The Acacias Changed My Life

 A woman smiling in front of a line of hung laundry
Mme Amba Eyenga benefits from these young trees on many levels. Credit: Papy Mulamba, UNDP-DRC 2015

Combating the cutting of trees, as well as planting trees as a windbreak, aids the fight against climate change and the reinvigoration of communities.

Since 2011, the sustained efforts to reforest the degraded periphery of Lake Tumba in Bikoro, in the Equateur Province, are beginning to yield results. The city has become green once again through the joint efforts of the local population, the NGO GASHE (Groupe d’Action pour Sauveur l’Homme et son Environnement), as well as the UNDP, through the Programme de petites subvention sur financement du Fonds Mondial pour l’Environnement. GASHE has received 46,543 U.S dollars in four installments in order to implement this project. The young acacia and leucaena plants have taken root, the choice of trees focused on fast-growing species. At Bikoro’s Saint-Vincent de Paul Parish, as well as behind the territory office, the trees already exceed three meters in height. A small forest is slowly regenerating. High winds that were blowing from the lake during heavy storms and carrying away roofing from homes no longer have a devastating impact on housing. Where the helpless population had previously seen the effects of the sinister forces originating from the bottom of the lake, the trees planted on the bank have now overpowered the fury of the fierce winds. They serve as a windbreaker.

“The population were unknowingly experiencing the impact of climate change linked to the deforestation of the lake’s shores. They did not understand that their way of life had environmental consequences and engendered climate change. It was therefore necessary to involve the public in order to find a sustainable solution,” explains Julien Mathe, president of GASHE.

Highlights

  • 44 ha reforested and 3450 trees planted
  • 46,543 U.S dollars : cost of the project
  • The lessor is the Global Environment Facility
  • Under the UNDP’s Programme protection de l’environnement et du volet de lutte contre le changement climatique, the purpose of this project is to take action for the preservation of the environment. This includes projects related to biodiversity and the fight against the effects of global warming, water pollution, the decline and degradation of land, and the reduction of the ozone layer.

Under the UNDP’s Programme protection de l’environnement et du volet de lutte contre le changement climatique, GASHE has implemented a project for the reforestation of the degraded periphery of Lake Tumba through agroforestry in ten different sites of the Bikoro territory. GASHE have conducted the reforestation of 44 hectares of Lake Tumba; increasing the use of agroforestry to safeguard forests, as well as the sustainable management of trees planted through increasing awareness of good environmental practice. GASHE has thereby contributed to the reduction of poverty in 44 households in sites covered by the project. “Forty-four households have been direct beneficiaries. A total of 220 people have been directly involved in different kinds of work while receiving around 210 U.S dollars bonus a month for six months,” added Julien Mathe, president of GASHE. 

“The reforestation of the periphery of Lake Tumba has enabled the protection of my home from high winds that carried away the roofing. We are on the front line. My house is now protected. The trees also provided a solution for washing my family’s clothes. The green acacia seeds have the same qualities as soap. I grind them and soak them with the clothes before rinsing them the next day. The result is excellent. The demand for seedlings has exploded and I have a tree nursery in order to satisfy the demand. The acacias have saved my life!” reports Mrs. Amba Eyenga.

This mother claims that her life has been changed by collaborating with the NGO GASHE (Groupe d’Action pour Sauveur l’Homme et son Environnement) in order to reforest the shores of Lake Tumba in Bikoro. “Many households were not concerned and did not understand why it was necessary to plant trees. Now, I understand the importance of trees for human life,” Amba reveals. 

The reforestation project of the degraded periphery of Lake Tumba by agroforestry has allowed the planting of 3450 trees. Along the main road that borders the lake, women choose to sell in the shade of the trees. “I do not have enough means to buy a sunshade to shelter myself, I chose the shade of this tree to sell,” maintains mother Jeanne, who sells seasonal fruit.

Marc NGWANZA

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