Wales-Mbale Climate Change Tree Planting
Project update, September 2012
- As the second year of the project is drawing to close, the project is well on track to achieve its goal of
planting 1 million trees, with over 900,000 trees already planted and a further 400,000 planned for the
coming year to account for those saplings that have not survived. Some of the trees planted 2 years ago are
already around 5 metres tall.
- Around 300 fuel efficient stoves
have been built into the kitchens of tree planting partners and ongoing support and sensitisation has been
provided to ensure that the stoves are adopted into use.
- Several thousand people have attended drama production which seeks to
increase awareness on climate change.
- Several large landslides have taken place in the region over the last
year resulting in many deaths and considerable displacement. These landslides are being attributed locally to
changed weather patterns - especially increased heavy rainfall and to deforestation. The tree planting
partners report that demand for trees has dramatically increased in recent times with a much greater
appreciation among the general population of the benefits of tree
- The Welsh Government continues to work closely with the tree planting
partners and is currently approaching funders to allow the rapid expansion of the planting in years 4, 5 and
Location: Africa, Uganda, Mbale
Date project established: April 2010
The Wales – Mbale Tree Planting Project is a public-private scheme that has been developed in
association with the Size of Wales programme, which seeks to protect an area of tropical forest the size of
Wales, the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme which encourages the 3 million people in Wales
(5% of the UK population) to make an effective contribution to international development in sub-Saharan
Africa and the Mbale Coalition Against Poverty which brings together District government’s and
NGO’s in the Mbale region of Uganda. The project came about after extended discussions with local
stakeholders and is based on a wider and deeper long-term partnership within which both sides have
identified clear advantages from the interaction. A major impact of climate change within this region was
found to be damage done to coffee bushes by increasing temperature and greater intensity of rainfall.
The Wales – Gumutindo public – private partnership will be the focus of this session. Gumutindo
is a private Fairtrade Organic Coffee Cooperative
with more than 10,000 members
At least one million trees will be raised and planted by tens of local nurseries under the auspices of
Gumutindo Coffee and other local partners. Tree species have been selected that will shelter the developing
coffee harvest whilst providing a range of other advantages, including slope stabilisation, soil improvement
and increasing the range of marketable crops.
In the future, Mbale is predicted to be one of the few parts of Uganda that remains viable for coffee
production, although climate adaptation action needs to be taken to ensure that the existing, high value
arabica rather than the robusta variety grown elsewhere in Uganda remains a viable choice.
Tackling climate change is a key priority for the Welsh Government and it is underpinned by the Welsh
Government’s legal duty to promote sustainable development in the exercise of all its functions. With
the Tree Planting Project, the Welsh Government also intends to communicate how such actions can assist with
climate change mitigation and adaptation and demonstrate to the people of Wales how climate change is
happening right now in Africa.
This project will not only provide increased tree cover but, through the associated sensitization, is likely
to decrease deforestation.
Mitigation and/or Adaptation
The project is already one year in – with two further years to complete the target of one million trees
in the Mbale area (Gumutindo target: 250,000).
The Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative has already planted 100,000 seedlings, established 14 nurseries and raised
awareness to over 2000 farmers and over 10,000 community members about the positive impact tree planting can
make both in the short and long term. They have conducted formal awareness workshops on climate change,
causes, effects and solutions and also technical training in nursery establishment, agro forestry, potting
The benefit from all of this development is wide-ranging throughout members of the co-operative, their
families and the wider community and as the project progresses, the benefit will further embed.
It will take time for the trees to begin to prove their worth for the farmers but the practice of managing
the project and truly understanding the value of it, is already showing within the community:
- Groups are empowered to take responsibility for their own trees and to utilise the project to plan and
adapt it for the future.
- The project is assisting with awareness in the community as the tree planting programme is a visual and
practical project that has gained the interest of local people.
- Awareness and understanding of the project has lead to increased community participation in tree planting
and environmental management.
- Learning from year one is already being used to make improvements for the second year of the project.
