Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, on the shores of Lake Victoria. It has a population of over 45 million, over 20% of whom live in the vicinity of the capital, Kampala. The population of Uganda has exploded from around 5 million in 1950, and remains relatively very young – with just under 70% of the population under the age of 25.
The area surrounding Mount Elgon in the Eastern part of the country is heavily degraded due to deforestation and over-cultivation. The relatively high population in the area puts a strain on the land, leaving it almost bare, due to degradation from animal grazing, tree-cutting for fuel wood, and heavy mono-cropping of specific crops like bananas and coffee. The degraded land has also led to deadly landslides in the area which pose an acute safety risk to the nearby populations.
This land degradation arises as a direct clash between existing, damaging farming practices like monocultures (which exist often because they were historically imposed on the areas by colonial powers), and the wellbeing and needs of the local people and ecosystems.
This project involves the establishment of 400 Forest Gardens in the Mount Elgon region in Eastern Uganda. Each Forest Gardens is approximately one hectare each in size, and local farmers are supported and trained to establish and look after their Forest Gardens over a period of 4 years.
Over the 4-year programme, the farmers learn to diversify their Forest Garden with vegetables and fruit trees to support the families nutritionally and financially. This methodology helps farmers to learn about conservation, earn more income through selling their fruits and vegetables, and also grow fond and proud of the Forest Garden they have created.