Restoring dryland ecosystems through agro ecological and permaculture best practices in Kenya

Restoring dryland ecosystems through agro ecological and permaculture best practices in Kenya

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Drylands Natural Resources Centre (DNRC) is a farmer cooperative which reaches over 3,000 people. The center mainly works on dryland ecosystem’s restoration through sustainable agricultural and agroforestry practices. Among its results are increased crop yields, improved soil and water resources, and income generation. DNRC also promotes social inclusion, local empowerment and community cohesion through training at DNRC’s demonstration farm.

No Poverty , Eradicate extreme poverty , Build resilience of vulnerable to climate disasters , Climate Action , Strengthen resilience, adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards , Improve learning, capacity on climate change measures , Build capacity for climate change planning, management , Life on Land , Conserve, restore, sustainably use terrestrial, freshwater ecosystems , Promote sustainable forest management, restoration, afforestation , Combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil , Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction

Agricultural productivity has declined in many dryland areas in Kenya due to lighter, more erratic rainfall. This challenge forces farmers to over-exploit their farmland and harvest woodlands that historically stabilized regional soil and water features. Consequently, Kenya is suffering from increased soil’s erosion and depletion, and rivers draught. The result is a vicious cycle of environmental degradation and declining agricultural productivity. Moreover, dryland communities are often isolated, neglected, and poorly understood, with much of the burden falling on women and children.

DNRC delivers an ambitious program of long-term community engagement, in which families restore their land through the application of agricultural and agroforestry best practices. The main results are increased crop yields, soil and water resources improvement, and valuable tree products generation.

To be eligible for the program, farmers must have completed a training program, developed an agroforestry plan with DNRC, and prepared the land to receive saplings. DNRC sells surplus saplings to nearby communities, what helps to provide revenues for DNRC and contribute to regional reforestation. To date, DNRC has planted over 500,000 trees and paid 10 cents for each planted tree.

DNRC’s large-scale impact over the years is evident in the recent expansion of the Katende forest area, adjacent to Mbumbuni. This result was a consequence of decreased Illegal forest logging for timber and firewood, which was popular in the past. Thanks to DNRC’s operations, farmers have now access to woodlots for sustainable production of firewood to preserve forest resources.

DNRC has also shared its learnings with Komaza, a large and fast-growing forestry enterprise in Kenya. It also hosted visits to various research institutions, and worked to best utilize the valuable data DNRC has collected. Moreover, international organizations such as fastenopfer and Troicare Kenya have brought their partner organizations farmers to learn and benchmark their activities with DNRC successful story.

Progress to Date

DNRC is currently working with 600 households (about 3,600 people), organized into community thirteen groups—eleven of which are led by women. DNRC is also working with six schools, with an average of 300 students each, thus reaching a total of 1,800 students. Over the last ten years, the program has grown from 27 households to the current 600 households.

Key DNRC programs and projects include:

·       Tree Nursery: the nursery grew from 5,000 tree seedlings per year to the current 70,000 seedlings each year. So far we have disseminated over 800,000 tree seedlings to farmers and the surrounding six schools. The trees have then been planted in the community. The trees seedlings consist of over 30 different local trees species, which are planted in a food forest set up. The impact of this initiative is evident from the improved microclimates and firewood and green charcoal pruned from the older, more mature trees.

·       Member Training: DNRC staff have been training smallholder farmers and their families in dryland agroforestry and food forests as well as promoting community cohesion, empowerment, and shared learning through regular formal training at the DNRC demonstration farm, focus groups, farm visits and educational programs and open days. These 600 households meet weekly with local neighbors, and have bi-annual gatherings, where members meet, cook, eat, dance and share their experiences to strengthen the community fabric and bring the culture back through music and dances.

·       Rain Water Harvesting: DNRC has installed 90 water cisterns of 10,000 litre capacity in schools and households. They provide clean, secure, and continuously available drinking water to over 1,500 children and their parents. Cisterns are allocated by lottery from households in good standing with DNRC and installed using solidary groups so as to strengthen the sense of community.

·       Income Generation: DNRC employs a cooperative model to process and sell green charcoal and moringa products (a healthful tree-based food supplement) on behalf of its member farmers as a source of income. DNRC also trains its members in business development, including handmade baskets and carvings among the farmers.

·       Food Security: DNRC promotes agro-ecological food production with emphasis on indigenous, nutritious, and local foods.

·       Fostering Culture. DNRC has begun traditional Kamba (the local ethnic group) construction methods to build accommodations for visitors, interns, and volunteers. These spaces will also serve as a venue for recording traditional songs and folktales from the community, and to promote traditional foods, crafts, and lifestyles.


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Drylands Natural Resources Centre (DNRC)

Strengthen capacity of local companies in Haiti

Shared by: Gilles Sassine , Development Innovation Network Lead - Konbit, Papyrus, Haiti

In Haiti, companies struggle to compete for large internationally funded projects due to local project implementation barriers to the detriment of local actors and funders alike: local companies lack the systems to take on larger projects, which are subsequently awarded to foreign implementers at a higher cost, with significantly less money circulating in the local economy, and limited opportunities for local capacity development. 

This situation creates a vicious cycle where the local eco-system incurs two major losses:
-    a high percentage of development funds are charged as overhead and therefore not spent in-country. Local companies are hired as subcontractors, many times with subpar gains in terms of funds and capacity development.
-    While there are increased efforts on the part of international implementers to share and impart  knowledge, it is not always carried out. Many programs end up paying for the same data sets because information is not shared, and local actors cannot build on their past experiences to improve their operations. 

To break this cycle, organizations must constantly improve their technical and administrative capabilities such that they can both compete against each other for relatively smaller projects and work in partnership for larger bids, thereby constantly increasing the scale and complexity of projects that can be locally implemented.

Local development partners, private and public, do not have a sufficiently influential and unified voice in programs design. This leads to waste due to lack of communication and a duplication of efforts, as was seen following the 2010 earthquake.

Furthermore, the lack of a shared knowledge base leads to repeated mistakes and stifled growth. Local service providers have little means to learn from international entities in order to play a significant role in the development of their own country.

USAID-Haiti has invested in Local Solutions through its Konbit project awarded in 2015.

Konbit’s goal is to increase the number of local development partners influencing and achieving significant and sustainable development results in Haiti, accountable to their constituents and able to effectively compete for and manage resources. The project has already launched an online platform ( that aims to improve access to networks, markets, and information.

 In order to make this effort truly sustainable, the donor community, national and international governments, and the private sector at large should collaborate on two fronts:

  • Use technology to connect existing online platforms in order to openly share data collected through implemented programs. This would reduce duplication of effort as well as mistakes made due to lack of information. By creating a data driven decision making environment, efforts will have a greater impact and reduce the need for aid.

Create a Systems Thinking Framework that promotes standards. This will reduce the need for international entities to execute projects in Haiti, resulting in increased funds and knowledge in country. Ultimately, the Haitian community will be in a better position to determine its own development.

Decent Work and Economic Growth , Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure , Reduced Inequalities , Sustainable Cities and Communities , Partnerships for the Goals

Promoting knowledge sharing among foundations in Colombia

Promoting knowledge sharing among foundations in Colombia

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The Association of Corporate and Family Foundations (AFE) in Colombia was created on March 2008 by 9 family and corporate foundations. Today, AFE gathers 74 of the most relevant corporate and family foundations in Colombia.   AFE acts as the ambassador of its members, promoting and encouraging the coordination, cooperation, social innovation, transparency and the sharing of good practices and knowledge among members and, government and other civil society actors. AFE aims to achieve greater impact through the social interventions of its members to contribute to social equity and a sustainable peace development in Colombia. AFE developed an online geo-referenced database MAP, powered by Google Technology that consolidates complete information of AFE Foundations, promoting knowledge management among peers and other key social players.

Partnerships for the Goals , Strengthen domestic resource mobilization , Enhance cooperation on science, technology, innovation , Promote learning on environmentally sound technologies , Operationalize mechanism on technology, innovation, capacity-building , Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development , Enhance global sustainable development partnerships , Encourage, promote public, private, civil society partnerships , Support increase of high-quality, timely data , Support sustainable development progress measures, statistical capacity

The main challenge that drove AFE to create is interactive map was the lack of information and data that exists about the role of the national philanthropic sector in Colombia. An important challenge we assumed was to foster interest from our 74 member foundations in sharing strategic information about their projects, in order to consolidate this information in one single map of public access.

Given the context of the international development agenda with the inception of SDGs, the map also confronted the challenge of becoming a mechanism that could promote knowledge and awareness of the SDGs to the AFE Foundations.

The Association of Corporate and Family Foundations gathers 74 member foundations working in different areas throughout the country. In its role of connecting, communicating and advocating AFE identified the geo-referenced MAP as an opportunity to give more visibility to the work of its foundations with the intention to promote new partnership among them and other stakeholders. 
The MAP is an interactive tool that offers updated data to identify synergies and promote partnerships. It is a repository of information, with the aim to strengthen transparency, accountability and sharing of information with other collective maps, it shows AFE Foundation's consolidated information to reflect the trends of philanthropy, and social private investment, and finally, it can be appropriated in the web-pages of the associate foundations where they can customize it, manage their own projects and include their own indicators. Today AFE has data of more than 1.500 projects that are being implemented by foundations in Colombia. In addition, foundation activities are categorised and filtered by the SDGs. 

The SDGs filters was seen as an opportunity to give the map a global language that could strengthen the impact specifically with international actors who are interested either in entering to work in Colombia or are researching new ways to map data around the 2030 agenda.
The Map feeds other interactive platforms such as the Social Map of the Colombian government, while also providing information and data to the Foundation Center under the partnership taking place in the SDG philanthropy Platform, where Colombia is a pilot country and AFE the local partner of the SDG philanthropy platform.


AFE and its 74 member Foundations


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