TOP
  • Home
  • National
  • How UN refugee body plans to plant 20 million trees per year

How UN refugee body plans to plant 20 million trees per year

By Pascal Kwesiga

Added 16th August 2019 12:37 PM

Reports published by New Vision about the impact of the refugee influx in the host communities show extensive damage to the environment in the settlements of the displaced persons, especially in the West Nile sub-region.

Joelboutroue 703x422

UNHCR Country Director, Joel Boutroue addressing journalists on August 14, 2019. Photo by Nancy Nanyonga

Reports published by New Vision about the impact of the refugee influx in the host communities show extensive damage to the environment in the settlements of the displaced persons, especially in the West Nile sub-region.

 

REFUGEES    ENVIRONMENT  CLIMATE CHANGE

KAMPALA - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) intends to plant 2o million trees per year to offset the environmental damage from the refugee influx.

Reports published by New Vision about the impact of the refugee influx in the host communities show extensive damage to the environment in the settlements of the displaced persons, especially in the West Nile sub-region.

The area hosts the highest number of refugees from South Sudan. It also hosts the largest refugee settlements (not a refugee camp) in the world.

Bidi bidi settlement in Yumbe district still has the highest number of refugees at 227,909 followed by Adjumani at 204,987, according to the latest UNHCR figures. They are followed by Parolinya in Moyo district – hosting 120,563 refugees.

The sub-region hosts about 800,000 of over 1.3 million refugees in Uganda now, according to the refugee agency.

Nearly all South Sudan refugees who trooped into Uganda following fresh fighting between 2013 and 2016 were settled in areas dominated by trees and grassland – which had to be cleared to establish settlements.

UNHCR Country Director, Joel Boutroue said their estimates show that each refugee needs 20 trees per annum – mainly serving as sources of fuel. “We do not want refugee girls to walk long distances looking for firewood. We launched this effort of planting trees earlier but it was hampered by periods of drought. We think more trees will be planted around October,” he added.

Boutroue was speaking on Wednesday during the signing of the memorandum of understanding with the Ireland ambassador, William Carlos, for the two million euros (sh8.2b) his (Ireland) country has committed towards the refugee response in Uganda. The event took place at the embassy of Ireland in Kampala.

The UN refugee agency boss said they are optimistic that the trees will offset the environmental damage occasioned by the refugee influx.

He said the agency will work with Uganda National Forestry Authority (NFA) to identify areas where trees would be planted beside the settlements and the surrounding areas. He said the trees will be planted each year as long as the land is available.

The NFA executive director, Tom Okello, said the refugee body and the authority plan to plant 8.4 million trees before the end of the year.

“UNHCR, having realized that refugees play a big role in degrading the environment, due to high demand for wood fuel and building materials, is trying to do something to reverse the degradation,” he added.

He explained that the 8.4 million will be planted in the settlements and host communities. In implementing the intervention, Okello, said emphasis will be placed on species for wood fuel and environmental restoration. He stated that NFA and the authority will restore 700ha of the degraded area in central forest reserves and plant bamboo trees on 300ha in the host communities.

“Bamboo grows very fast and will be a good source of building materials and wood fuel for refugees. We are also giving seeds and helping UNHCR partners to raise seedlings for planting. That is how they will get 20 million trees per year,” Okello stated.

However, he explained that the project has been hampered by the unpredictability of weather, adding that they had initially intended to launch the planting in March. “But we have already planted a good number of trees,” Okello said.

RELATED STORIES

 
 

Related Articles

More From The Author

Related articles