The first project that PaganAid will fund is in the drylands of Africa.
Straddling the edge of the Sahara desert, the Sahel region is the epicentre of global poverty. This poverty limits the choices of poor people and they are often forced to over-exploit their environment simply to survive. Deforestation and climate change has led to the desert encroaching further into the remaining farmland, increasing poverty and vulnerability.
Our programme will help to end this cycle of poverty and environmental decline by supporting poor, rural families to use trees for food, health and income. They will be shown how to protect their remaining trees and trained in growing new ones. Avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ solution, we will help the most disadvantaged groups depending on their needs. Women, who are traditionally dependent on their husbands for money, will be trained in producing and selling tree products, such as shea nut butter or forest honey. They will learn how to run an enterprise, earning a sustainable income, which they will be able to spend on food, education for their children, and healthcare. They will be able to progress from living in a constant state of emergency to being able to care for their environment and be the protectors of their forests.
To deliver this work, we are delighted to work in partnership with TREE AID, a charity registered in the UK and working with rural families in the drylands of Africa.
One of the beneficiaries of a similar project run by TREE AID is Jalia Dimmie. Jalia lives in northern Ghana. Because she is a woman from a poor family, she never went to school and so cannot read or write. For half of the year Jalia struggled to feed her family more than one meal a day. TREE AID started working with her and taught her how to make shea nut butter. She set up an enterprise in a cooperative with other women to sell the shea butter at market. Not only was this a great support base for Jalia, but working together also meant that they could pool their resources and their business was very successful. She now employs an elderly woman in her village who was too frail to work in the fields. Her family now eats three meals a day all year round. All of her children are enrolled in school and one is even studying at university. They can all afford healthcare and her life has completely changed. She wants to plant many more shea trees so that her business is sustainable.
Jalia said “Before TREE AID came, there was a lot of suffering. Now our lives have changed. We are no longer just surviving, but living”.
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