Let’s unleash refugees to be leaders in reforestation!

Happy Earth Day! 🌎

In honor of today, we wanted to share some recent work we’ve been doing in Northwestern, Uganda, related to reforestation efforts. We’ve been able to align our work with larger ecological goals and reforestation work in Uganda.

Here is the backstory.

Refugees often lack physical agency.

We believe every refugee has unique preferences and desires, and we want to increase their agency as it relates to “our lane”: physical goods and ideal shelters.

Thus we created Shelter Depot.

Shelter Depot is a hardware store in a refugee camp.

It’s simple! Yet, it’s revolutionary that its existence is only possible through a belief that refugees are not merely victims in need of assistance.

At Shelter Depot, we provide access* to life-changing physical goods through a non-traditional retail setting.

As it relates to this project’s scope (and as a part of our access* model), we provide an alternative pathway to ownership of our goods uncommon for a traditional retail store through our Work for Credit (WFC) Program.

If a refugee lacks the capital to make a purchase (or would prefer to utilize their capital elsewhere), we offer work opportunities that culminate in acquiring a chosen good. Every price at Shelter Depot is listed in terms of fiat currency and days of work required. As such, Every Shelter is tasked with identifying and facilitating fully funded WFC opportunities.

Deforestation is a significant issue in Uganda. Deforestation in and around refugee camps is particularly pronounced, where large populations compete for natural resources with host communities. Trees are harvested to make charcoal for cooking, poles for shelters, and fuel for firing bricks. Deforestation, aside from being an environmental catastrophe on a global level, leads to localized flooding, erosion, and even physical conflict between refugees and host populations.

At the same time that deforestation is rampant, refugee settlements are places with high rates of unemployment. We believe that these two “problems” can find a resolution in one another. 

Let’s unleash refugees to be leaders in reforestation!

Progress to Date

Through a private donor, the collaboration between Every Shelter and Alight has already begun a small-scale sustainable forestry WFC pilot. On the land granted to the project by the Office of the Prime Minister, 1,000 white and black teak saplings will be planted on one acre of the 2-acre plot. WFC participants opt-in to plant 30 trees in exchange for credit to Shelter Depot. As such, 1,000 saplings represent 33 additional WFC day opportunities. Planting should be complete by the end of the week of April 25, 2023. Some WFC opportunities will persist in maintaining the grove to maturity.

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