Sharing Innovation for a Planet in Need

by Community Forests International 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 We need your support. Please share our effort widely. Pembans and rural communities everywhere need you. Our planet needs your support.

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