Since 2019 we have been shifting our focus to planting trees.
Climate change is rapidly leading to the desertification of sub-Saharan Africa. This reduces the fertility of soils and increases the severity of both droughts and floods. The best way to combat this issue is by planting trees. In the short term, trees reduce soil erosion and improve the quality of the soil. In the long term, trees mitigate the effect of carbon emissions and target the heart of the problem. Climate change and the resulting negative effects on agriculture and, hence, increase in poverty, unfortunately, affect women disproportionately much. By providing women with the means to plant trees they have the tools to become empowered in the short and long term and are simultaneously fighting a battle that will benefit everyone and especially women in the future.
We have three different approaches to planting trees.
We still believe that our individual garden model is powerful because it allows women to improve their life using existing land and without requiring huge investments. The biggest drawback to this model is that small vegetable gardens require quite a bit of work and fertile soil. So, planting trees near individual homes could be a sustainable alternative to vegetable gardens. Mango trees provide the same benefits as vegetable gardens – they provide food and a source of income that belongs to the woman (not the man). They provide the additional benefit of being a long term source of food/income, providing shade, and, perhaps most importantly, fertilizing the soil and reducing desertification.
Community gardens allow Burkinabe women to come together to work on a common project, which creates a support network and empowers women in the long run. Unfortunately, water is scarce, and wells are very expensive and are not the most sustainable solution. Therefore, we planted mango trees in the community gardens. This means that the trees slowly make the soil they are planted in more fertile and allow vegetables to grow more efficiently and sustainably on the soil below them. Furthermore, the trees provide an additional source of food, shade, and income from selling the surplus of mangos. Mango trees are making our community gardens turn into a year-round oasis.
The Burkina Institute of Technology and the Lycée Schorge are two modern and innovative academic institutions in Koudougou. In a partnership with these institutions, we have planted over 1,000 trees on their campuses. The trees we planted on our campus also provide much-needed shade, create a tranquil environment and a good source of nutritious food. Moreover, these trees teach a new generation about the importance of sustainability, which will benefit generations to come.