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Trees for disaster preperedness

Planting multiple purpose trees in slumps to protect against weather extremes and secure post-disaster recovery

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During extreme and prolonged periods of drought daily maximum temperatures increase the risk of fatalities in particular for elderly, sick and young children; more so in slumps where exposure to the sun is high, houses are not insulated and ventilation is poor. During extreme and prolonged periods of rain, disaster strikes through flooding, collapse of dwellings and landslides. Consequently, inhabitants risk of drowning or getting burred and injured. My idea is to plant multiple purpose trees in slumps such as Moringa and Jackfruit. These are resilient trees able to grown under difficult conditions yet providing shade, a strong hold, fuel and food. Despite the density of dwellings in a slump, there is usually space for trees. Once the trees grow above the low buildings space for the crown is no longer an issue. Inhabitants choose and find space to plant their tree(s), protect them from damage and ensures it matures. The mature trees provide shade and insulate dwellings from prolonged exposure from the sun and high temperatures; they provide a stronghold and refuge during extreme flooding, people can climb in them to save themselves and their small valuable item possessions; the trees secure the soil and protect against landslides and they can also provide food and fuel, e.g. Moringa trees provide nutritious food in the form of leaves and young pods, and fuel when branches are pruned and Jack fruit trees provide fruit and edible seeds for immediate consumption or storage.


The direct beneficiaries are the residents of the urban slums. By implementing the idea the residents will be better prepared for extreme weather events and disasters. After a disaster they will recover more quickly with food and fuel available in their direct vicinity and their small valuable items saved such as a cell phone with access to hopefully mobile money. The idea will be implemented in Kampala.


To my knowledge there has been no effort to prepare slumps for extreme weather events related to climate change and increase their chances of recovery after a disaster has occurred. Ordinary: The idea is targeting the poor population in slumps and as the trees grow their resilience grows as well increasing their long-term adaption to climate change. Ecosystem: Currently, a network or ecosystem of people and organizations focusing on slump disaster preparedness is non-existent. Flexibility: Creating a canopy over the slumps will buffer the effect of drought and regulate the local climate. When the trees are big enough people can build refuges in them in case of extreme flooding. Limited resources: Once the seedlings are planted no resources are needed to keep it growing besides watering it when it is dry and protecting it from damage. Gender: Women and girls are most vulnerable when disasters strike, once they have to evacuate their risks increased. By planting trees they can stay longer at their homes and increase their changes for survival. With the people: the idea has not yet been tested yet. But we all have seen people sitting in trees in flooded disaster areas and we all know it is cooler to sit in the shade of tree than in the sun.


  • Yes, for two or more years


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years


  • Yes


My name is Miguel Leal and I am a specialist in climate change mitigation and adaptions responsible of projects along the Albertine Rift in East and Central Africa.

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