Category Archives: News

Originally published on the CARE website.



































For 25 years, CARE Village Savings and Loan Associations have powered change through innovative economics. It all started with a few women and a lockbox in remote Niger. Zeinabou remembers 25 years ago when a Norwegian woman named Moira Eknes came to her village in eastern Niger carrying a gray metal box. Zeinabou couldn’t have known then how she and other women in the village of Kagadama would use it to change their lives and their community — or how an effort that started with her would swell to millions of people around the world.

Eknes, a CARE program advisor, had arrived in Niger to implement a tree-planting project with women like Zeinabou. She quickly learned, however, that with no right to own land, women were much less interested in planting trees than in making ends meet for their families. With few income-producing options available to them, they came up empty, in spite of their endless work pounding millet, fetching water and handling most other household chores.

So they and Eknes changed course, devising instead a homegrown system of microfinance that harnesses the ancient practice of group savings. It was and is called CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Association, an innovative program known throughout Niger today as Mata Masu Dubara, or “Women on the Move.”

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Originally published on the CARE website.
































Women in eastern Niger turn economic opportunity into personal and community transformation –revealing to a new generation what it means to dream.

In 1991, the global poverty-fighting organization CARE launched a transformative program that would change the world. It harnessed the ancient practice of group savings in an innovative concept called Village Savings and Loan Associations, or as those first groups in eastern Niger called it, Mata Masu Dubara (“Women on the Move”). A quarter-century later, it has expanded to include more than 200,000 groups and 5 million members across Africa and around the world, powering personal and community transformation through financial independence. Here is the story of how one of those very first VSLA groups has lifted up three generations of a family in Kagadama, Niger.

Challenges and Opportunities

1. FMNR – Widespread with diverse range of trees with multiple products and uses

2. Faidherbia – highly valued but distribution is not uniform and densities are low:

  • Natural regeneration in natural range
  • Plant air pruned seedlings outside its range
  • Direct sow with pre treated seed

3. Other Planted Systems: Tephrosia, P peas, Gliricidia etc

4. Actions / Strategies / Incentives for scaling up


FMNR in Southern Africa

  • Most widespread and successful AF system in Southern Africa & perhaps other regions of Africa
  • Farmer driven practice – easy, low cost, multiple uses and products, restores natural diversity / builds resilience to environment & livelihoods
  • Despite these facts, few organizations or donors know of or support this practice
  • Needs high attention, research, exposure and publicity to attract support of Govts, Donors, NGOs and Private Sector to realize its potential


Density & Composition of NR Trees on Farms

Top 15 Species Density


% Comp Top 15 Species Density


% Comp Top 15 Species Density


% Comp
Piliostigma thonningii 83.75 49.1% Piliostigma thonningii 35.34 26.1% Combretum molle 23.70 20.0%
Combretum collinum 37.59 22.0% Combretum collinum 26.32 19.4% Markhamia obtusifolia 19.71 16.7%
Acacia polyacantha 7.49 4.4% Combretum zeyheri 17.74 13.1% Brachystegia spiciformis 16.01 13.5%
Lonchocarpus capassa 6.47 3.8% Markhamia obtusifolia 11.52 8.5% Piliostigma thonningii 13.55 11.5%
Rauvolfia caffra 5.50 3.2% Acacia polyacantha 4.56 3.4% Erythrina abyssinica 8.41 7.1%
Markhamia obtusifolia 4.73 2.8% Albizia harveyi 4.42 3.3% Azanza garkeana 5.29 4.5%
Faidherbia albida 2.86 1.7% Faidherbia albida 4.41 3.3% Strychnos spinosa 3.69 3.1%
Kigelia africana 2.65 1.6% Entada abyssinica 3.88 2.9% Acacia polyacantha 3.28 2.8%
Azanza garkeana 2.45 1.4% Lonchocarpus capassa 3.74 2.8% Combretum collinum 2.68 2.3%
Combretum molle 2.02 1.2% Combretum molle 3.11 2.3% Combretum zeyheri 2.28 1.9%
Combretum zeyheri 1.56 0.9% Albizia amara 1.99 1.5% Faidherbia albida 1.90 1.6%
Vitex payos 1.36 0.8% Strychnos spinosa 1.97 1.5% Vangueria infausta 1.68 1.4%
Erythrina abyssinica 1.29 0.8% Cussonia arborea 1.95 1.4% Combretum psidioides 1.59 1.3%
Entada abyssinica 1.23 0.7% Vangueria infausta 1.95 1.4% Croton macrostachys 1.16 1.0%
Maytenus senegalensis 1.23 0.7% Azanza garkeana 1.83 1.4% Entada abyssinica 1.16 1.0%
14 Other Species 8.40 4.9% 16 Other Species 10.74 7.9% 24 Other species 12.21 10.3%
Tree Density / ha 170.59 100.0% Tree Density / ha 135.47 100.0% Tree Density / ha 118.32 100%
Mean DBH (cm) 6.96 Mean DBH (cm) 9.24 Mean DBH (cm) 10.23
Mean Height (m) 3.31 Mean Height (m) 4.15 Mean Height (m) 4.27
# Species in Transects 29 # Species in Transects 31 # Species in Transects 39
Diversity Index 3.38 Diversity Index 8.22 Diversity Index 11.23
# Trees in Transects 320 # Trees in Transects 320 # Trees in Transects 320


