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ERITREA: Tree planting initiative creates jobs

Salesian project empowers 40 women to earn a living

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries, with the support of the Salesian International Volunteering for Development (VIS), are committed to helping Eritrea’s reforestation process. A recent grant to VIS from the headquarters of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation will provide funding to plant 2,000 native trees on one hectare of land in the Dekemhare area. Olive trees, pines, acacias and other local plants will be used. The initiative is also seeking private donors so more trees can be planted.

Eritrea, like all Sub-Saharan African countries, is suffering the consequences of climate change in addition to water scarcity, which is leading to desertification. The advance of the desert is aggravated by deforestation practices. In response, the Eritrean Ministry of Agriculture has established that 200,000 hectares of territory must be dedicated to reforestation.

One Salesian missionary noted, “The goal is not only to plant trees, but to help the soil regenerate, conserve water, preserve habitats for local fauna, and develop rules and criteria for proper management. The entire Eritrean population, including high school students, local communities, adults and the elderly, have been called on to participate in this initiative. Several local communities have started projects aimed at protecting the environment including our VIS volunteers.”

The government’s goal is to reach 10% reforestation by 2027 across the country. Eritrea has joined the “Great Green Wall” initiative to plant trees on the borders of the Sahara and prevent desertification, which will serve to stop the emission of 250 million tons of CO2.

The Salesian project is also engaging 40 women selected from among those living in vulnerable conditions, including unemployed and/or single women leading their family as well as victims of violence and discrimination. Each woman will receive basic training for environmental care, gardening and reforestation activities and will be provided with tools and other useful materials for their work. The women will be paid for their work, allowing them to be able to earn an income to help support their families.

Eritrea has a population of approximately 5.5 million, of which 69% is estimated to live in poverty, according to the World Bank. The small country has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world. While agriculture contributes only 13% to the country’s economy, it employs nearly 80% of the population. Only 12% of the total land is suitable for farming because of Eritrea’s rocky and mountainous terrain, and in part, due to the persistent drought which impacts much of the remaining landscape.



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ANS – Eritrea – Salesians and VIS on the front line against desertification

Salesian Missions

World Bank – Eritrea

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