In a space of 42 years, Dr. Jibunoh has conducted three expeditions across the Sahara by road. The first and second expeditions were solitary journeys from London to Lagos and Lagos to London, respectively. During the third expedition, he went along with a team of five volunteers, who are dubbed the young desert warriors.
Crossing the Sahara, the world's biggest desert, alone can be quite tasking mentally and physically. When left alone for so many days, your mind plays games with you. Prior to leaving London on his trip, Dr. Jibunoh was warned of the possible dangerous encounters he could face. But no one warned him of the desert animals. One such animal attacked him at dusk somewhere in the desert of Niger Republic and he killed the animal with a grenade. That explosion set off some bandits after him but fortunately, he had a head start on them in his car and made it out alive.
Desertification destroys vegetative cover, and if allowed to continue unchecked, will eventually turn the area arid and ultimately produce a desert landscape. It is our mission to tame the desert. Therefore, we must plant trees. We must nurture the trees until they can become self sustaining. Successive governments in shelterbelt regions of Nigeria have embarked on tree planting programmes in the past. Majority of these failed due to lack of sustained action. FADE has changed that. FADE ensures community participation in the reforestation projects by encouraging the community members and leaders to take ownership of the project.
FADE's goal is to establish wall of trees along the fringes of the desert in successive rows, working its way gradually towards the heart of the desert. This way, lost grounds, villages and communities will be recovered. To address these issues and bring the benefits of reclaimed societies to people, FADE designed a tree planting program that includes planting carefully selected tree species in rows.
Wall of trees, which is FADE's term for Wind Break or Shelterbelt trees, is a line of trees planted in order to break or reduce wind speed. The benefits derived from this structure include:
On each reforestation site, we planted a woodlot which is a collection of trees planted for use as firewood. When these trees reach maturity, they are pruned (not completely cut) and the wood sold to the public to generate revenue for the schools.
A variety of fruit bearing trees which include orange, mango, papaya, custard apple, cashew, and guava have been planted. The economic trees provide means of livelihood to the community, while providing nutrition and agricultural trade. The agricultural trees act as incentives to participate and sustain the program of tree planting as a means of reclaiming lost lands and taming the desert.
All plants at growing stages need water and nutrients to thrive. Desert regions and borders lack surface water and have scarce rainfalls. FADE provides boreholes with necessary distribution networks to facilitate the growth and survivability of the planted seedlings. In addition, pumps, pipes and sprinkler systems are provided to water the trees. The competing schools are also provided with a motorized borehole or a hand pump to irrigate the trees. These boreholes are used not only to irrigate the trees but also as a source of clean drinking water and for domestic needs.
In future, FADE plans to partner with other NGO’s for the provision of water. In addition to encouraging the return of farming communities to reclaimed lands, FADE will endeavour to encourage the construction of small earth dams and artificial lakes wherever possible, as sources of water for irrigation.
In 2013, we got this grand idea to commemorate the 95 th birthday of the late African sage and world icon, by planting ninety-five trees in his honour and as support for the conservation of nature and its elements. The inspiration came from the culture of FADE’s founder, Dr Newton Jibunoh to do same for his birthday, a habit that birth Gardens of 75 trees in Lagos. The idea gradually grew into becoming the first urban conservation center Nelson Mandela Gardens (NMG) in the Delta state’s capital, Asaba. The objective of NMG is to provide access to trees and animals in a natural state while encouraging the establishment of more urban parks and zoos in the state.
The project is formally endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Family as part of the continuation of the “Mandela Is” campaign, which is aimed at the improvement of the African Man’s existence.
The Garden sits on 14,414 acres of choice land within the perimeter of the Asaba International Airport is endowed with ample forest cover and a zoo which attracts a number of activities like bird-watching, school excursions, tree planting and more with the sole vision of connecting people with nature.
There are a number of palm trees scattered in the premises that regularly produce palm fruits and also get tapped for palm wine. Other trees in the park include Pride of India, Ficus Trees and more. There are also fruits such as mangos Mangifera indica and papaya Carica papaya that are grown and sold at highly subsidized prices to the tourists of the park as well as the nearby community members. The mini zoo which started as a safe space for rescued farm donkeys has grown to include several other animals like Ostrich, tortoise, rabbits, goose and geese (and other migratory birds), peacocks.
NMG delivers on its mandate through educating visitors and the surrounding communities on the various environmental issues, sustainable farming and biodiversity conservation.
The intention of planting specific agricultural trees in the long-term is to establish small fruit processing plants in the rural areas, so that the women and youths are empowered. FADE establishes prototype cottage industry plants at each reforestation site, which are used to process seeds and fruits from the economic trees.
The women of the desert communities are trained on using the machines and are encouraged to embrace this as possible means of livelihood and industry. This also helps to sustain their interest in the reforestation programme. Fruits from the trees planted are processed in the FADE cottage industry in Makoda and products such as body creams, soaps and oil are produced.