The Shea Project 2008-2012.pdf

NUSPA in Lexus Magazine.pdf


On-Farm Biodiversity Program

In northern Uganda, indigenous woodland has been managed by local farmers over millennia.

Recent economic pressures have brought a decline in the ecological integrity of some parts of the Ugandan shea savanna, but in the Shea Project area local communities are becoming more and more concerned about environmental issues including conservation of woodland.

Environmental Education Component

Under the Environmental Education Component, conservation education curricula are being developed for primary and secondary schools within the project area, as well as community groups.

Nursery Management Component

Under the nursery Management Component, COVOL provides technical assistance in the establishment and management of tree nurseries for afforestation and income generation by groups, schools and individuals.


Applied Research Component

With partial funding from the European Commission through the University of Wales at Bangor, COVOL has begun a comprehensive ecological, botanical and socioeconomic study of indigenous management of woodland biodiversity within the Shea Project area.

Under the EC-funded INCO project, COVOL joins 15 counterpart institutions in Africa and in Europe in collaborative research on the shea-butter tree. Working directly in partnership with local farmers, COVOL is conducting the first applied research to date on the nilotica subspecies.

Knowledge gained under the Applied Research Component is proudly 'plowed back' into the community in the form of local-language publications and public forum meetings, for the long-term conservation of indigenous technical knowledge on local biodiversity.

Traditional Food Plants

Research Under the Applied Research Component of the On-Farm Biodiversity Program, COVOL is documenting the nutritional and economic significance of a wide range of indigenous plant species. The importance of traditional food plants in northern Uganda was made very clear in 1994, when famine swept across the project area. COVOL staff noticed that some communities suffered less than others from the ravages of hunger, and it soon became apparent that these more fortunate communities were favored by the presence of old people - elders who held in their experience practical knowledge of wild famine foods. Aside from knowing which plants can be eaten and where they can be found, processing of the plants is crucially important. Whereas many wild fruits can be eaten directly, some important roots and tubers must be carefully chopped and soaked in water to draw out natural poisons which can cause serious illness, particularly in hunger-stressed bodies. COVOL is currently compiling a comprehensive database on wild foods and their required processing, to be published in the form of illustrated pamphlets in the vernacular languages of northern Uganda. In addition to the practical use of wild food plants, equally important is the conservation of cultivated traditional foods such as Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), protein-rich amola (Hyptis spicigera), and nutritious greens including akeyo (Cleome gynandra) to prevent cultural as well as genetic erosion of these indigenous nutritional resources. COVOL is currently liaising with USAID-OFDA and the USDA on traditional food plant research in northern Uganda; both OFDA and the USDA have sponsored similar work in Southern Sudan. It is expected that the documentation of traditional food plants under the Shea Project will help to preserve practical knowledge (currently referred to as 'indigenous technical knowledge' or ITK) for present and future generations.