ATEI launches tree planting campaign in Karamoja

In a remarkable proactive green revolution campaign, Africa Tourism & Environment Initiatives (ATEI) has begun a collaboration between the church and Uganda Cashewnut Value Chain, a transformative campaign dubbed Pet A Tree-Greening Karamoja.

The campaign is a result of the proceeds from the Climate Change awareness marathon that aims not only to combat environmental challenges but also to foster a deep connection between the local communities and their natural surroundings.

This groundbreaking partnership began with different entities participating in the annual Climate Change Awareness Marathon including UNDP, UN Women, UNATCOM, Care International, Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Forestry Authority, Simba Group, Ngamba Chimpazee Sanctuary, NSSF and Uganda Museum.

A team from ATEI after sensitizing the community from Kautakou village about sustainable tree planting.

Rt Rev Joseph Abura the Bishop of Karamoja Diocese welcomed this campaign in his words, ‘We welcome this campaign whole heartedly coupled with the ingenuity of viewing trees as cherished companions. This will rejuvenate Karamoja's livelihoods and landscapes amidst the backdrop of changing weather patterns.’’

Karamoja, a semi-arid region located in northeastern Uganda, has been grappling with environmental degradation for decades. Deforestation, unsustainable land use practices, and erratic weather patterns have contributed to soil erosion and reduced agricultural productivity.

Recognizing the urgency of addressing these issues, Africa Tourism & Environment Initiatives (ATEI) and its partners have joined hands with the church and Uganda Cashew nut Value Chain to embark on a mission that goes beyond traditional environmental conservation.

The concept of treating trees as companions emerged from a collective brainstorming session. By encouraging the community to "Pet A Tree," the initiative seeks to instill a sense of responsibility, care, and guardianship towards the green companions that contribute to the health and well-being of planting and taking care of over 20,000 trees annually in the region.

This novel approach taps into the innate human connection with nature, fostering a mindset change that transcends the challenges posed by unpredictable weather conditions.

"We believe that greening Karamoja with a high yielding crop like Cashew nuts will be good for both the Karamoja environment as well as their livelihoods," Dickson Kyabasita the Executive Director Uganda Cashew nut value chain narrates.

Over the past two decades, the region has experienced a staggering loss of forest cover, estimated at nearly 30%. This loss has led to soil erosion, reduced water retention, and disrupted local ecosystems.

Furthermore, the erratic climate patterns have resulted in prolonged droughts, impacting agricultural yields and livelihoods.

According to Amumpaire Bismac Moses, the Executive director Africa Tourism and Environment Initiatives, this is a mindset change campaign that will work with Karamojong, the church and other development partners."

‘This Pet a Tree campaign with planting Cashewnuts is currently in Karamoja and Rwenzori sub region but is meant to be a nationwide campaign in different intervals. We call upon the puclic and other development partners to support this drive’

The Pet A Tree-Greening Karamoja campaign marks a pivotal turning point in the region's trajectory. Rather than succumbing to despair, the initiative embraces a proactive and empowering approach.

Joseph Abura, Bishop Karamoja diocese planting the first cashew nut seedling during the launch

By involving local churches and communities, ATEI and Uganda Cashewnut Value Chain aim to drive a green revolution that is rooted in the collective consciousness of the Karamajong people.

The campaign's central tenet is to view trees as companions, akin to pets, deserving of care and attention. This innovative perspective of ATEI encourages individuals to take charge of nurturing trees, irrespective of weather conditions.

The strategy aligns perfectly with the principles of sustainable development, as it not only addresses environmental concerns but also fosters community cohesion, improved livelihoods and resilience.

In a ceremonial act, Sarah Kenyana Rusoke was crowned Infront of congregation as the Pet A Tree Ambassador, a role she has taken on to representing the values of nurturing and safeguarding the environment through pushing the green revolution in Uganda.

Miss Rusoke's involvement highlights the integration of cultural appreciation, tourism, and sustainable practices in the region.

The presence of Miss Tourism Karamoja came in as a a symbol of regional pride and aspiration, at the launch of the campaign underscores the significance of the initiative.

The Pet A Tree-Greening Karamoja initiative exemplifies the potential of collaboration, innovation, and community engagement in tackling pressing environmental issues.

"As Karamoja continues to take steps towards a greener future, we acknowledge all existing efforts and those more to come, and hence call upon everyone to support and guide this green revolution for a more sustainable planet,’’ said Amumpaire Bismac Moses, team leader ATEI.

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