Protecting Our Environment

Question: What world do you want for your youth?

Our land is degrading, desertification is happening before our eyes...

Where our crops once grew bountifully, they can now struggle to grow at all. We are also watching deforestation happen around us as bad agricultural practices continue to take place amongst communities.   

All of these have devastating impacts for the people of our communities. Agriculture is the backbone of rural communities in Tanzania, but with farmers struggling to grow crops due to environmental changes, there are little crops to eat and sell – meaning more hunger and more poverty.

We have already started to experience the impacts of climate change in our communities. Our rainfall has become more erratic – we experience extensive periods of drought, leading to water scarcity, followed by short sharp heavy rainfalls, leading to flooding, which can take many lives. Our food security has steadily declined as our extreme weather has provided devastating conditions for our agriculture – droughts do not allow for our crops to grow without water, but flooding destroys them. As our temperature increases, heat stress also contributes to our reduced crop productivity, as well as pest and disease damage.

But we are looking at even more severe consequence if we let climate change continue its current path. With a continuing increase in annual temperature, increased erratic weather such as droughts and flooding, we will be looking at more challenges in agriculture, and thus more food insecurity. We will also be looking at an increased risk of health implications as the climate conditions increase suitability for habitats of biting insects and transmission of vector-borne diseases. With the change in climate, we will be facing increased water scarcity, and together with bad agricultural practices we could be facing desertification. We will also be facing increased poverty – especially in communities like ours

But we are looking at even more severe consequence if we let climate change continue its current path. With a continuing increase in annual temperature, increased erratic weather such as droughts and flooding, we will be looking at more challenges in agriculture, and thus more food insecurity. We will also be looking at an increased risk of health implications as the climate conditions increase suitability for habitats of biting insects and transmission of vector-borne diseases. With the change in climate, we will be facing increased water scarcity, and together with bad agricultural practices we could be facing desertification. We will also be facing increased poverty – especially in communities like ours

“Climate change is having a growing impact on the African continent, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources…”

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas

We know how vital it is for us all to take action, to protect and restore our environment – and we are passionate about the work we do. After all, it is our home; it is the lives of our communities that are already being impacted by climate change.

We are the vulnerable that climate change is impacting the most.

However, we are also the local communities that can take action the best.

Tree Conservation and Reforestation

We love our trees and it’s been heart-breaking to see so many cut down illegally around us.

It’s vital that we shift in our conservation efforts to restore and preserve our land, including for our indigenous flora and fauna. Our forest ecosystems are already degrading, and this will only be accelerated with climate change, with our trees and remaining land subject to pressures associated with demand for food and income. We need to continue expanding our conservation efforts into new areas, and increase our management of existing areas that can flourish and help absorb future impacts of climate change.

This sign reads, “it is prohibited to cut and burn trees in this location.” Vedasto is a farmer who has joined our environmental campaign to stop deforestation and ‘slash and burn’.

We are working to expand our conservation efforts through reforestation. We care for the trees from seedlings in our nursery until they are ready to be planted at the right time, so they can grow strong. We are aiming to plant thousands of new trees in our area of Tanzania.

As well as helping us take climate action, the benefits from our tree planting project will also include restoration of our land through improved soil and additional fertility, and improved livelihoods from fruit foods through nutrition and cash.

We also know how important it is to protect our existing trees and land. Income poverty in communities like ours leads to illegal burning of charcoal, timber, firewood and logging. Inadequate literacy on environmental related matters and traditional beliefs leads to people felling trees by burning, uprooting and debarking them for herms and other needs; as well as burning bushes to make wildfires as seeing bushes as enemies because they attract other creatures to inhabit them. We also know that failing to replace trees, as well as farming at stream banks can cause erosion.

We need people to understand that everything in our ecosystem is something to be cherished, something that ultimately, gives us a better way of living. This includes challenging damaging practices that still exist in the communities, such as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture, and educating people on the climate and environment.

In 2020 we started a 3 year plan to plant 200,000 trees in 4 villages involving 1000 people, 16 institutions and at 11 streams will be planted by community groups in collaboration with local government. The trees will include trees like palm, pines, fruits and drought resistant Mvengi will be planted. The organisations involved will include Rusesa Secondary, Makingi Primary school, Zeze, Kitbitibi Primary School, Kigembe, Kakirungu, Rusesa, Kwaga and Msebeyi schools, and 5 health care centres at Zeze, Rusesa, Nyanganga, Kigembe and Kwaga.

