Tag Archives: Reforestation

Dealing With Drought in Haiti


Fonds Verrettes Watershed

This week flooding and storms were again in the news as Fiji was struck by a devastating cyclone, destroying crops and communities and spurring calls for emergency humanitarian relief.

While emergency relief is important and needed, slower-moving disasters often pass unnoticed. This is most apparent in Haiti, where more than a year of persistent drought has lead to failing harvests and amounting hunger. The UN recently reported that more that 60 percent of Haiti’s spring harvest will fail this year, and that more than four million people will lack access to affordable and nutritious food.

For some areas of the country, the drought has been even worse, spanning over five years and resulting in the most severe food insecurity in the last thirty years. These highly impacted areas include virtually all of the communities in which Plant With Purpose works. As a result of the El Nino weather pattern the drought conditions are predicted to continue through 2016.


Cistern Construction in Fonds Verrettes, Haiti

How is Plant With Purpose responding? As difficult as the current conditions are, they are yet another confirmation of Plant With Purpose’s strategy of helping farmers diversify their crops and sources of income, so that they are less vulnerable to droughts, floods, and other natural disasters. The cash savings that farmers accumulate in Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) serve as a vitally important safety net, enabling farmers accumulate the savings needed to buy food when they need to.

These savings groups also teach farmers skills that will help them maintain adequate food in low-water conditions, including raising rabbits, planting more drought-resistant crops, composting, and soil conservation. Tree planting is another important component in this strategy, as healthy watersheds are needed to avoid flooding and help capture water in the ground where it can feed the wells and rivers which people depend on. These strategies are paying off in Haiti, where farmers reported a 26 percent reduction in the time spent walking to get water for their families.


Finally, Plant With Purpose has made some program adjustments this year that will help farmers cope with future droughts, including increasing the number of family cisterns being built to provide water through times of drought. While we can’t control the weather we can anticipate times of drought and collaborate with farmers to help them prepare. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside hard-working farmers, even as we pray for the drought to end.



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New Video Highlighting Tree Planting on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro

I had the opportunity to visit Plant With Purpose’s Tanzania programs last January with the amazing videographer Shaun Boyte, who produced this video for us. It does a great job of portraying the positive impact that tree planting has on the lives of farmers and on the environment. We heard many farmers say that since they had been planting trees, rainfall had increased and the weather was cooler than in the past. This local deforestation has been strongly linked to the melting glaciers on Kilimanjaro. If the the local farmers’ efforts are multiplied, it seems very possible that the melting could be reversed.

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Wings of Kilimanjaro- Set to Launch again

Our good friends at Wings of Kilimanjaro (WOK) are starting up the mountain for a third round of paragliding and fundraising for Tanzanian charities. I had the privilege of joining them in 2013 and had a really fantastic time, summiting along with 95 others from more than 20 countries. In the process we raised over $600,000 for reforestation, water and education projects in Tanzania.

This year’s climb and flight will benefit WorldServe’s water projects, providing clean water to Masai communities in northern Tanzania. You can learn more about the project and donate here. Congratulations and best of luck to organizer Adrian McRae and everyone participating in WOK 2015!


Climbers and porters moving up the mountain

WOK 2013 supported tree nurseries like this one, at a local Tanzanian school, and helped us plant hundreds of thousands of trees

WOK 2013 supported tree nurseries like this one, at a local Tanzanian school, and helped us plant hundreds of thousands of trees

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A celebration of hope in Tanzania

I had the opportunity to visit Plant With Purpose’s program the Pare mountsins of Tanzania a few months ago to participate the third annual Village Savings and Loan (VSLA) Competition Celebration. The event was the culmination of a year long competition, where 125 VSLA groups competed in tree planting, adoption of organic farming methods such as composting and pest management.

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Groups arriving for the celebration

We’re in the process of putting together a video of the celebration, but I thought I’d post a few pictures. It was a joyful and inspiring day, especially encouraging to hear farmers talk about how they were learning from each other, the impact on their farms, and their hopes to do even more in the coming year. (Photo credit to Shaun Boyte.)

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Plant With Purpose’s team of agronomists, with prizes for the winners

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Sharing knowledge and vegetables

PWP_Tanzania Day_2-174Victory!

