Monthly Archives: February 2017

“Pay-As-You-Go” Solar Could Electrify Rural Africa

Originally published on the World Resources Institute website.



More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity; 71 million in Kenya and Tanzania alone. Without any other options, these citizens are forced to either go without power or use kerosene, an expensive and oftentimes dangerous fuel that pollutes the air and creates fire hazards.

But there is a solution that could bring affordable electricity to unserved and underserved populations while growing the local economy: pay-as-you-go solar.

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New Deforestation Hot Spots in the World’s Largest Tropical Forests

Originally published on the World Resources Institute website.



Where is deforestation worsening around the world? It’s a difficult question to answer, as many forest assessments are often years or even a decade out of date by the time they’re published. But we’re getting there, thanks to better data and advanced computing power.

A new study by Global Forest Watch,Blue Raster, Esri and University of Maryland released today outlines a method for mapping changes in deforestation hot spots through time. Combining 14 years of annual forest loss data with Esri’s emerging hot spot analysis and big data processing techniques, we can analyze where new deforestation hotspots are emerging and see the effect that countries’ forest policies are having.

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Cool insights for a hot world: trees and forests recycle water

Originally published on the World Agroforestry Centre website.



Anyone who has walked outside on a sunny day knows that forests and trees matter for temperature, humidity and wind speed. Planting trees speaks to concerns about climate change, but the directly important aspects of the tree-climate relationships have so far been overlooked in climate policy where it relates to forest.

Trees-WaterThat, at least, is the conclusion of a new review. The authors suggest that the global conversation on trees, forests and climate needs to be turned on its head: the direct effects via rainfall and cooling may be more important than the well-studied effects through the global carbon balance.

Yet, current climate policy only recognizes the latter. While farmers understand that trees cool their homes, livestock and crops, they had to learn the complex and abstract language of greenhouse gasses and carbon stocks if they wanted to be part of climate mitigation efforts. Not anymore, if the new perspectives become widely accepted.

In the review, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, the 22 authors provide examples for the planet-cooling benefits of trees. Scientists found evidence for the widespread perception that trees and forests also influence rainfall. As such, the review insists that water, and not carbon, should become the primary motivation for adding and preserving trees in landscapes.

“Carbon sequestration is a co-benefit of the precipitation-recycling and cooling power of trees. As trees process and redistribute water, they simultaneously cool planetary surfaces”, says Dr David Ellison, lead author of the study.

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ICRAF and One Acre Fund chart way forward on trees

Originally published on the World Agroforestry Centre website.



Rubengera, Rwanda — Farmer Cecile Mukabutera , 32, looks approvingly at her small tree, one of ten she received from One Acre Fund. Its branches will eventually give her up to 30 poles per year.  These 2-3 meter poles are essential for the cultivation of climbing bean, a crop commonly grown in land-constrained Rwanda. “I can use some and sell the rest for 20 francs a piece,” she says. “I am interested in trees.”

The tree she received is a Grevillea robusta, an Australian tree that is popular in East Africa for its fast growth. It is also only slightly competitive with crops and even less so when pruned.  The mother of four has been a One Acre Fund client for seven years. “Since I joined, my farm has improved.”

Dr. Athanase Mukuralinda nods. What the farmer says tallies with what he knows. “When you manage Grevillea, you allow light to reach the crop. You also reduce water consumption when you prune,” says the representative of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Rwanda.

One Acre Fund is a nonprofit that provides its farmer clients with inputs on credit and offers frequent training in modern and sustainable agricultural techniques. The organization has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2006—it now serves more than 400,000 farmers across six countries and plans to reach 1 million by 2020.

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Engaging marginalized groups in the Greater Mekong region through action research

Originally published on the World Agroforestry Centre website.


A new publication offers researchers guidelines on how best to engage with marginalized, ethnic-minority farming communities in the Greater Mekong region, so that research innovations reach and benefit their lives and livelihoods.

The Greater Mekong region, made up of Cambodia, Laos, southwest China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, is characterized by rich ethnic diversity, but all too often, ethnic minority groups have found themselves left behind, or made worse off, by development initiatives in their countries.

Titled “Guidelines to engage with marginalized ethnic minorities in agricultural research for development in the Greater Mekong, the book is published by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) as an output of the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics.

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Tony Rinaudo: “FMNR can droughtproof the land against El Niño”

Originally published on the FMNR Hub website.

Tony Rinaudo, Natural Resources Advisor at World Vision Australia, explains in an audio interview with Lou Del Bello from SciDev.Net how the restoration technique known as Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) can help communities prepare for climate stresses.

Click here to listen to how FMNR has enabled farmers in Ethiopia cope with the extensive period of drought brought by El Niño in late 2015.