The droughts and flash-flooding that the Horn of Africa is currently experiencing are occurring due in large part to changing climate patterns, but they are also exacerbated by another problem: deforestation, which has been going on for decades throughout the region.
According to research conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), forests serve as a crucial form of defense against poverty, providing about a quarter of household income for people who live in or near them. Forests also help to retain rain water, produce oxygen, keep soils fertile, and reduce pollution.
Yet more than 18 million acres of forest are lost each year, resulting in both regional and global problems. Millions, if not billions, of trees are lost due to construction, mining, agriculture, meat production, and forest fires. To make the problem even worse, industrialized nations consume more than half of the world’s lumber, leaving developing nations to bear the brunt of the effects with fewer of the benefits.
Combine deforestation with climate change, population growth, oceanic pollution, and overconsumption, and the results are devastating all over the world. But in regions like the Horn of Africa, where drought and poverty have hindered progress for decades, the situation is even worse.
It would be wise to recognize that this is not a situation that can be fixed in a day, or even in a decade. Fortunately, some governments in the region have recognized the importance of reforestation programs. In Niger, reforestation projects have turned barren land into agroforests; in Ethiopia, a similar program has restored over 2,700 hectares of land. Through initiatives like these, we find a glimmer of hope for the region.
ARAHA is striving to help combat deforestation in the Horn through our self-reliance projects, which provide nomads with four goats, a pair of trees, and information on the importance of protecting the environment.
All of us has a small hand in making a difference, and this is how we, with your help, have chosen to begin.