Addis Ababa February 9, 2017 A million trees are to be planted in Ethiopia to fight deforestation around camps hosting hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees.
The trees would be planted on 150 hectares of land in Gambella Regional State to meet the growing refugee population's demand for energy, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
Almost 300,000 people, mostly women and children, have found shelter in Ethiopia since conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013.
Fires used by the refugees for cooking are fuelled almost entirely by chopped wood, putting considerable pressure on local forests, Reuters quoted FAO energy and forestry expert Arturo Gianvenuti as saying.
The depletion of forests risks creating tensions with local communities and disrupting the ecosystem as trees stabilize the climate, regulate water flows and provide shelter to numerous animal species, it was indicated.
It also exposes refugee women to the risk of sexual abuse as they have to walk long distances in isolated areas to fetch firewood, the expert noted.
To address some of these issues, FAO plans to set up nurseries for fast-growing trees, like Leucaena and Eucalyptus, to supply refugees from four camps in Gambella with wood, he further pointed out.
According to Gianvenuti, FAO and U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) have also agreed to monitor deforestation with high resolution satellite images and train local craftsmen to produce energy-saving clay stoves that would cut wood consumption by up to 25 percent.