Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa
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slm logosThe Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) recognizes and celebrates local grassroots organizations that are improving the livelihoods of rural communities in dryland ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa through sustainable land management.

The Equator Prize for SLM in Sub-Saharan Africa was awarded for the first time in Nairobi Kenya, on 17 June 2014, to commemorate the World Day to Combat Desertification. Twelve winning initaitives from 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa received $5,000 USD and were invited to Nairobi for a 3-day capacity building workshop and award ceremony. Three of the SLM winners were also selected to receive the Equator Prize 2014, and were supported to participate in a series of events held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for September 2014 in New York.

The Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa is a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded project, implemented by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), ENDA Tiers Monde, UNDP’s Equator Initiative, and UNDP Namibia. The project seeks to improve the socio-economic development of rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa through sustainable land management, and to empower local grassroots organizations in sub-Saharan Africa to participate and influence the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), TerrAfrica, and other SLM processes, programs and policies.

Please find below summaries on all winners of the Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa. Click the organization name for a description of the initiative. 

Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Sahara Africa Winners

Association des Pépiniéristes et Planteurs de Tône-Ouest – Togo

 website Planteurs TogoFamily farming and mushroom cultivation are the twin tools of Association des Pépiniéristes et Planteurs de Tône-Ouest in responding to the land degradation, low agricultural yields, and high rates of poverty that has resulted from decades of slash-and-burn farming. Mushroom farming – a traditional farming practice that had fallen into disuse due to deforestation – has been successfully reintroduced in this dryland ecosystem to address poverty, improve soil fertility, promote organic agriculture, and reduce incidence of fires during the dry season. Local incomes have doubled, with new revenue streams invested in over 90 villages into education, health, and child care. Association activities have helped to reduce bush fires and uncontrolled logging and restore soil fertility. The group has also undertaken reforestation efforts in 17 communities that have improved forest cover and restored ecosystem functioning.

Association Tchadienne des Volontaires pour la Protection de l'Environnement – Chad

 website Volontaires ChadAssociation Tchadienne des Volontaires pour la Protection de l'Environnement was developed to address land and resource rights for women, in response to drought, desertification, and land degradation, and focuses on training in ecosystem restoration, drought preparedness, and agroforestry. Land rights are negotiated with local chiefs so that women assume management of degraded plots, which are then restored to become more productive. Training in agroforestry and the manufacture of solar cooking stoves provides women with alternative livelihood options. Youth are trained and serve as ambassadors in the wider community – public, political and religious realms – to sensitize people to the importance of environmental conservation and land rights for women. Farm production has tripled, which has served to reduce out-migration, particularly of youth.

Association Zoramb Naagtaaba – Burkina Faso

 website ZORAMB BurkinaDeveloped in response to water scarcity, environmental degradation, declining agricultural yields and high rates of poverty, Association Zoramb Naagtaaba brings together 10 villages to restore degraded land through the reintroduction of traditional agricultural approaches. In demonstration plots set up by local farmers, sorghum yields have tripled and space has been created for farmers to learn first-hand about pond and hedge techniques that restore land and improve productivity. In 2013 plant production increased by 55 percent and sales increased by 153 percent compared to 2012. Hedgerows have been used to recover storm water without any further erosion to the land. Tree-planting efforts are improving soil fertility and reducing run-off and degradation. Solar electric fences are used to protect crops from grazing livestock, while agricultural extension services are provided to reach farmers working their own land.

Fédération des Unions de Producteurs de Maradi Gaskiya – Niger

 website Fuma NigerFédération des Unions de Producteurs de Maradi Gaskiya is a research-driven initiative that is bringing agro-ecological options to smallholder farmers. Composed of 17 unions, 325 self-help groups, and 12,742 members, the work includes promotion of high-yield crops, participatory planning, marketing of produce and organic certified seeds, and the diversification of agricultural production systems. Farmer incomes have improved significantly, with a percentage of union revenues invested into a revolving fund for community projects. Fast-growing and off-season crops are being introduced to provide food security and alternative sources of income for local women. Community radio has been used as a medium for information exchange, knowledge transfer and education.

Heiveld Co-operative – South Africa

 website Heiveld SASince 2001 Heiveld Co-operative has worked with small-scale rooibos tea farmers to provide organic and fair trade certification, as well as support with market access. In response to climate variability, farmers are cultivating drought-resistant varieties of rooibos. Collaborative work with research institutes has led to an industry-wide code of conduct on the sustainable harvesting and production of rooibos. The cooperative invests revenues back into community water access, education and health projects. Local tea farming incomes have increased by 400 percent, while soil erosion has been reduced in thousands of hectares of drylands where the tea is cultivated.

