A group of women in Democratic Republic of Congo are being mentored in efforts to plant and make use of a multi-purpose tree. “Mentoring Cycle to Grassroots Women From Communities of Bas-Fleuve” works with women to educate them about climate change, and help them find ways to adapt. Through the effort, women chose to cultivate a type of tree that performs various functions and has multiple uses.
- 50 women in pilot project each planted a tree that is now mature
- Goal of 250 women participating
- 5,000 trees planned to be planted, helping sequester carbon from the atmosphere
People in the villages of Democratic Republic of Congo, and in particular women, carry out subsistence livelihoods and don’t have many alternatives if the weather turns bad and ruins their crops. But climate change is making exactly that happen more often, which is increasing these people’s vulnerability.
This project is mentoring women in the DRC community of Kinsambaba to cultivate the Moringa oleifera tree, also known as the “miracle tree” or “tree of life.” The women themselves chose this species for cultivation, as they already used it to some extent. Moringa oleifera’s roots, leaves, pods, and seeds can be used for food, to produce oil, make soap, and even to purify water. The pilot phase of the project had 50 women each plant a tree – those trees are now mature and giving back to the community.
Helping the planet
Planting trees helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere, combating further climate change. Trees also stabilize soil and help the earth to retain water, contributing to healthier ecosystems. That Moringa oleifera’s products require healthy, mature trees insures that communities will not cut down these useful resources.
The trees provide a clear benefit to the community in all their potential uses: supplemental nutrition, cleaner and safer water, and practical applications that have the potential to generate cash. Everyone benefits from a healthier natural environment, while the focus on women is helping them develop themselves individually and take on leadership roles. The community’s goal is to eventually earn enough money off the trees to build its own school for village children. A better education is a decisive step in further improving lives.
The initial pilot project is planned to be scaled five times larger, to 250 participants. As the initial trees matured, women in the community returned to project coordinators for further mentoring. They’re now organizing small enterprises for manufacture of soap and oil. The program is already a replication of another project, and another organization has plans to repeat it as well in a Madagascar community.
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