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Tanzania Program Update- Great News from East Africa

So it’s been more than a little while since I’ve updated the blog, but I thought you might be interested some recent Plant With Purpose developments, especially in Tanzania. The program has seen some fantastic growth in the last several years, in terms of the program’s activities, and also the measurable impact on people’s lives and the environment. First of all, take a  look at this amazing graph:

Tanzania program growth graph

This graph illustrates three key things: the number of families we’re working with, the number of trees planted, and the number of Village Savings and Loan (VSL) groups that we are leading. The years across the bottom of the chart give you some idea of how rapid the growth has been. This is a real credit to the leadership of the local staff in Tanzania, who are doing a great job of figuring out how to work very efficiently, so as to be able to do more with relatively modest increases in budget. (Just to give you an idea of the scale, Plant With Purpose has planted 12 million trees over the past 30 years, but 1.4 million of those were planted just in Tanzania in the last year- they are really leading the way in scaling up.)

But what about the impact of all those trees on people? In our very recently completed impact evaluation, we saw a 50% increase in girls enrollment in secondary school. Based on the size of our program, that equates to over 550 girls enrolled in school, who otherwise would not be. As families are increasing their incomes, they are prioritizing paying for their girls’ education. What a wonderful and hopeful sign for the future, for those girls, for their families, and for the country as a whole.

Trees TanzaniaThese girls are in school, thanks to the good work of our local program partners- and thanks to all of you who have supported our program and made our work possible! (And with a special shout out to our friends at Wings of Kilimanjaro, who gave so much to support our Tanzania program last year, and who at this moment are camped out of the summit waiting for good weather to fly down.)

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Tree Planting in Oaxaca: The Difference Four Years Makes

I have the privilege of being in Oaxaca this week with our group from Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. We participated in a variety of activities this week and I’ll be putting up a few posts. First I want to show you a couple reforestation pictures.

Oaxaca is the most deforested state in Mexico, and the Mixteca Alta region, where Plant With Purpose works, is the most deforested part of Oaxaca. The good news is that with the participation of the local community, things can really turn around. Take a look at these pictures of pine tree seedlings being planted and of those that were planted for years ago:


Our intrepid visiting tree planting team about to get to work


A Oaxacan Pine in it’s new home

After we were done planting these trees, one of the leaders of the local community of La Union, Don Nivel, wanted to show us a hillside that they planted four years ago. We were pretty amazed by what we saw:Image

A forest of 1,500 Four year old Oaxacan Pines: with Don Nivel and Eduardo, who leads Plant With Purpose’s reforestation work in Oaxaca.

Don Nivel led the effort to plant these 1,500 trees four years ago and was very proud to show them to us. As we walked through them we could see how the pine needles were building up on the ground. Bird nests in the trees were a sign that wildlife was returning. As we thought about the barren hillside where we had planted in the morning, this gave us a living example of what the future could look like in Oaxaca. The trees will also make a tremendous human impact as the control erosion which will increase crop yields and reduce water-borne illness by naturally filtering the water as it soaks into the ground.


Don Nivel pointing out a bird nest

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Photos from Fonds Verrettes, Haiti

I made two quick visits to Fonds Verrettes last week. It was very inspiring, as always, to meet the farmers there and hear how the community is moving forward together. Here are a couple of photos and short reflections.


Here’s where the trees go: Charcoal for sale at the Dominican border. It was sobering to see all the large  trucks coming down the mountainside filled with charcoal…

ImageYes, despite the first picture, trees in Haiti really can grow well! This man proudly showed us his very steep five acre farm, which included these trees. The trees are preventing erosion and increasing his crop yields. He was super happy to talk with us.


Free and fair elections: This savings group changed their meeting time so we could attend. They selected five new officers for the year, using pebbles to vote for their candidate. The whole process was taken very seriously, though they also had a good time.

ImageThe newly elected officers


We met this man, Monel, in the loan group. (as is often the case people take posed pictures very seriously…) When we asked him what he thought about Plant With Purpose’s work in the community, here’s how he responded:

“I am very happy that Plant With Purpose is in Fonds Verrettes. We have accomplished more in six years that we did in the previous eight years. We are grateful for your help in protecting our land. The work you have done before and after the earthquake isn’t just good- it’s wonderful! When I compare the consequences of the last two storms, I see much less damage, thanks to Plant With Purpose’s work. You have helped us learn how to make tree nurseries, composting, grafting, and working with animals. All these things have improved our economic condition. Your being here isn’t just a job, but is a calling from God, like a family, and like a medicine.”

ImageWe get to stay in the lodge in the Foret des pins above Fonds Verrettes. A very cool place to stay. One thing I learned last time I was there was that you can actually heat water in a plastic bottle right next to the fire, you just need to fill it all the way to the top.


The road in and out of Fonds Verrettes is memorable- here’s one section of it.

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