As trees grow big and mature, factories and workshops are to be built near the plantations, for the use of the timber.
No nation can develop itself without education. School building is a natural part of Better Globe’s activity. This is done in cooperation with Child Africa, an organization that both sponsors children and runs schools.
So far, four schools have been built or refurbished; the 5th is being built now.
In Child Africa’s schools, the plan is to have 10-20% deaf pupils incorporated with hearing children, as many deaf children have no offer to go to schools and thus left in a terrible situation for the rest of their lives.
Many people carry a dream to feed their families. They may have the skills, but not the possibilities, as they have no money to invest. Better Globe gives micro credit loans at an affordable interest to entrepreneurs. This activity is administered by a Kenyan micro-finance bank, K-Rep.
What are the benefits?
A change in lives in the rural communities, moving away from poverty to a decent life, is expected. Positive changes to the climate are also expected, as the rains tend to stay in areas where there are more trees and forests, and help in global warming mitigation. Better Globe also expects the tree planting project to contribute towards reducing soil erosion. It will also indirectly save the rain forests as demand for tropical trees can be met with plantation trees, thus diminishing the pressure on the native forests. Furthermore, as less people have to find a livelihood through farming, they do not have to burn down the forests to clear the ground for farming. Last but not least, the parts of the trees that are not suitable for timber when cut - can be used for charcoal, a commodity commonly used for cooking and heating the houses in the cities.
Where does the money come from?
People around the world are invited to buy trees. Unlike the big forestry companies – at Better Globe the minimum investment is one tree, presently at 17 Euro, or one donation pack (which in reality is a combination of investment and donation, as two trees are incorporated in each pack) at 53 Euros. From the trees bought one will get 12 times of the investment back over a period of 20 years, starting with first payback after 5 years! Many people buy one or more trees/donation packs monthly as a way of saving.
For detailed information, please use these two links:
Better Globe also edits and publishes a tree business magazine for Africa – Miti (trees in Swahili). The articles here are written by leading people in the forestry business in Africa. A digital version of all the volumes can be reached here: http://issuu.com/mitimagazine/docs
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of Connect African Development.