The Project Manager, works with the farmers to collect data and report
monthly on developments. The 4 tree planting partners have regular meetings to update each other on progress
and to discuss challenges to progress. In the first year such challenges included an extended dry season
which turned into a drought and a Presidential election which saw several tree nurseries abandoned whilst
whole communities participated in election rallies. These regular meetings have become an invaluable
opportunity for the different groups to share with and learn from each other – thus increasing the
collective knowledge base of the region. Official reports are gathered quarterly and passed to the Welsh
Government and the Size of Wales project. Six monthly monitoring field visits have been conducted by the
Welsh Government. The Mbale Coalition Anti-Poverty also conducts monitoring and evaluation using the offices
of the local District Councils and their Environment Officers.
Finally, each of the 4 partners conducts an evaluation of one of the other 4 each year – creating an
opportunity for in depth learning which is uncommon in the region
Each of the 4 tree planting partners was already working with their community groups on a range of issues
including health promotion, community development and improved agricultural practice. The inclusion of the
tree planting as an additional strand has strengthened the other elements and increased community
participation across the board. The availability of saplings to community group members at no or very low
cost has been an incentive to participate more widely.
Gumutindo employ agriculture extension workers to work closely with their 10,000 coffee growers, advising on
organic methods and helping improve quality through the provision of better coffee plants. As a Fairtrade
Co-operative they are committed to long-term engagement and are deeply concerned by climate change. The
changing climate is already impacting on coffee yields and there is evidence that the optimum region for
coffee growing is moving higher up the mountain every year.
The project does not just focus on planting one million trees but also on awareness and learning within the
community. Individuals are being exposed to climate change messages through training, drama productions and
the opportunity to become directly involved.
One of the community tree planting groups is planting trees to line the streets of an area of Mbale town in
order to provide much needed shade in urban and peri-urban settings.
The Tree Planting Project is one that community members are aware of and brings climate change into the
everyday conversation of people’s lives. The Ugandan community has benefited from the widespread
Welsh interest and concern, in that active measures were taken to support them on the occasion of recent
landslides and the Welsh public has an increased and increasing awareness of the impacts of climate change.
The delivery of The Tree Planting Project is linked to the ‘Coalition Against Poverty’ that has
been established between Wales-Africa Community link of PONT - Pontypridd (Rhondda Cynon Taff, South Wales)
– Mbale (Uganda), founded in 2000. This community link, which has brought together the district
councils from both sides, involves many local organisations on both sides including the councils, hospitals,
health boards, universities, and NGOs. Hundreds of people have taken part in reciprocal visits between
Pontypridd/RCT and Mbale, involving a cross-section of the community and professionals such as doctors,
engineers and teachers.
Measurement of social benefits is via 'most significant change' and similar discourse-based tools,
taking advantage of the range of formal and informal interactions taking place on a regular [usually at least
monthly] basis between the Welsh and the Ugandan partners.
More formal analysis will be the based upon the monthly and three monthly reports supplied to the Welsh
The Project Manager, regularly reports on social change and development, both formally and informally.
The Welsh Government also funds an Organisational Development professional to work with Gumutindo at
intervals throughout the year. Formal and informal reports are gathered from this work, including the
measurement of social benefits.
Potential for Scaling-up and replication of project
Currently in the second year of a three-year programme, the project aims:
- To raise awareness and capacity within a range of local communities of the advantages of and
opportunities for tree-planting in the context of regional climate change
- To increase regional tree cover, usually moving toward either low-density canopy or corridor structures.
- To develop tree nurseries to supply the increased demand for tree saplings.
- Development of a clearer understanding and application of best practice for this region.
We anticipate that a further bid for funding will be made towards the end of year 2 which will enable
substantial scaling up at the end of year 3. The project has, to date placed a high degree of emphasis on
capacity building. We are confident that the project could be expanded to allow the planting of 10 million
trees per annum within 5 years.
The Tree Planting Project is one that could easily be replicated across the world. The Size of Wales project
has the capacity to fund the replication of this model in several sub Saharan African Countries.
Wales for Africa Programme
Size of Wales Project
Mbale Coalition Against Poverty;
Mbale,Manafwa and Bududa District Councils;
NGOs: Salem, Bunkoko Rural Development’ Centre and ‘Share An Opportunity’;
Gumutiondo Coffee Co-op Ltd;
Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD)