Backing African local groups to create 88,000 jobs, restore lands

Backing African local groups to create 88,000 jobs, restore lands
بقلم Marwa Nassar - -

The Bezos Earth Fund and other funding partners have backed TerraFund for AFR100 to support nearly 200 local restoration groups across 27 African countries to restore an estimated 67,000 hectares, create 88,000 part-time and full-time jobs, and benefit 780,000 people.

Since 2021, TerraFund has channeled $33 million from the Bezos Earth Fund and other funding partners to support the local groups in restoration efforts in Africa.

These groups — local nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations — are on the front lines of our nature and climate crises. They do the day-in and day-out work of restoration, turning ambitious restoration targets into action on the ground. They engage area residents in restoration project design, decision-making, and implementation; employ people locally; and deliver concrete benefits for local communities.

“We are hands-on to restore our forest cover, our biodiversity, our water flows, and to uplift livelihoods sustainably,” said Wambui Muthee, Deputy Chair on the Board of Directors for the Green Belt Movement, a Kenya-based environmental nonprofit.

Local organizations like Green Belt will make or break Africa’s ability to meet its 100-million-hectare restoration target.

Despite the vital role they play, local organizations receive only a fraction of international funding flows and capacity support. The Bezos Earth Fund is working to reverse this trend, supporting local restoration action so that countries can meet their targets and deliver on the scale that the world needs.

“Our work to center local leadership in our grantmaking is only just beginning,” said Emily Averna, Bezos Earth Fund’s Program Lead for Land Restoration, “and we have a lot left to learn. But we’ve also gotten started in a few important ways in Africa.”

“We’ve provided seed funding to create TerraFund for AFR100 — a program to identify, vet, fund, and monitor local restoration efforts in Africa,” she said.

Bezos Earth Fund also provides multi-year funding directly to trailblazing grassroots organizations, including Green Belt and The Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS). These groups partner with local communities to set goals, share knowledge, and mobilize people to get involved in restoration activities. “We don’t just tell communities what to do,” said ARCOS Founder and CEO Sam Kanyamibwa. “We listen to each other; we become partners.”

In 2023, ARCOS launched a 32-member African NGOs Alliance for Environmental Sustainability (ANAES) to empower local groups as the architects and agenda-setters of restoration efforts, and to collectively mobilize three million smallholder farmers in restoration activities.

“Our funding is paired with multi-year organizational development support from Maliasili, which helps organizations develop strategies, expand their teams, and fundraise to drive and manage their continued growth.”

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