UN agencies are working with South Sudanese refugees living in Ethiopia to fight deforestation around camps hosting them by planting trees in the country's western Gambella region. Elly Park reports.
Every day this South Sudanese refugee chops wood in the forests to bring back to her family. She and her six children depend on the firewood for cooking and boiling water just like hundreds of thousands of other South Sudanese refugees who live here in Gambella, Ethiopia. (SOUNDBITE) (Nuer) BUK LIY KANG, SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEE, REFUGEE, SAYING: "I usually come back from the forest after two hours or so, and I get so tired. After resting for a short while, I arrange my firewood for home use and for sale." While a necessity for refugees, the depletion of forests risks creating tensions with local communities and inevitably disrupts the ecosystem. It also exposes refugee women to the risk of sexual abuse as they have to walk long distances to fetch the wood. (SOUNDBITE) (Nuer) BUK LIY KANG, SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEE: "My daughter cannot go to the forest for firewood. I go to the forest because I am more aware of thedangers." But the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization is working with the refugees to address some of the issues. A million fast-growing trees will be planted around the camps to fight deforestation, while creating income opportunities for the refugees. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTURO GIANVENUTI, FORESTRY OFFICER, FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION, SAYING: "It is crucially important that we develop a coherent strategy that enables the most vulnerable people to have access to energy and clean and efficient technologies." The agency will monitor deforestation using satellites and train local craftsmen to produce energy-saving clay stoves that would cut wood consumption by up to 25 percent.