Welcome to Regreening Africa's February - June 2019 edition, where you will encounter compelling headlines, updates on the projects' initiatives and achievements, and forthcoming events in line with the restoration agenda. 

Pause, reflect, learn, adapt


 

We have to admit land restoration is not going to happen in conferences and workshops. It is going to happen on smallholders' farms and other degraded lands.

With just a year and half gone by, the Regreening Africa team decided
to pause and assess what the project had achieved in seven countries and provide coordinated technical support to implementing partners through a joint reflection and learning process. These visits formed part of a five-day learning and sharing event in each country intended to ensure effective expansion of the scale of regreening practices at both community and individual levels.

It was evident that sustainable value chains needed to be integrated and strengthened if the efforts to scale-up restoration were to bear fruit. Moreover, short-term interventions by diversifying household income generation would help address the need for firewood and charcoal, and bridge the void created when the gospel of delayed gratification is spread, as trees may take long to mature before benefits are enjoyed. Farmers were extremely keen to integrate diverse tree species on their farms especially those that bear real as well as economic fruit. 

Gender integration at all levels of the project was discussed at length as issues pertaining to land and tree tenure and value chains will have an overall differentiated effect on men, women and youth and therefore affect equity outcomes in the ambitions to restore degraded landscapes. Finally, the need to strengthen co-learning between implementing partners and other stakeholders, and taking up indigenous knowledge and experiences from farmers, will help accelerate the scale of regreening interventions beyond the project’s sites and influence changes in policies and governments’ budgetary allocations.

Regreening degraded landscapes is hard work, but, it is also exhilarating! Keep exploring both worlds.

Regreening activities kick off in Somalia! 

After a year of delay of commencement of activities in Somalia due to funding and contractual constraints, the implementation of activities kicked-off in April 2019 after extra allocation of €300,000 by the European Parliament to support activities in Puntland in addition to what was already planned for in Somaliland. 

Somalia is at a turning point towards progressive
development after two decades of strife and instability. The European Union is a leading player in turning the tide in the country through various investment programmes that include restoration of degraded lands through regreening initiatives, such as Regreening Africa, led by World Vision in Somaliland and CARE in Puntland, with technical support provided by World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

For more on this exciting development in Somalia, click here...

Policy and Stakeholder engagement workshops undertaken in seven countries!

The Stakeholder Approach to Risk Informed and Evidence Based Decision Making (SHARED) workshops were held in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Mali,Senegal and Niger. Recognising that no one institution is capable of addressing the challenge of land restoration on their own, the workshop brought together audiences from different organisations and levels, including: government institutions, development partners, Non-Governmental Organisations, Community-Based Organisations and farmer representatives.

The SHARED approach strives to ensure a policy synthesis is conducted so that policy weaknesses and strengths are identified, followed by coordinated, structured, stakeholder engagement to map areas of intervention and, finally, to identify a roadmap for achieving land-restoration targets. The approach attaches significance to co-design of restoration interventions, co-learning through sharing evidence and ensuring behaviour changes are tracked.

Discover more.

Beating Famine Conference - We were there!


 

Beating Famine is a series of conferences addressing land degradation and the root environmental causes of poverty and famine. 

The first conference was held in Kenya in 2012. It launched a five-year FMNR (Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration) initiative in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. The second conference was in Malawi in 2015. It targeted Southern Africa and saw over 500 participants attending. This years' conference focused on FMNR and other successful land restoration initiatives in the Sahel as it is estimated that FMNR has spread to 21-million hectares in the West African Sahel, making the region a world leader of the land restoration movement. 

The massive conference brought together Sahelian countries from 26-28th February in Bamako, Mali, with the objective of building awareness to taking proven successes to scale. During the conference Regreening Africa spearheaded a session dubbed, ‘How to massively accelerate the scaling-up of land restoration in the Sahel’, in a bid to bring together actors who can support the scaling up of Regreening initiatives.

The session also identified the missing middle between service providers and local-level users, translating to an urgent need to create an enabling environment for sustainable land management. This will require deliberate policies and investments, as well as social innovations to accompany technological innovations in land restoration. An enabling environment, supported by policies and incentives, can stimulate social innovations.

Courtesy of speakers from diverse backgrounds and institutions, it was evident that a paradigm shift to integrate research into development was urgently needed to turn the tide of land degradation. There was no silver bullet to increasing scale because numerous and varied factors contribute to land degradation, including poor farming practices, unfavourable policies that act as disincentives for farmers to invest in long-term restoration, conflicts, migration and climate-related events such as droughts. 

It was therefore evident that social innovations need to be accompanied by technological innovations, to stimulate an enabling environment supported by policies and innovations. Furthermore, a call to strengthen key agroforestry commodity value chains was made, through improved harvesting technologies, processing and value addition of agroforestry products and linking farmers to markets.

