UNDP launches tree planting campaign to help preserve the environment and improve livelihoods for youth in border communities of Sokoto and Katsina States
Young people in the border communities of Ilela and Jibia in Sokoto and Katsina States, under the Sahel Youth Ecobrigade Greening for Peace Project, have embarked on a tree-planting campaign to increase youth participation in climate resilience efforts and improve livelihoods while addressing issues of environmental conservation. The programme also offers an innovative dimension and offers education to participating youth on the dangers of illicit trafficking of Small Arms and Light weapons for a peaceful society through the ‘’Yes to Greening, No to Illicit Arms trafficking Campaign’’.
The Sahel Youth Ecobrigade project is part of UNDP Youth Offer, an initiative of the UNDP Regional Hub for West and Central Africa, that seeks to preserve the environment and create green job opportunities for youth in response to climate resilience issues, among other youth empowerment challenges.
The impact of the COVID-19 and its resultant border closures and movement restrictions have negatively disrupted the socio-economic sector for young people which has already been made vulnerable by conflict. Therefore, UNDP is engaging young people in these border communities not only in terms of giving them a voice in the development discourse but also as active participants in fostering social cohesion and maintaining long-term peace.
Fifty (50) youth were selected in both Ilela and Jibia border communities through volunteerism, trained as Youth Ambassadors to plant and care for the tree seedlings, and will be paid a monthly stipend for a period of six months to improve their livelihood while taking care of the trees. At least 1000 tree seedlings were planted at selected locations provided by the Local Government Authorities (LGA) of Ilela and Jiba which includes shcools and border areas with the Niger republic.
Farida Garba, a Youth Ambassador from Ilela LGA shared, “This planting project will assist people, both women, and men who are jobless and have no means of livelihood. The monthly stipend will help me to take care of my personal needs. We are also asking for support from the security agencies to assist us whenever we come to report to them about security issues we are facing.”
According to Awal Mohammed, a Youth Ambassador in Jibia LGA, “Our community has been struggling with environmental and climate issues. These trees will help to serve as shades and windbreakers for the buildings. Before this intervention, most of us were jobless, so the stipend for taking care of the trees will help improve our livelihood .”
Speaking about the project, Vice-Chairman of Ilela LGA, Ibrahim Magaji said:
“The youth will learn about local environmental issues and how tree planting help to mitigate issues, such as climate change and insecurity across our border areas. When they come to care for the trees, they will also see what is going on in the border areas and report any illegal activities to the security officials and the responsible agencies.”
The project aims to mobilize and engage over 200,000 youth to participate in the tree planting exercise and other greening activities including championing youth ambassadors for peace through volunteerism across the Sahel Countries. This pilot phase of the tree-planting campaign will target cross-border communities between Nigeria, Niger,and Burkina Faso.
Jonathan Madaki, UNDP Nigeria Programme Analyst reflected that: “This initiative is supporting the cross-border peace process by building the capacity of the selected Youth Ambassadors on greening activities to promote climate resilience, afforestation, improve livelihoods and sensitize them on the dangers of illicit trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons across the border communities. It is UNDP’s hope that this programme will contribute to creating a safer and more accessible environment where no one is left behind”.