Summary of Density & Composition of NR Trees on Farms


(Young Age)

LILONGWE EAST (Medium Age) DOWA WEST (Older Site)
Tree Density / ha 170.59 135.47 118.32
Mean DBH (cm) 6.96 9.24 10.23
Mean Height (m) 3.31 4.15 4.27
Total # Species Recorded 29 31 39
Diversity Index 3.38 8.22 11.23
# Total Trees in Sample 320 320 320

Presentation by Trent Bunderson

Originally published on the World Resources Institute website.









More than a billion people around the world still lack access to electricity; millions more receive poor and inadequate supplies. For the unserved and underserved, there can be significant implications for healthcare, food, education and business.

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it this way when explaining the effects of poor electricity in Nigeria: “I cannot help but wonder how many medical catastrophes have occurred in public hospitals because of “no light,” how much agricultural produce has gone to waste, how many students forced to study in stuffy, hot air have failed exams, how many small businesses have foundered.
Too often, planners confront this electricity access gap by increasing supply without attention to how consumers actually use and pay for electricity. A lasting solution is actually far more complicated than that.”

A new WRI paper, Strategies for Expanding Universal Access to Electricity Services for Development, proposes an approach to closing the access gap driven by the belief that electrification must respond to user demand and help improve lives. We propose three strategies for policymakers, planners and electricity service providers:

  1. understand electricity demand from the bottom up
  2. link electricity access with development priorities
  3. ensure electricity services are reliable, affordable and of good quality

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The Sustainable Forest Management module is intended for people involved in afforestation and reforestation program. The module establishes the difference between forest restoration and rehabilitation and sets out the main steps involved in both. The module provides basic and more detailed information on forest restoration and rehabilitation, as well as links to key tools and case studies of effective restoration and rehabilitation efforts.

Click here to learn more

Originally published on the World Resources Institute website.




With growing awareness of the economic costs of land degradation, political leaders are adopting ambitious targets to restore degraded forests and agricultural land.  Building on the interest in forest landscape restoration generated by the Bonn Challenge, in 2014, countries adopted the New York Declaration on Forests to restore 350 million hectares (865 million acres) of degraded forests and agricultural land by 2030. That’s an area bigger than the size of India.

Several regional initiatives focused on galvanizing further political and financial support for implementing restoration at scale have emerged, like Initiative 20×20 to restore 20 million hectares (49 million acres) by 2020 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the African Forest Landscape Restoration initiative (AFR100) to restore 100 million hectares (254 million acres) of degraded forests in Africa by 2030.

The question now is: How can we restore this massive amount of degraded and deforested landscapes? Evidence shows that we can—as long as we learn from the places showing early successes. Tree planting is key, but it’s not enough.

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