Fast tracking and restoration needs initiatives that focus beyond crop farming. Take a closer look.

World Congress on Agroforestry

The overall objective of the Congress was to contribute to the strengthening of agroforestry science and practice in order to provide opportunities for enhancing the links between science, society and policy and to bridge the science-policy gap.

The presentations by world-known keynote speakers from around the world highlighted that the technological and biological aspects of scaling-up agroforestry systems
are critical, but they are insufficient to guarantee adoption or maintenance of agroforestry practices by farmers. Policy, legal and institutional conditions play an indispensable role in the spread of agroforestry, and coordination between forestry and agriculture ministries.

In order to raise the local, regional and global profile of agroforestry and significantly increase awareness, support and engagement, gaps in the financial and technical capacity to implement agroforestry must be filled. Furthermore, unsecured or ambiguous land and tree tenure creates long-term uncertainty that further restricts agroforestry initiatives.

The congress therefore created a global roadmap with clear targets that will ensure agroforestry is given the recognition it deserves in terms of partnerships, investments and impact. Dennis Garrity, Chair of the Global Evergreening Alliance and Senior Fellow at World Agroforestry, presenting on behalf of the Regreening Africa project, proposed the following opportunities, to scale-up agroforestry:

1. Establishment of national cross-sector agroforestry scaling platform (such as already exists in Ethiopia);
2. Development of national agroforestry policies, strategies and action plans (such as those being implemented in India and Rwanda;
3. Establishment of networks of rural resource centers to multiply and promote diverse quality tree germplasm, together with knowledge and skills on their deployment;
4. Implementation of the devolution process within countries, to better enable the integration of agroforestry into sub-national level plans, programmes and policies, and
5. Reforms on land and tree tenure that re-align with the interests of landowners and farmers

He pointed out that these developments are now accelerating in many countries, and that they will have enormous impact in continuing to advance the positive trend toward increasing tree cover on agricultural lands that we are witnessing around the world. He noted that currently there is over 10% tree cover on nearly half of the world’s farmland, and that it is growing rapidly. He emphasized that this global process confirms that we may now envision the perennialization of future agriculture across the planet.

Global Soils Week

Global Soil Week (GSW) 2019 convened under the theme, ‘Creating an Enabling Environment for Sustainable and Climate Resilient Agriculture in Africa.’ The conference adopted a “bottom-up” approach that first allowed participants to discuss lessons learned from more than 20 projects in Africa and Asia that are promoting sustainable land management (SLM) at the local level.
Taking place on the first two days of the conference, the aim of this technical segment was to draw broader insights for policy makers, agricultural services providers, development partners and other stakeholders on how to build an enabling environment for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by strengthening the “missing middle” between global and national targets, and local realities. The technical sessions addressed project experiences under the broad themes of: practices for empowering women’s participation in SLM and decision making; business models to strengthen financial and market inclusion for smallholder farmers and pastoralists; and mechanisms for bridging macro- and micro-level land governance structures.

Among the 20 projects in Africa and Asia, was Regreening Africa, ably represented by Leigh Ann Winowiecki (Soils Systems Scientist) and Mieke Bourne (SHARED facilitator). The presenters discussed the importance of scaling up agroforestry successes to impact livelihoods and facilitate interactions between farmers and researchers to embed research into development programmes. Discussions from the interactive fora generated lessons including the need to track restoration activities to inform decision making, and using methodologies that engage stakeholders across sectors to bring together evidence from science and local knowledge. 

The discussions also highlighted the use of online decision dashboards to make data more accessible for decision making. "To impact livelihoods at scale, local knowledge and science should be embedded in development programs," noted Leigh. "This way, stakeholders across sectors will make decisions informed by evidence.

Cross-sectoral interdisciplinary experts prepared key recommendations which can be accessed here.

Global Landscapes Forum


We all know that landscape approaches are outstandingly important. They boost livelihoods, they restore destroyed ecosystem functions, they put carbon right back where it belongs (in the soil!) and they buffer extreme weather events. Oh, and they're pretty good at maintaining, protecting or even restoring biodiversity, too.
  
So, why does it so often feel that they face enormous hurdles in spreading across landscapes? Why does land degradation seem to progress unimpeded? What is it we're missing? Why does it seem that we cannot walk the talk? 
 
It was to look at these questions that Regreening Africa’s Patrick Worms and CIFOR’s Dietmar Stoian organised and hosted a side event at this year’s Global Landscape Forum in Bonn.  “We really wanted to get to the bottom of things, and so spread our net for speakers far beyond the run of usual suspects,” said Dietmar. Patrick added, “We had colleagues from ICRAF and CIFOR, of course, but also Alexandru Ghiurca from the European Commission; Martin Frick, one of the top 3 people at the UNFCCC; Pradeep Monga, the deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, and Bernard Giraud, who runs the Livelihoods Fund”. 
 
