Since 1950, 65% of Africa’s cropland has degraded, harming the continent’s ability to feed its young and growing population. That is why, through the AFR100 Initiative, 28 African countries committed to bring 100 million hectares of land into restoration by 2030. But what does "restoring land” mean? Restoring an entire landscape is about far more than planting trees. In the second episode of our relaunched series of WRI “Big Ideas into Action” podcasts, we’re looking at how landscape restoration actually works on the ground with our focus firmly on Rwanda.
This podcast episode takes you on the ground to Kabisasa, a village in the west of the country, to see how a restoration project led by local NGO ARCOS is transforming every facet of local people’s lives, from their income to their water supply. It’s also building resilience against future shocks as the climate changes. We also visit a factory in the north of the country, where an innovative business that’s part of WRI’s Land Accelerator network, Shekina Foods, guaranteed a market for the cassava leaves that local women grow. Young people are at the center of this story, and we will hear from a youth leader in AFR100, Uwase Hirwa Honorine, who is taking the message into local schools.
For a broader understanding of how restoration and vital landscapes are helping people in Rwanda grow economically and protect the environment, we hear from WRI’s lead in Rwanda, Bernadette Arakwiye, and the Vice President and Regional Director of WRI Africa, Wanjira Mathai. Finally, for the “People of WRI” section, which looks at what motivates our colleagues here at the World Resources Institute, we hear once again from Wanjira about how her mother’s love of nature rubbed off on her from an early age.
Highlights from the Episode
“[My mother] loved trees, loved nature, she loved the soil. And I got to appreciate just how important all of those were. Once we understand to our own life, then we start to appreciate it. So she really infected me with that appreciation, with that love for nature”
“If we want to feed the population, current and future, and be able to derive all the ecosystem services from the land and the nature, we need to restore it to provide benefits to its full potential. Restoration will really play a role in ensuring food security and human well-being for now and for the future.”
“When I go to a school […] I tell them the facts. If we go out, we will be speaking about entertainment, good food, good destinations. But we tend to forget that the good food, the good destinations, everything we enjoy in this life, depends on the environment around us.”
Uwase Hirwa Honorine, AFR100 Youth Ambassador and founder of Rwanda’s youth restoration movement
“[Kabisasa is in] a mountain area, and the government and the partners are promoting the terraces. What the farmers are doing on those terraces is damaged by erosion if there are no trees.”
Jacqueline Ntukamazina, Head, Programme Operations and Partnerships Management at ARCOS
“Now that we know we can sell [cassava leaves] to the factory, we’ve been able to plant more bushes and that’s meant more money for us. We use the money to buy food and clothes for our children, pay the school fees, and even buy some animals”
Manirafasha Madeline, cassava farmer
“We work with around 2,000 women farmers. [Their] cooperatives are managed by 100 girls. We are injecting around $50,000 every year in their community.”
Pierre Damien Mbatezimana, Director of Shekina Foods