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Growing Healthy Communities World Health Day

How are gardens of ‘super trees’ helping to grow a healthier tomorrow in rural Burkina Faso?

The climate crisis is having a tangible impact on the health of the communities we work with in Africa's Sahel.

As of 2019, 239 million people in the region are malnourished, and in countries like Burkina Faso, hunger is a widespread issue, particularly during periods of flooding and drought.

One of the solutions to tackle this issue is growing nutritious trees in community owned gardens, and we have been seeing some incredible results. Read on to find out more about how this works and the impact they can have on people's lives.

Trees for a healthier tomorrow

Ensuring secure access to nutritious food is a core part of Tree Aid’s mission. Our projects aim to support the development of healthy, nutritious diets through the growing of trees in Africa’s drylands. 

Trees provide a solution. Our community-led projects are designed to provide people with the tools and training they need to grow tree products to eat and sell. We choose locally-adapted tree species which produce nutritious fruits, nuts, leaves and seeds, and which survive in climates where other crops cannot.

Planting trees which are both hardy and nutritious, means that communities can harvest stable supplies of food all year round, even when other crops fail in difficult conditions.

Putting nutrition at the heart of communities

Nutrition gardens are small communal village plots dedicated to cultivating fast-growing trees that produce leaves after just 3 months. Trees like moringa and baobab are highly nutritious and can be used fresh or dry for consumption and sale.

Growing at the heart of communities, these gardens are making nutritious tree products much more locally accessible than when they would otherwise have to be picked in the wild.  

Tree Aid’s projects help village groups plant moringa and baobab seedlings in small communal village plots, surrounded by living hedges. Nutrition gardens also help raise awareness of the dietary value of tree products, and develop knowledge on how to process these products for household consumption and sale. 


The magic of moringa

Introducing the miracle tree, moringa! Almost all parts of the moringa tree are edible, from leaves to roots. This fast growing marvel is highly resistant to drought, and packed with essential nutrients.

Did you know that just 100g of moringa leaves contain as much protein as an egg, calcium as a glass of milk, iron as a 200g beef steak, vitamin A as a carrot and vitamin C as an orange?

Miracle moringa's nutritious and edible leaves are ready to eat after just three months. Known as the ‘drought warrior’, this fast growing tree is a perfect tool to help communities maintain nutritious diets despite a changing climate. 

All of these factors make miracle moringa essential tree to plant our nutrition gardens in the dryland regions of West Africa.

“The nutrition garden helps me and my family a lot... moringa cures a lot of diseases, the leaves have elements that help our children and because of that we can do a lot of things. Moringa is a tree that is consumed from the leaves to the root – we don’t throw anything away”
Doli Tapsoba, Burkina Faso

Addressing the climate, nature and health crises together

So far, we have helped to create over 200 Nutrition Gardens across West Africa, and we plan to deliver nearly 300 more garden sites by 2024. The impact on communities so far has been incredible to see!

Since 2017, there has been an 8% reduction in undernourishment amongst those involved in Tree Aid’s nutrition garden projects, and a 42% reduction in the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under 5. Since our nutrition garden projects started, we’ve supported over 6,000 people to increase their dietary diversity in Burkina Faso.

With your support, we can work with even more communities to secure a healthy, sustainable future through the power of trees. Click the link below to find out how our latest Leaves For Livelihoods appeal will spread the miracle of moringa to even more communities across the Sahel.