The scene was set by a young climate activist from Kano, Nigeria, called Nasreen Al-Amin, who joined by video. The panel discussions rapidly focused on how the global instruments of the United Nations and the efforts of major donors can link up with the insights of the business community and the decades of science on landscape restoration to generate impactful packages of interventions that, provided these various inputs can be properly coordinated, can durably transform landscapes and the livelihoods of those who live in them. 
 
Mr. Ghiurca, who is known as the task officer at the European Commission for Regreening Africa, emphasised that for the EU, the approaches that we are trialing across eight countries are potentially groundbreaking. In a world in which donors and funders want to see solid evidence that their money achieves massive impact, the promises of agroforestry are crucial. World Agroforestry Director General, Dr. Tony Simons, who pioneered some of the most innovative public private partnerships for restoration, remarked that in today's world, most of the funding would have to come from private sources, and that designing instruments that would allow these investors to improve landscapes rather than merely exploit them was crucial. Bernard Giraud, who runs one of the world's biggest funds devoted to landscape restoration, concurred.

But, as so often, it was the wisdom of the scientists that may have left the most lasting impression. Chris Martius’ Comparison of human institutions to boxfishes (square and simple) and of landscapes to jellyfishes (complex and flexible) will be remembered by many.

"Our Light touch in Burkina"


Regreening Africa supported the Salon International de l’Arbre (SIA)—or the International Tree Fair as part of its contribution to reversing land degradation in Burkina Faso. The international tree fair was convened in Ouagadougou from 18-21st June 2019 by the Mouvement Ecologique du Burkina, a non-profit organization engaged in the fight against desertification.

The event was organized in partnership with key actors in land restoration in the country,
including Ministry of Environment of Burkina and the Great Green Wall Initiative. The event targeted to plant 500,000 trees of diverse species for ecological and socio-economic benefits of the people of Burkina Faso. 

The international tree fair event was initiated by Ecological Movement in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change. The main aim of the event was to promote trees and their numerous benefits, especially for the most vulnerable communities. The 2019 edition of the fair sponsored by Regreening Africa was themed “Trees as a vector of economic and social development of the Sahelian countries: what political and citizen actions to promote?”. 

This years' edition attracted hundreds of participants from civil society organizations and Non-Governmental Organisations from Burkina, Mali and Niger. The Ministry of Environment and Green Economy and the Ministry of Animal Resources were both present as well as several government agencies that animated thematic sessions throughout the Tree Fair. The Minister of Environment and Green Economy from Burkina Faso, Mr. Bassiere Batio Nestor, in his opening speech, emphasized the central role trees play in the livelihood of Sahel communities. He warned about the current degradation rates taking place and concluded by encouraging participants to reflect on ways to promote trees.
 
Regreening Africa project was represented by Ibrahim Touré, an Associate Scientist on Land restoration, based in the Sahel office of ICRAF. 

 

Developing Sustainable Tree-based Value Chains and Markets. An example from Ethiopia

Smallholders in Ethiopia rely on trees and tree products for their livelihoods. The heavy reliance on trees can lead to environmental degradation, underscoring the need to enhance tree cover. Appreciating the finite nature of trees, Regreening Africa has included sustainable tree-based value chains in its strategies to find ways to create incentives for farmers to benefit commercially from trees while regreening their environment.

This approach is intended to improve the economic prospects of communities, generate more household income and increase profitability through better engagement with everyone along the tree value-chains. Efforts to promote the approach started with a capacity-development and awareness-raising workshop, convened by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) and World Agroforestry.

As a way forward, trainees were tasked to map all stakeholders, assess challenges and information needs, then develop a business plan for their prioritized value chain. Find out more.

State of Land Health: equipping countries with surveillance and analytic tools to assess land degradation


The Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) was deployed in two countries (Rwanda and Senegal) as a key step towards equipping 
countries with tools for assessing land degradation. The LDSF framework is designed by World Agroforestry to provide a biophysical baseline at landscape level that supports the monitoring and evaluation of land degradation and the effectiveness of land restoration measures over time. 

The Framework is a response to the need for consistent field methods and indicator frameworks to assess the health of landscapes, and in return equip project members with surveillance and analytic tools on land-degradation dynamics, including social and economic dimensions, that support strategic decision-making and monitoring of the expansion of scale of Regreening initiatives.

