on November 1, 2013
We’ve hit our campaign target of raising $30,000!
We have reached our Sharing Innovation campaign goal of $30,000 so will receive the maximum EU funding and be able to start the next phase of work on the Rural Innovation Campus in Pemba. Contributions are still rolling in, so we will have some extra money for special projects. Thank you to all of our supporters who made this happen! Stay tuned – we’ll keep you posted on the final campaign total later this month and with updates on the work in Pemba.
We couldn’t have done this without your support!
on October 13, 2013
Imagine if the solution to climate change came from the people that need it the most?
Community Forests International has sparked a wave of innovation. Pembans across the island are now growing food between planted rows of trees. They’re bringing bees into their forests in order to improve pollination and provide honey. Houses are being built from earth blocks, a sustainable alternative to both traditional mud huts and modern cement bricks. Communities that felt ashamed to be living in mud huts now have a modern style home. Women are growing food outside their kitchen doors. Villages are making an alternative to charcoal by pressing organic waste material. Cook-stove innovation has cut the need for wood as a cooking fuel, and the time spent gathering it, in half. As climate change threatens our planet’s communities, Pembans are working to adapt how they work and live on the land. By diversifying livelihoods and transitioning to more sustainable, appropriate technologies, villages are building resilient communities. Pembans have changed their communities and have provided an example of how sustainable a village can be.
Let’s change as the world changes around us http://igg.me/at/Pemba/x/2193394
on October 11, 2013
People are the engines of global change. Community leaders bring change into their villages and inspire the whole community.
Chema Juma wakes up in the morning and cooks breakfast for her 6 children. She starts the cooking fire with a charcoal substitute made from sawdust and leaves. Water boils on a clay stove that she made and fired with her own two hands. When she leaves the house she stops at the community nursery. Some days she weeds the avocado, acacia and teak seedlings. Other days she’s transplanting lemon seedlings or grafting mangos. Chema and her extending family cultivate over 10 acres of maize, peanuts, millet and watermelons within their planted forest – that’s the equivalent of over 10 football fields of produce. They tend the fields by hand. Chema has been planting trees with People are the engines of global change. Community leaders bring change into their Community Forests International since 2008 and her forest is a showcase for the island. Originally planted for timber, the forest has transitioned into a dynamic forest ecosystem. Teeming with wildlife, Chema’s forest has several varieties of shrubs and trees, all of varying ages and height, providing critical shade to her food crops. Chema has grown a forest.
“Life here is hard. We are always working in order to provide for our lives, for our families. Before working with Community Forests International we had nothing in our village. Our men would fish in order to get something to eat. Now we work on the land.”
- Chema Juma, Treasurer of the Vitongoji Tree-planting Cooperative, Vitongoji
Please check out our campaign at http://igg.me/at/Pemba/x/2193394
on October 9, 2013
An idea becomes reality. As that idea passes from village to village it is adapted to meet the unique needs of the place.
Community Forests International and their community partners realized that the way Pembans cooked, on an open flame set between three stones, was incredibly hard on both the environment and human health. One day, a woman named Salma came to the organization’s office and told of a simple clay stove she’d been making and enquired if it might be something that CFI wanted to share. After testing out the design, CFI invited 20 women from rural villages to come and receive cook stove training from Salma. These 20 women returned to their homes and have since taught another 120 women. Collectively they have built over 600 stoves. These stoves use half the amount of wood as the conventional method, reducing the impact on the environment and saving women hours each week spent collecting wood for fuel. Stove producers have been selling surplus stoves and have been improving the original model for efficiency and style.
“I am a carpenter in Pemba. When I was working on the school roof in Kokota I saw the stoves the village was making. I asked CFI to come to my village, Hindi, in order to teach us how to make them. Now we make stoves but we also plant trees and maize.”
- Fundi Saleh, Carpenter, Hindi
Help share this stove design with the world http://igg.me/at/Pemba/x/2193394
on October 7, 2013
Tree planting is an act for the future, an act of stewardship that transcends the present. In order to plant a tree for the future, we must secure the now.
In 2011 Community Forests International visited a small islet off of Pemba called Kokota, in order to see if the village wanted to participate in the organization’s tree-planting effort. Although the interest was high and the village was excited to get started, one woman stood up during a community meeting and voiced an important question, ‘How can we grow trees if we don’t have water?’ The village of Kokota had no source for fresh water, as drilled wells had found only salt water. The community faced other challenges. They had no school, no electricity and no local food production. The community had started to build a school but had run out of funds before a roof could be put on the building. CFI provided the materials and the community provided the transportation and labour. Each day boats would ply the 2-hour stretch between Pemba and Kokota, moving sand, water, cement, steel roofing and bricks. After months of community-led effort a roof was put on the school, serving to shelter the students and collect much-needed rainwater. The villages didn’t stop there. With CFI support the community has built a solar energy grid, planted over 15 acres of food crops, planted 52,000 trees, built fuel-efficient cook stoves and have begun constructing homes from earth blocks. Communities have even eliminated the need to cut trees for charcoal by using a wooden press to compact organic waste material into burnable briquettes that can be used for cooking.
“In order to build the water tank Kokotan’s had to dig down a meter through hard coral rock. They worked from sunup to sundown with pick axes chipping away for over a month. I’ve never seen so people work so hard, the need was so high. We worked hard and in the end we transformed Kokota into a model of sustainability.”
- Jeff Schnurr, Co-founder and executive director, Community Forests International
Let’s make Kokota a model for community-led change around the world http://igg.me/at/Pemba/x/2193394
on October 5, 2013
1,000,000 Pemban Trees can’t be wrong.
Communities have changed their landscape, signaling the power of a good idea and the willingness to work for what you believe in.