Integrated Development in Focus – Ghana

 website Integrated GhanaBy equipping women with financial and technical resources to restore degraded lands and develop small-scale enterprises, Integrated Development in Focus is improving crop yields and local incomes. Women-led groups have planted three million trees and restored 350 hectares of land. Communal labor prepares and maintains individual plots of land on a rotating basis. Farmers are trained in organic farming techniques and supported to access new and more lucrative markets for their produce. Growth is ensured through a model whereby each woman who receives training is responsible for training five other women as a condition of support. Small-scale businesses have been launched in livestock rearing, composting and organic vegetable cultivation. Partnerships with local municipalities, chiefs and elders support fire management and environmental watchdog committees.

Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre – Zambia

 website Kasisi ZambiaReaching over 10,000 small-scale farmers, Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre provides agricultural extension services, research, and support marketing local products to local farmers. Demonstration plots are used for hands-on learning and for agricultural research. The center maintains a production site where dairy cows, sheep and other livestock are raised and the milk is sold to a neighboring cheese factory. Through extension services and direct training to farmers, the center has helped improve local maize yields to levels well above the national average, resulting in greater food security and improved incomes. Crop rotation, reforestation, new irrigation schemes and agricultural diversification have all contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of local ecosystems. Biodiversity fairs have been used to help farmers share knowledge on crop diversity, apiculture, and agroforestry techniques. The center oversees a village savings initiative, which has allowed several women to start small-scale enterprises.

Matumizi Bora ya Malihai Idodi na Pawaga (MBOMIPA) Wildlife Management Area – Tanzania

 website TanzaniaA community wildlife management association of 22 villages, Matumizi Bora ya Malihai Idodi na Pawaga (MBOMIPA) Wildlife Management Area works with the 30,000 people living adjacent to Ruaha National Park on sustainable natural resource management and anti-poaching efforts. The association has brought community livelihoods focused on wildlife protection into harmony with biodiversity conservation and environmental stewardship. Revenue has been invested into health, education, and infrastructure. Ecotourism increased income tenfold in 2011. The association has adopted a “human rights of wildlife” approach, where the protection of wildlife is central to community wellbeing. Living fences are used to support food security by keeping elephants and other wildlife from destroying crops. MBOMIPA Wildlife Management Area is recognized as best practice in Tanzania and is being replicated in other regions to protect wildlife and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Northern Rangelands Trust – Kenya

 website Trust KenyaNorthern Rangelands Trust is a network of 26 community conservancies – which together cover over 25,000 km² of land in northern Kenya – driving a movement of community-based conservation that puts indigenous communities at the forefront of land management, wildlife conservation, and sustainable livestock practices. Supporting more than 280,000 pastoralists, the trust has helped address endemic problems ranging from droughts, ethnic rivalries, a lack of access to government services (health and education), and wildlife poaching. New revenue streams through livelihoods diversification and improved land management practices have been directed towards local education and health infrastructure. Hundreds of hectares of degraded pasture have been restored, along with a degree of peace and economic stability in this historically volatile region.

Shewula Trust – Swaziland

 website Shewula SwazilandIn response to high levels of poverty and unemployment this community of 13,000 people in the Lubombo Mountains decided to set aside more than 2,650 hectares of its land as a conservation area and ecotourism project. A tourism camp is managed by the community, with revenues invested into indigenous plant nurseries, wildlife management, and anti-poaching measures. Revenues have been invested into local schools, health clinics, and a community resource center. The camp has created a market for local food and handicraft products. Support has been provided to local farmers working with indigenous, drought-resistant crops and an environmental education program is helping reduce incidents of poaching in neighboring parks.

Union des Associations Villageoises de Gestion des Réserves de Faune Pendjari – Benin

 website Pendjari BeninIn the buffer zone of the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in northwest Benin, Union des Associations Villageoises de Gestion des Réserves de Faune Pendjari is moving the cotton industry towards organic and fair trade practices. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers were having deleterious effects on ecosystems and human health so the union is promoting organic certification as a pathway to sustainable development. While organic cotton fields produce smaller yields, the cotton can be sold at a higher price and farmers do not have to absorb the costs associated with chemical fertilizers. By investing in organic cotton, the association is creating a sustainable market supply chain for more than 450 producer groups. Crop rotation has improved food security and complements the cotton cash crop economy.

Utooni Development Organization – Kenya

 website Utooni KenyaUtooni Development Organization uses the innovative, low-investment “sand dam” technology in the communities of southern Kenya. Over 80 self-help groups were formed and 2700 farmers trained in water management, food security, sustainable agriculture, tree planting, and alternative income generation. Over 1500 sand dams have been built - concrete walls built around seasonal rivers that store water in sand, raising the water table, and increasing the size of local aquifers and availability of clean water. This low-cost technology hedges against droughts so communities can manage water resources in harmony with local ecosystems. Tree cover, bird populations, fish stocks, and farmer incomes have all increased as a result.

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