Trees in ‘green’ Cameroon refugee camp, bring shade and relief from ‘helter-skelter’ of life

© UNHCR/Xavier Bourgois Cameroon. Minawao, the green refugee camp. (January 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The land is sandy, dry and scorched by the searing sun of the African Sahel, but that has not stopped the planting of some 50,000 trees at a camp for Nigerian refugees in the far north-east corner of Cameroon.

Small trees, including neem, acacia, moringa, leucaena and moringa, dot the landscape of the Minawao camp where some 56,000 Nigerians have sought shelter from violence in their homeland. They have escaped the terror and brutal treatment meted out by the outlawed Boko Haram extremist group which has been attacking villages along the border with Cameroon for over a decade.

As in all refugee camps, life can be tough, but the residents of Minawao told UN News during a visit to the camp in February, that they have been working to plant trees in order to create a greener and more environmentally-friendly camp.

“When there are no trees,” explained refugee representative Luka Isaac, “you can’t rest, you have to run around helter-skelter looking for shade in order to relax.”

When the refugees started arriving in Minawao in May 2013, some 30 kilometers from the Nigerian border, the local environment bore the full force of their presence. “Most people thought they would be here for just two or three months,”

“So, they ripped up trees for firewood and left nothing but sand and rocks,” Luka Isaac told UN News.

Deforestation

The uprooting of trees in Minawao is a part of a wider problem of deforestation in north-east Cameroon, where the fragile landscape has been degraded by unsustainable cultivation practices and rising temperatures caused by global warming.

The arrival of close to 60,000 extra people has also put a huge pressure on a region where natural resources are scarce and desertification is already under way.

‘Make Minawao green again’

The “Make Minawao green again” project aims to reverse deforestation both in the camp and surrounding villages.  The project led by Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has so far planted 50,000 trees over a 600 hectare area; it is hoped that an additional 5000 trees will be planted every year. Some are planned in groves, others are located in front of dwellings.

The different species of trees have been chosen for a number of reasons, according to LWF’s Luc Pemha. “They are mostly very quick to grow,” he said “When they are mature some can provide firewood, others, like neem, have medicinal properties. We are hoping also in the future to plant fruit trees which will provide food.”

Across Minawao camp, the inhabitants are able to find shade and a respite from the midday sun under small trees planted just two years ago. Smaller saplings are protected by netting or the thorny branches of the acacia tree. “The people who live here and in the surrounding villages have seen the difference the trees can make to everyday life,” said Mr. Pemha, “so they respect them and allow them to grow.”

UNHCR, which runs the camp, has one eye on the present and one on the future. “It’s important that we create a sustainable environment which benefits both host and refugee communities,” said Fanta Nifaboum, the agency’s deputy chief in Maroua, Cameroon. “And when the refugees ultimately return home, they will leave behind a greener and more developed village.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

State aid: Commission invites interested parties to provide comments on proposed draft Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid Guidelines

Parliament gives green light to EU-Singapore trade and investment protection deals

COVID 19 Vaccine: A new terror or a savior for mankind?

Cyprus President urges collective leadership to address ‘root causes’ of world’s crises

EU Budget 2021 approved: supporting the recovery

Obama turns the G20 summit into warmongering platform

This is how many people are forcibly displaced worldwide

EU food watchdog: more transparency, better risk prevention

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 9 April

Smart toys: Your child’s best friend or a creepy surveillance tool?

Draghi will not hesitate to zero ECB’s basic interest rate

Biggest London City Banks ready to move core European operations to Frankfurt or Dublin?

Ukraine: EU report notes continued implementation of the reform agenda though challenges remain

EU: Turkey to shelter Syrian refugees and turn other immigrants back in return of €3 billion

UN working to prevent attacks on civilians in eastern DR Congo

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Cows, coffee and sustainable farming

The world invested almost $2 trillion in energy last year. These 3 charts show where it went

Anti-vaccers: does the empty can rattle the most?

EU consumers will soon be able to defend their rights collectively

Could robot leaders do better than our current politicians?

MWC 2016 LIVE: Industry looks to reduce mobile gender gap

Why education and accountability are important for developing countries?

The metamorphosis of the categorical imperative in medical students

How should cities prepare for self-driving cars? Here’s a roadmap

EU fight against tax-evasion and money laundering blocked by Britain

UN chief welcomes Taliban’s temporary truce announcement, encourages all parties to embrace ‘Afghan-owned peace’

Although Greece is struggling to pay salaries and pensions Varoufakis is “optimistic”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015

Coronavirus Global Response: EIB and Commission pledge additional €4.9 billion

Industry 4.0: Championing Europe’s fourth industrial revolution

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

France: New labour laws for more competitiveness

EU adopts rebalancing measures in reaction to US steel and aluminium tariffs

Employment and Social Developments in Europe: 2018 review confirms positive trends but highlights challenges, in particular linked to automation and digitalisation

The more we learn about Antarctica, the greater the urgency to act on climate change

Dare to be vulnerable, and three other lessons in leadership

Lorenzo Natali Media Prize 2019: winners of EU’s development journalism award unveiled

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

Switzerland to introduce strict restrictions on executive pay

Ahead of State of the Union the European Youth Forum highlights lack of action on youth employment

The Challenger Within – Mental Health In Romania During Lockdown

10 ways COVID-19 could reshape offices

Why salaries could finally be on the way up

Problems Faced by Young Doctors and What We Can Do About Them

How big data can help us fight climate change faster

Hydrogen power is here to stay. How do we convince the public that it’s safe?

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €6 billion to support refugees and local communities in need fully mobilised

Promoting Health in the Brazilian Amazon: one nation but many cultures

Here’s what happened when a charity gave $1,000 each to poor households in Kenya

Will Cameron succeed in keeping UK inside the EU and reverse the present economic downturn?

Armenia should take vigorous measures against entrenched corruption

State aid: Commission approves €1.25 billion German measure to recapitalise TUI

How Britain’s backyard bird feeders are shaping evolution

The EU responds to US challenges by fining Apple with €13 billion

Only international actions can settle the world’s ‘enormous and diverse cross-border challenges’, Qatar tells UN Assembly

Questions & Answers on vaccine negotiations

Brain drain 2017: why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

Investment and Financing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): EU and Chinese stakeholders share their views at European Business Summit 2018

World Malaria Day: 7 things to know about the deadly disease

Systems leadership can change the world – but what exactly is it?

Commission launches open access publishing platform for scientific papers

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s