The Green Sahel project is a partnership between 9 Rotary clubs in Rotary District 5190 and VNGPS, a local NGO. The plan is to plant 16,000 fruit trees for for individual families and schools, businesses and Mosques as well as building a large community farm in a town called Fonde Elimane that will benefit close to 1,000 people. Much care is taken to make sure that the trees actually grow to maturity. The main goals of this project are to reduce hunger and malnutrition in the region. Secondary goals are to mitigate climate change, restore biodiversity to the region, and to slow the expanse of the Sahara Desert.
Our objectives include:
· Combat malnutrition by providing new, locally-grown food sources
o Over the years the trees planted will offer fresh fruit to the families who take care of the tree, some species can give two harvests per year.
o The community farm will allow people to grow vegetables during the dry season, when most people go 9 months without eating a fresh fruit or vegetable.
· Reduce hunger and enhance financial stability in the region
o Fruit from the trees can be sold locally or to processing facilities in large cities.
o Since there are three growing seasons each year in Senegal, each family with a plot of land in the community farm can grow two crops of rice/corn and then a crop of vegetables during the cool, dry season. They can sell the vegetables and make up to three times what a rice crop would have been worth on the same land.
· Slowing Sahara desertification southward into the Sahel region.
o Planting trees mitigates desertification when the local populous maintains the trees by incorporating sustainable practices.
· Increasing biodiversity in the Sahel
o The Sahel region along the Senegal river was once a diverse forest. Now it is a desert where nothing grows except for thorn trees and short grass. The fruit trees that VNGPS plant grow well in the environment and add much needed biodiversity to the region, and especially to the river valleys where most people live.
· Combating climate change
o Trees capture carbon and live for decades.
o Fruit trees can grow without the aid of synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals commonly used in vegetable gardens.
o Locals appreciate the additional shade which reduces the need for human-made structures, which require fossil fuels to build.