After nine months of dry weather, the rainy season has returned, replenishing the earth and bringing green life to the desert land once again. Although our partner communities only receive up to around 20 inches of rain every year, the rainy season creates the perfect three-month window to plant young trees and let them establish strong roots before the dry season returns in October. For the past 10 years, village volunteers work with CREATE! field technicians to plant thousands of trees around their communities, gardens, schools, and mosques in an effort to mitigate desertification in Senegal.
Desertification in Senegal increases annually, causing poor soil conditions, declining agriculture, loss of economic opportunity, and migration to urban areas. Senegal went from having an average 250 trees per hectare during the colonial period to less than 20 trees per hectare by 1995. With the country’s population boom over the last half-century, there has been increased pressure on natural resources – especially on trees that are so vital to peoples’ livelihoods in the rural areas. We believe it’s essential to not only replenish the trees that we use but to plant more in rural Senegal for the next generations.
Interview with Georges Nesta Mancabo
Meet Georges Nesta Mancabo, one of CREATE!‘s Horticulture Technicians. Georges leads sustainable programs in three of CREATE! partner communities: Boustane Lo, Diabel, and Mboss. He is passionate about empowering communities and mitigating desertification in Senegal through the annual tree-planting campaign. Georges dedication and creativity, especially with the tree-planting campaign, has taken our partner communities far. Learn more about CREATE!‘s tree-planting project in a Q&A interview below:
Interview translated from French.
1. Why is it important for communities to engage in tree-planting every year?
As communities are facing drought, desertification and climate change in such an unbearable way, it is essential for them to engage in tree planting as they are doing it now.
2. Why do you label the trees in the nurseries? How does this help?
I label the trees in the nurseries, not only to recognize them but also to help visitors learn about the different plants.
3. How do you inspire communities to participate in the tree-planting campaign?
We explain about the future impact and inspire the communities by doing training activities with concrete examples. The training activities give communities the skills they need to maintain the trees, and we always follow-up on their progress.
4. What are some of the challenges communities face?
The challenges are protection, maintenance, but above all production in the nursery. However, forest species do not care about the poor or rich soil. Especially since they are wild plant so they are more resilient. On the other hand, they can be damaged by natural phenomena (bad weather and pests).
5. What is your hope for the environmental future of rural Senegal?
The environmental future of rural Senegal is very promising given the efforts made in this area with NGOs like CREATE! whose objective is to promote a real green revolution in our campaign. We hope that within a few decades we will have good vegetation over time, so we will have contributed to this change.
Georges cares for young trees for the Annual Tree-Planting Campaign in rural Senegal. CREATE! field technicians facilitate the tree planting activities, advising community members on best practices for where to plant trees, what varieties to grow, and how to maintain them so they can put down strong roots before the next dry season begins in October.