FEBRUARY is popularly referred as the month of love owing to its hosting Valentine Day. The case might be different for Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Zimbabwe. February can be christened the month of climate change mitigation.
The second week of February started on a high note with the refugee community in the camp joining hands with Refugee Child’s Coalition for Climate Change (RCCA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other development partners such as Terres Des Hommes, World Vision and many more in fighting climate change.
UNHCR and the development partners donated 190 fruits trees namely avocado, mango, orange, and lemon to RCCA which are being planted in the camp. RCCA coordinated the activity.
On Monday, February 13 the tree planting exercise was launched in the camp. The Camp Administrator, Mr Johanne Mhlanga, with staff from UNHCR namely; Rumbi and Tinashe Chitate as well as Sharon, Emily and Emmanuel from Terres Des Hommes (TDH) were in attendance.
Areas which surround religious buildings were the first to be considered for planting. The exercise has continued today (Wednesday, February 15) and shall be completed on Friday, February 17.
“We raise awareness within the refugee community on the need to preserve the environment which is very critical. We have been witnessing a number of trees being cut down but we make sure that we help people to see the need for adopting a family-centered approach in addressing climate change. As a result, we allocate each and every family a tree to plant and hope that this will impact positively on climate change mitigation, ” he said.
Mr Mhlanga went on to say that the church should, among other things, preach the word of preserving the environment.
“The environment shall survive well if the church leads in educating the community and in planting trees,” he added.
Rumbi from UNHCR said caring for the environment is very important. She discouraged people from polluting the environment.
“We have seen a lot of littering in the camp but it is very important if the community could learn to discard litter properly. Some matter can be burned safely and the other can be composed. It’s vital if we can create composers and control our litter.
“As UNHCR, we shall contribute whenever RCCA is planting trees so that we make our environment green and promote climate friendly practices.
“We discourage residents from using energy that emits smoke and adds towards climate change. We urge the use of energy that is environmental friendly,” she said.
Emily from TDH said that the community needs to be persuaded to take care of the environment at home level.
“We urge the families to plant fruits trees which will be useful in adding more nutrition for children as well as the adults. Shade trees will help in providing shade for Tongogara citizens since the area is quite hot,” she said.
Emily went further to say that as TDH they have been encouraging groups they are working with specially schools to plant trees.
Emily, being an education officer herself, said that she encourages schools to plant trees within their schools so that they can act as barriers to the wind.
“The Lowveld experience a problem of strong winds and Tongogara is also on the receiving side. We are encouraging our schools to plant trees so to keep our infrastructures safe from the wind at ECD, primary school, secondary school, and even at the distribution point because they provide shade for our clients and as well protect the infrastructure which are there.
“The issues of cutting down trees without replacing them when making charcoal should be discouraged. When we cut a tree today, we are failing our children, grandchildren and even ourselves since it promotes climate change. This message needs to be spread in the camp and host communities so that people can be involved in re-afforestation,” she added.