We have already trained the youth ambassadors who will manage these areas and are looking for funding to complete it.

Moringa Oleifera

Since 2012 we have been providing moringa seeds, planting and telling the community about the benefits moringa oleifera species – a drought-resistant and fast-growing – have. Such benefits include medicinal, nutritional, beekeeping and soil improvement values. Moringa oleifera is the best plant for the restoration of degraded land, greening the environment and provide many profits to the atmosphere and creatures. In Zeze village alone more than a half of the population have it either at home or at the farms. Despite that it is not regarded as economical plant, however it has an opportunity to be and people are ready to make it a cash crop for the area following our work.

Wood Trees

A method known as ‘Slash and Burn Farming’ was used where the natural vegetation is cut down and burned; the land then usually becomes infertile, so the famer moves onto a new plot and repeats the same process. We have been educating people against this method, and we encourage people to grow trees for timber and firewood as instead of depleting the natural forest. Trees like coniferous pines are the best replacement and are well accepted by the community so far we have planted more than 9700 tree since 2017 for this purpose, either from the nursery we established or bought and distributed to small farmers.

Fruit Trees

We are improving the status of fruit trees growing through education and supply. Many farmers hadn’t a culture of growing fruit trees because they take a long time to produce fruits. However, people now understand that the trees are not only for eating but also for shade before they fruit. We have been providing palm trees, avocado and mango seedlings and individuals grow them as part of their involvement in the processes of managing the environment.

Climate Education

It’s not enough to simply take action ourselves. We know that better environmental education is integral for taking climate action, protecting our environment and improving lives.

Rural people and their leaders are less aware on climate change, being uneducated on such topics and understandings of the world. We always do the vital work that combats climate change, yet still people don’t fully understand.

We not only aim to educate people through farmer training so they can maintain more sustainable practices, but we also run sessions to educate the community and their leaders on climate change and adaptation means, with the aim of improving land rather than shifting from exhausted soil to a virgin land. Training has shown positive impacts to the majorities on improving the ways of production and improving the environment since we started it in 2017… We also ensure we educate our youth on the climate and environment!

Beekeeping

We have set up a beekeeping project whereby hives are hung on trees. Bees are the soldiers to arm against any person trying to harm the tree on which they are nesting. People see the beehives and respect that they are someone’s vital source of income and will leave the trees be. People are educated about the disadvantages of fire burning to the beehives and bees.

Fire is decreasing in areas with hives. We show people how bees are also beneficial for income, nutrition and environmental conservation. Since we started with 60 hives, we have now hung more than locally made 600 hives that are helping to protect the trees, give more nutrition to the community and more income from the honey and bees wax.

Clean Energy

Grid electricity came very recently to Zeze, and many households cannot afford to connect to it. Therefore many people rely on wood as the main source of energy for cooking, and kerosene for lighting their homes, when they can afford it. This means often schoolchildren cannot study after dark, and when they do, they get stinging eyes and coughs because of the kerosene smoke.

We provide solar lights to subsistence farmers in Zeze village and beyond, enabling children to study after dark in a smokeless environment. Families will be able to spend the money they save on kerosene on more nutritious food for their children and to start small businesses as a route out of their current extreme poverty.

We are also manufacture improved clay stoves, which require 50% less firewood. Together with our other strategies, these will hopefully reduce carbon production and deforestation to allow sustainable growth.

Tanzania development Trust

We proudly work with the Tanzania Development Trust on various projects. MVG’s founder Benedicto is a local representative of TDT, and they strongly support our environmental work. You can purchase trees for us to plant directly from their shop!

1% for the Planet

In 2021 we were very proud to announce that we became official non-profit partners of 1% for the planet! 

We are dedicated to taking action to ensure our planet and future generations thrive, and are so excited to join this incredible solution-driven, inspiring and global organisation!

Together, we can truly make a difference.

Climate Stewards

We were very grateful to Climate Stewards who, in 2020, funded us to plant 13,000 trees near the MVG site and at Zeze Secondary School.

These were a combination of 3 native trees, Msave, Mgoti and Muyovu, plus Avocado for producing fruit for nutrition and income generation.