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Gaby Allheilig

Whether tiny fauna like the army worm, tomato leaf miner, and papaya mealybug or flora like the common water hyacinth and Lantana camara: More and more non-native species in Africa are becoming invasive. Spreading rapidly, they damage ecosystems and cause severe crop failures – as seen with the army worm and maize and sorghum crops, two Eastern African staples.

Deliberate introduction of Prosopis juliflora

Not every alien animal or plant species was introduced by accident. Prosopis juliflora, for example – a mimosa plant native to Latin America – was deliberately brought to Eastern Africa about 35 years ago and initially grown on plantations. The tree, called mathenge in Kenya, mrashia in Tanzania, and Woyane hara or Derg hara in Ethiopia, is well-adapted to arid environments. Its roots penetrate up to 50 metres into the ground, enabling it to grow in places too dry for other plants.

Exclusive focus on potential benefits

This made Prosopis juliflora seem promising for water-scarce, overgrazed areas like Baringo County in Kenya, where it was intended to help contain desertification while producing firewood, charcoal, and timber. In areas highly prone to soil erosion, like Afar Region in eastern Ethiopia, the often shrub-like tree was planted in hopes of stabilizing local soils.

Sokha Hin
Sokha Hin is cofounder of OpenTeam. Engaged into creating a more sustainable economy. 10+ years track in innovation and digital startup environment. Discovered the so little-known reality of climate change at COP20, in Lima, Peru, Dec 2014. Engaged as a consequence into raising awarness of citizens worldwide and empowering citizens into concrete action through digital tools and spreading social entrepreneurship. The World can evolve only by providing a collective reponse, up to the stake of climate change.

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