Pembans have worked together to plant over a million trees since 2007 and it shows. Once-degraded lands now team with wildlife, diversity and environmental health. Several of the villages have seen birds and butterflies within their forests that haven’t been sighted in generations. The forests are here to stay. Even the villages that initially wanted to plant trees for timber have opted to leave their forests for the shade and wildlife habitat they provide. Community Forests International now works with over 30 different types of trees, from food trees like mango, lemon, limes and papaya to trees for building houses and boats including black mahogany, moringa, acacia and teak. Over 1800 Pembans participate in Community Forests International’s tree-planting movement, demonstrating the power of our planet’s rural communities and their ability to make global change.
“We have planted these trees because we want to help our families. To provide incomes and food but we have planted also because we want our children to know these trees”
- Fatma Rashid Seif, community member and tree planter, Pujini, Tanzania.
Please support us as we work to share the hard work of Pembans with the world http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sharing-innovation/x/2193394
on October 4, 2013
With generous support from the European Union through the Global Climate Change Alliance Community Forests International and Community Forests Pemba have been working together to help rural Pembans adapt to climate change. Check out this video highlighting the project.
on October 3, 2013
Empowered Pembans make their own change.
Community Forests International incubates ideas and the innovation grows. Several individuals working together can change a landscape.
In 2006, Canadian tree-planter Jeff Schnurr was living on the island of Pemba, Tanzania. Most Pembans were amazed that the twenty-one year old Canadian could make a living planting trees but believed that tree-planting was something they could never achieve on their own island. Mbarouk Mussa Omar was different. In 2007, Mbarouk approached Jeff and asked if he thought that Pembans could plant trees. The duo began traveling to rural villages in order to gauge interest. Some communities didn’t want to move away from traditional mainstays of fishing and sustenance agriculture, but some villages did. Some villages wanted to halt eroding coastlines while others wanted to plant trees for timber or fruit. With limited financial support, seven villages began collecting seed and growing trees within simple nurseries built from locally available materials and Community Forests International was born. In 2008 over 100,000 trees were planted and the Pemban landscape began to transform.
“We started with an idea and then worked each and every day with nothing. We had no vehicle, no office and no funds but still we worked to support our community. Each village picked the trees they wanted to grow and we supported them to find the seeds.”
- Mbarouk Mussa Omar, Co-founder and Pemba Director, Community Forests International
If you’d like to support our campaign to share our work with the world please visit http://igg.me/at/Pemba/x/2193394
on September 30, 2013
When we started working on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania, things were different. Traditionally Pembans fished. Land was used for building homes, producing charcoal and sustenance agriculture. The eastern half of the island was deforested, the soil was damaged, agriculture was limited to a few staple crops and most of the food people ate was imported. Pembans didn’t believe that they had the tools to change that. Years of international development had led them to believe that there was something wrong with how they lived, that there was a better way, but the expertise required to change their lives had to come from away.
Community Forests International believed in Pembans.
We believed that they had the tools to make the change they dreamed of. We started with trees. The last seven years have seen a transformation in Pemba, wrought by Pembans and supported by Community Forests International. The story of that transformation will be told over the next few weeks. Reforestation helped mend the soil and shelter food crops. Growing more food led to finding better ways of cooking that food. Better cooking was followed by developing better sources of drinking water and sustainable sources of electricity.
Pembans now believe in themselves and their island shows it. We believe their approach could change the world as we fight climate change and environmental degradation.
The European Union has been supporting our work and they want to help us share our efforts with people from other communities in Africa and beyond. We are now working to build a Rural Innovation Campus, a place to continue to pilot innovation while sharing our work with others around the world. The European Union is willing to extend their funding to complete and launch our campus, but ten percent of the project funds must come from us. Every dollar that CFI can raise, between now and October 31, 2013, will be matched by nine dollars from the EU. A hundred dollars will become a thousand; all funds up to $30,000 will multiplied by ten. The resulting $300,000 will finish the campus, pay local experts to teach, fund pilot projects and provide bursaries for two thousand participants. It will allow us to show the world exactly how good rural innovation can be.
Over the next few weeks we will be telling our story – and why the success of the Rural Innovation Campus is important. Please check out our campaign at http://igg.me/at/Pemba/x/2193394
We need your support. Please share our effort widely. Pembans and rural communities everywhere need you. Our planet needs your support.
on September 24, 2013
How do you respond when natural habitats are destroyed and clear, pure freshwater is polluted? It’s the sort of problem we address almost daily at CFI; sometimes with our partners in Tanzania and sometimes closer to home. Last fall, insult was added to injury when a clear cut logging operation on public land near Whaelghinbran started causing large amounts of silt to travel over our land and into the brook that flows through the heart of our farm. The silt is a form of pollution -it makes the clear brook water run dark brown and it’s capable of clogging fish gills and suffocating their eggs.
Founder of Whaelghinbran Farm, Susan Tyler, installing a protective silt barrier.
We witnessed firsthand a breach in the loggers’ temporary silt barriers last weekend (click here to watch the video). Confronted with yet another severe siltation event impacting the Whaelghinbran brook, CFI put out a call for help and took action with friends and supporters. Together, with a lot of hard work and sweat, we constructed a contoured hay bale barrier to halt further siltation of the brook. And in true CFI fashion we designed the barrier to work with nature over time, to grow into a living terrace capable of buffering future siltation events naturally.
The barrier runs on contour (level across the slope) to create a stable terrace . . .
. . . catching and storing silt on land where it belongs.
Exhausted, but feeling good about good work.
Thank you to everyone who helped out – digging trenches, driving stakes, and spreading bales – we couldn’t have done it without your energy and support.