Trees for life in Chad
By planting trees in Chad, a BMS World Mission eco-project is helping to resist desertification and improve people’s lives.
A tree-planting project at a hospital in Chad will help to improve the quality of life for people enduring harsh conditions on the edge of the Sahara desert.
BMS health workers Mark and Andrea Hotchkin are leading the scheme, which will see a total of 150 neem trees – specially selected to cope with the extreme climate – to be planted at Guinebor II Hospital, on the outskirts of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
The hospital lies in the Sahel belt on the edge of the divide between what the French colonists indelicately termed Chad ‘inutile’ (‘useless’), which is the Sahara desert to the north, and Chad ‘utile’ (‘useful’), which is the more fertile south.
The population across the whole of the Sahel suffer from chronic food insecurity and planting the trees at Guinebor II will contribute towards the international attempts to resist desertification.
They will also provide a physical boundary to the plot which deters potentially dangerous heavy traffic from crossing the hospital land.
Some of the trees will eventually give shade for those in the village area where relatives are able to live whilst helping family members undergoing hospital treatment. Temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius in the shade are not unusual in the hot season.
Four foot-high turrets of bricks are being erected around each sapling for the first few years to prevent goats, camels and cows from destroying the new growth. When the trees are big enough, the bricks will be removed and re-used in planting further trees.
Neem trees (part of the mahogany family) are able to thrive in the hot, dry conditions because their roots extend deep into the sand and soil until they reach the water table. Their leaves can also be used in the manufacture of certain pharmaceuticals.
Building bricks around the neem tree saplings
Despite the expense of fostering the trees, there is a hope that market incentives will encourage further Chadian tree planting and protection.
Through this project, Guinebor II Hospital is able to realise various developmental advantages and play a small part in preserving the livelihood of those who live on the edge of existence in Chad.Back