Training in the three countries encompassed:
  • How to carry out navigation on randomised plots using global positional systems
  • Data entry using Open Data Kit as well as back-up paper forms, and data upload using the kit
  • Soil sampling
  • Tree and shrub biodiversity measurements
  • Erosion and infiltration measurements
  • Interpretation of data and preliminary analysis, and
  • Additional aspects of the framework 
This was done in partnership with World Vision Rwanda and World Vision Senegal, which saw to it extension officers, botanists and farmers in both countries were equipped going forward. In Senegal, Ibrahim Khalil Sabaly, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, was in attendance.

The data gathered from this experiment will be used to model saturated hydraulic conductivity and to understand how land use and land management influence the infiltration capacity of soils. Further analysis of the data will be done, including the status of land degradation, and mapping and modelling of the infiltration data. Additionally, soil samples will be analysed to determine key properties, such as soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, soil pH, base cations, and texture. Maps of key indicators of land and soil health will be generated, including soil erosion prevalence, and soil organic carbon.

Learn more from the experts!

Voices from the Field...

 
"We let tree stumps grow on our farms and manage them to become big trees that produce timber and fodder for our livestock", said Mekonen Abraha, a priest and ‘champion farmer’ in Ethiopia. "Regreening Africa has opened our eyes; the importance and benefits of tree management and diversification is evident, and we look forward to reaping greater benefits."
"Initiatives by the project have sparked desire in farmers in Rushahi Village, to have small business trainings that will in return transition the nurseries established by the project, into sustainable businesses our cooperatives are able to run and support their local livelihoods," shares Jane Batamuliza, lead farmer in Rwanda, elected by village members due to her commitment, respect and active role in project activities. "It's my passion to distribute seedlings from nurseries as well as spread awareness on planting techniques since I know the value of trees and would like everyone to benefit from the same." 
"The Joint Reflection and Learning Meeting was a great opportunity for the Mali team to learn and improve our interventions on the ground. The field visit allowed field staff of different partners to see the project’s achievements from different sites and to also exchange with communities. Staff learnt from each other and they better understood some needs from communities, such as acquiring seeds of local tree species. Discussions during the Segou workshop enabled all the participants to better understand some communication tools such as a newsletter, budget
issues, the concepts of outcome mapping, and to explain our adoption by influence/uptake as well as our intervention models. It is desirable that other visits of this kind take place during the life of project," Mamadou Coulibaly, Project Manager, Oxfam Mali.
"The joint Reflection and Learning event was a great opportunity for CRS and other implementing partners in Ethiopia to show what has been done so far in the field, the challenges we encountered and also to learn from the technical expertise of ICRAF colleagues. The comments and feedback shared by the team in the field and reflection sessions in the conference room were very helpful to improve our performance and clarify our questions. It gave us the opportunity to look back, reflect and revise some of our implementation 
approaches. Most importantly, the discussions on leveraging adoption, scaling strategy, project sustainability, impact measurement, value addition, indicators were very interesting.  In general, the event was successful and achieved its objective in providing feedback and directions to implementing partners." Malefia Tadele, Project Manager, CRS, Ethiopia.
Regreening Africa will be launching an App that collects information on the current status of each intervention area and track its real-time progress, ranging from tree nursery locations and species, as well as tree planting dates and survival rates. The free mobile-based Android application designed by the Land Degradation Dynamics and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning teams of World Agroforestry, has four modules that focus on tree planting, nursery establishment, Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) and Training. Some of the application features include: support of simple text and numeric data, images, and location data of trees/ shrubs and nurseries; offline data collection; and ease when uploading to the server once the device is connected to mobile network or WiFi. Try it for free!
Regreening in the News

Niger on Agri Challenge Television twice!

Senegal on Sene Web

 LINKS WE LIKED 
  1. New UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration offers unparalleled opportunity for job creation, food security and addressing climate change 
  2. Keeping trees in the ground - landscape restoration 
  3. Global Soils Week Bulletin 
  4. Prevent desertification, treat the land like it matters 

 MULTIMEDIA RESOURCES 
  1. World Day to Combat Desertification 2019 
  2. Alewa feat. Mothers Club of Nima: Green Movement 

Visit our site...
Want to learn more about the Regreening Africa project? Below are some resources to get you acquainted:  

  1. Regreening Africa, Niger news
  2. Regreening Mali with trees
  3. Regreening Niger with trees
  4. Regreening Senegal with trees
  5. Land Degradation Surveillance Report - Rwanda
1. UNCCD COP 14 | 2-9th September 2019 | New Delhi, India
2. African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) | 3rd September 2019 | Accra, Ghana
3. The Land Accelerator | 12th September 2019 | Nairobi, Kenya

4. ICRAF Science Week | 9 - 12th September 2019 | Nairobi, Kenya
5. GLF Accra | 29 - 30th October 2019 | Accra Ghana
6. Regreening Africa Steering Committee Meeting | November 2019 | Brussels, Belgium
7. COP 25 | 2 - 13th December 2019 | Santiago, Chile
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