Reforestation's Success: an update
Our reforestation project is making our gardener Bary’s dream a reality: to live in the sea of green in Fiadanana, surrounded by trees he can leave as a legacy for his children.
Most of the trees planted under the guidance of Zahana's gardeners have been growing well and seem to be strong. By now many are big enough to survive without being watered or tended to. Our team in Madagascar reported to us laughingly, that the best part is the villager’s amazement at themselves. Everybody is really surprised that reforestation works so well, despite the fact that all of them are farmers and work the land every day. In every meeting they mention the astonishing fact that planting new trees is indeed possible. In a rather barren landscape, dotted with few trees, it is one of our proudest and most visible achievements, really showing how participatory development can change the physical landscape. Instead of only cutting down trees as they have in the past (and still do in other places), people are now planting their future firewood. Our team in Madagascar said: “if you have to summarize our project in English the slogan ‘yes we can’ is most fitting”.
On a meta, or a broader political level, Zahana's impact is becoming far-reaching. Attending the inauguration of our health center, a few months ago, the brother of Madagascar's president and his wife visited our villages. Impressed by the clean water system, our schools, but most of all by seeing the planted trees, he keeps on calling our founder Dr. Ihanta on the phone, asking how she and Zahana achieved what we did. Since he has great passion for development work, he is aware that despite good intentions, many development initiatives run out of steam after one, two or three years. He expressed repeatedly that he was most impressed that Zahana is still going strong in its 8th year and seems to be increasing its impact every year. Not only is this a validation for us that our participatory development approach is indeed working, but it also shows that our results speak for themselves, and that two small villages in the middle of the high plateau of Madagascar can have a far-reaching impact.
Last but not least: Our gardeners continue, and always will, growing tree seedlings. Seedlings are distributed for free to support community and individual reforestation efforts. After all, this an ongoing, truly renewable program.