Planting trees of life

For Aaden* and his fellow villagers, climate change isn’t just a vague concept, it’s a harsh reality that impacts their lives in devastating ways.

Aaden is a 45-year-old farmer from the Hargeisa region of Somaliland. He is part of a community who are learning that the solutions to environmental problems can come from within themselves.

Catastrophic Aaden remembers how, as a child, the climate wasn’t a problem: ‘We experienced drought rarely, and my family had a large herd of livestock,’ he recalls. But now periods of drought are far more frequent, making it almost impossible for him to keep livestock or grow enough food.

This dramatic change is due in part to a massive increase in charcoal production, which has had a catastrophic effect on the environment and livelihoods. ‘Many people became involved in charcoal production,’ Aaden explains. ‘This resulted in increased levels of deforestation, causing land degradation, soil erosion and a reduction in rainfall – ultimately leading to severe recurring droughts.’

However, thanks to Tearfund partner World Relief, the situation is starting to turn around. World Relief have been training the leaders in Aaden’s village in community mobilisation, environmental conservation and disaster risk reduction, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to take matters into their own hands.

Healing the land Now Aaden’s whole village have rallied around the cause, enforcing laws that ban charcoal production and trade. ‘We ensure no tree is felled, and if you have to cut a tree, you plant five first,’ Aaden says. ‘As a community, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve our environment.’

Filled with hope as he points to some newly planted trees, Aaden remarks: ‘You can see our environment is slowly healing from the calamity of deforestation. This will help reverse the weather patterns, so that we can again have large herds of livestock and farm to produce enough to eat and sell.’

‘Our village serves as a good example of the success that comes from initiatives that are community led,’ Aaden says. ‘We just wish to continue working together with Tearfund to restore the environment for our children and grandchildren.’

*Name changed to protect identity

  • Praise God for the transformation that has taken place in Aaden’s village and pray that it will continue.
  • Pray that more communities in Somaliland will come to develop a positive relationship with the environment.
  • Pray that the damage done to the environment in this part of the world will be reversed and that the increased prevalence of droughts will come to an end.