Empower Women for a Sustainable Africa: 2015 Africa Environment Day/ Wangari Maathai Day

“You do not need a diploma to plant a tree.”

This was Professor Wangari Maathai’s smart response to people who were questioning her decision to train illiterate rural women on how to grow and nurture trees.

To celebrate Africa Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Government of Kenya, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), hosted a day-long Women and Environment Forum. The event at ICRAF Headquarters in Nairobi, 4 March, brought together over 60 participants from 6 countries. Read more..

Climate-smart agriculture needs knowledge, cooperation and a healthy dose of trust

Smallholder farms in Kamonyi District, Southern Rwanda. Photo by A. Sigrun Dahlin
Smallholder farms in Kamonyi District, Southern Rwanda. Photo by A. Sigrun Dahlin

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been at the forefront of climate-smart agriculture for the past decade, advocating for and supporting farmers to adopt this type of sustainable land use worldwide. This support is only set to grow with the relocation, starting in 2015, of FAO’s facilitation unit for climate-smart agriculture unit to the organization’s headquarters in Rome.

Eduardo Rojas Briales, Assistant Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said climate smart agriculture offers “an integration of food and nutritional security, higher productivity and increased incomes, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Read more. . .

A new alliance to spread climate smart agriculture among millions of smallholder farmers in Africa

African smallholder farmers have a new ally in their effort to adopt farming practices that raise food production, build resilience to climate change, and create healthier and more sustainable landscapes—that is, practices that are climate smart.

The aim of a new initiative, the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance (ACSAA), is to see 6 million smallholder in Africa practicing climate smart agriculture within the coming 7 years. This effort contributes to NEPAD’s Vision 25 x 25, which aims to reach 25 million African farm households by 2025. Read more. . .

The landscape approach for meeting the climate challenge: Examples from Africa

A series of eye-opening case studies from Africa take up a 44-page section of a new ICRAF publication that brings together, for the first time, original research and syntheses on landscape approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The programmes analysed in the section seek to put the concept of Climate Smart Landscapes into practice across large productive landscapes. They cover Kenya’s premier tea-growing district, cocoa agroforestry systems in Cameroon, and the Congo Basin Forests that cover 300 million hectares and span six countries in Central and West Africa. Read more…

‘Diversity matters,’ and other secrets of successful landscape restoration

“My thinking about restoration has gone through a complete turn-around since starting work on this project,” Rhett Harrison, a tropical forest ecologist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)’s East & Central Asia regional office, told the audience at Tree Diversity Day 2014.

Based on his knowledge of two large-scale projects that have ICRAF as a partner, Harrison went on to give some important tips and considerations for successful forest and land restoration.Read more. . .

From ‘energy poverty’ towards sustainable tree-based bioenergy

When it comes to energy, countries—and in particular developing ones—could take a strong cue from Europe, where the use of bioenergy has been rising over the past two decades. Aware that the current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable from multiple perspectives, EU countries are increasing their use of renewable energy—including that stored in trees—for varied purposes, including electricity generation from biogas-fired power stations.

“All fossil energy sources have either reached or passed their peak production. Even with new discoveries of oil reserves in Africa, and technologies such as fracking for gas, we are running out of energy,” said Philip Dobie, Senior Fellow at ICRAF.Read more. . .

World Agroforestry Centre and Embrapa sign cooperation agreement

A cooperation agreement signed between the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) in Brasilia builds on a longstanding relationship between the two institutions.

Ravi Prabhu, ICRAF deputy director general for research, said Embrapa’s agricultural research is internationally renowned, and “this MoU opens up great possibilities for collaboration between ICRAF and Embrapa, not just within Brazil but in other areas of mutual interest, such as Central America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa, regions where both institutions already have active programs.”Read more. . .

Positive action on gender supports sustainable development

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Members of a women’s group in Malawi in their tree seedling nursery

“Women produce up to three-quarters of the food crops grown in West and Central Africa, and their actions, for better or for worse, affect natural resources, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and ultimately shape the trajectory towards sustainable development.

Cécile Njebet, an advocate for women’s rights and currently president of the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests REFACOF network, said this in her invited talk at the ICRAF Science Week 2014 from 8-12 September.Read more. . .

Native trees in African drylands serve as water harvesters

Native trees that dot African dryland areas bring a welcome respite from the tropical sun. In addition, and contrary to old assumptions, they “… may function as water harvesters, contributing to deeper drainage and recharge.” They might thereby help recharge groundwater bodies.

These findings by researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), recently published in the journal Water Resources Research, refute the commonly held notion that trees in drylands worsen water scarcity.Read more. . .

Sustainable land management depends heavily on a farmer’s overall income

Faced with the unreliable weather patterns in a changing climate, high population, and shrinking farm sizes, subsistence farmers in Africa are turning to various coping mechanisms in order to ensure a crop and some income.

A survey in Western Kenya found that sustainable land management methods, such as terracing to control soil erosion, agroforestry, and using manure to improve soil fertility, were being financed with income from off-farm activities. Farmers often raised the money by exploiting communal land to obtain products for sale (so-called ‘Natural Resource Management-based income-generation’), or by working on others’ farms as paid labour.Read more. . .