Adama Diémé, a 48-year-old project manager and agricultural trainer in southern Senegal, is on a mission to plant five million trees in the region over the next five years, while also empowering local women to become small-scale farmers.
Sustainability news: When Adama Diémé returned to his home in the Casamance region of southern Senegal after working in Europe, he was struck by the absence of the vast trees that once dominated the landscape. Determined to reverse the trend of deforestation, he set a bold goal to plant five million trees in the region over the next five years.
Deforestation in the Casamance region can primarily be attributed to the need for construction materials and charcoal production. Diémé, who works as a project manager for a Spanish NGO in Casamance and volunteers as an agricultural trainer, decided to use his skills and resources to change this situation. He invested $5,000 of his own money to initiate the project, which he named Ununukolaal, meaning “Our Trees” in the local Jola language.
Recognizing the importance of community involvement and the potential of women’s organizational skills, Diémé focused on engaging with local women, who he believes are key to the success of his project. By providing them with the knowledge and skills to become small-scale farmers, Diémé has not only mobilized them for his tree planting initiative but also helped them become financially independent.
Over the past three years, more than 142,000 seedlings have been planted and nurtured under Diémé’s project. A variety of trees, including palms, tamarinds, kapoks, and lemon trees, are being planted to meet the specific needs of the communities and adapt to the terrain. Although there is still a long way to go to achieve the goal of five million trees, Diémé and his partner Yolanda Pereñiguez remain undaunted.
Pereñiguez, a tailor, has played a crucial role in raising funds for the project by designing and selling T-shirts adorned with a baobab tree symbol, which is regarded as the emblem of African trees. Each T-shirt, primarily sold abroad for $15, can fund 15 tree seedlings. Pereñiguez and her colleague Raymonde Coly work in a small workshop with two sewing machines, creating the T-shirts from local cloth.
In some areas of the Casamance region, rising water levels pose a severe threat to local homes, forcing residents to consider relocation. As part of Diémé’s project, baobab trees are being planted along shorelines to serve as natural barriers, providing a glimmer of hope to the affected communities.
Diémé’s ambitious tree-planting project, combined with his efforts to empower local women through small-scale farming, highlights the importance of grassroots initiatives in promoting sustainability and addressing environmental challenges. As the world grapples with deforestation and its effects on climate change, stories like Diémé’s offer inspiration and a blueprint for community-driven action to create a more sustainable future.
You can donate to the cause via their GoFundMe page.