Africa presents the greatest restoration opportunity in the world, with 65% of its land affected by degradation. The consequence? 3% of annual GDP is lost due to soil and nutrient depletion on cropland. This severely affects smallholder farmers, whose livelihoods largely depend on stable weather patterns, healthy soils and tree cover, and water access. 

This is why, since 2015, 32 African countries have pledged to restore around 128 million hectares of land through the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100). This initiative is integral to meeting the emissions reduction needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. On the ground, landscape restoration in Africa leads to strengthened food security, increased farm yields and more resilient harvest, and new jobs. Local economies are boosted, and people establish sustainable livelihoods. 

Since the launch of the initiative, widespread political leadership was mobilized across AFR100 partner countries. Priority restoration areas were mapped and designated, and national plans and strategies were created. Baselines and monitoring frameworks were established to track successes and catalyze implementation.

To bring that impact to the ground, TerraFund for AFR100 has financed top 100 enterprises and community projects that are restoring land across Africa. These entrepreneurs and community-based organizations have demonstrated promising pathways to reverse the land degradation in Africa. They have proven us that there is a better way to sustain economic growth while supporting local champions to restore their land, forests, and natural ecosystems. Recent research backs this; the economic argument for regenerating land is more compelling than ever: For every $1 invested, people can expect $7 to $30 in return.

Four African restoration champions, all based in Rwanda, have revealed to us how they are joining hands to restore forests and lands while improving lives of rural farmers and fighting the impacts of climate change. As AFR100 embarks on a new chapter to catalyze $2 billion of finance for these innovators, the path they are charting is more important than ever.

Cassava Leaves: How One Small Business Helps Rwanda Farmers Restore Their Land

Shekina works with thousands of women farmers, putting at the center of its land restoration work a variety of cassava, Manihot graziovii, which keeps the soil from eroding and provides shade for other crops. This valuable resource brings wealth back to small-scale farmers and the local community when its leaves are transformed into delicious food that is sold on the local market and exported to Europe, Canada and the U.S.

Shekina has received funding from TerraFund for AFR100, which is financing Africa’s top land restoration enterprises and projects. The company is now expanding its network of smallholder farmers and restoring more land while bolstering household income and food security. This funding will allow for more precise monitoring and evaluation methods to improve the company’s accuracy in tracking its environmental impact.

Agroforestry: The Path to Prosperity for Rwanda’s Small Farmers

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) engages smallholder farmers through its “Innovation Platforms” and “Model Farms,” where partner farmers gain adequate knowledge and skills to take what they learned and apply it to their own land. In addition, ICRAF accompanies these farmers as they restore their farms as the organization scales up its work to improve the well-being of farmers and the national economy.

ICRAF has received funding from TerraFund for AFR100, which is financing Africa’s top land restoration enterprises and projects. ICRAF is now mobilizing more local communities to restore Eastern Rwanda’s degraded landscapes with a diverse selection of tree species that provide wood, fruit, animal feed, and medicinal value.

Farmers and Nature: The Perfect Combination to Fight Climate Change in Rwanda

Rwanda Environmental Conservation Organization (RECOR) restores the country’s landscapes to improve the livelihoods of communities and protect biodiversity. It works in close partnership with local authorities and champion farmers to ensure that its interventions are sustainable.

RECOR has received funding from TerraFund for AFR100, which is financing Africa’s top land restoration enterprises and projects. It is now restoring trees to degraded farmland and revitalizing the area around Rwanda’s Lake Rumira, all while building the resilience of rural smallholder farmers.

Healthy Birds, Clean Water: Restoring Rwanda’s Wetlands

This is a story of Nature Rwanda using its 3Rs Approach (Right Species, Right Beneficiary, Results) to restore wetlands and other key landscapes in Rwanda. Nature Rwanda and its partner Birdlife International have received funding from TerraFund for AFR100, which is financing Africa’s top land restoration enterprises and projects. Now, the partners are enhancing community capacity for climate resilience and restore 500 hectares of farmland and natural ecosystems around Lake Kivu and the Greater Rusizi Basin.