Equator Prize 2014 Winners
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Laurels ENThe Equator Initiative is pleased to announce today the winners of the Equator Prize 2014. Each of these thirty-five initiatives represents outstanding local achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

Following a global call for nominations, the Equator Initiative received a record-setting 1,234 nominations from 121 countries around the world. An extensive review process guided by our Technical Advisory Committee of international experts was undertaken over the last several months, concluding today with the announcement of the thirty-five winners.

While diverse in their innovations and areas of work, each winner demonstrates community-based, grassroots action to address environment, poverty and climate change challenges head-on. Twenty-six winners will be supported to attend a high-level awards ceremony in New York on Monday, September 22nd 2014 as a contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit.

Please find below summaries on each of the Equator Prize 2014 winners. Click the organization name for a description of the initiative.


 Asia and the Pacific

Alliance for Integrated Development – Nepal


Developed as a response to the overexploitation of natural resources, wildlife poaching and water pollution, the Alliance for Integrated Development is a collective of women-led community wetlands user groups that protects and manages the resources of Jagadishpur, an ‘important bird area’, a Ramsar site, and the largest manmade reservoir in Nepal. The alliance works to create sustainable livelihoods while also maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in this wetland ecosystem. Agro-forestry, organic farming, ecotourism and anti-poaching activities are improving incomes in ways that also protect several bird species (including migratory birds, vultures and cranes) that are on the verge of extinction. Radio programming and grassroots awareness-raising campaigns have sensitized the public to the links between wetland health and human wellbeing. Led primarily by women, the initiative has managed to control illegal hunting, promote organic farming, create a revolving fund, build a functioning and equitable irrigation system, and substantially improve and diversify local livelihoods.

Traditional Healer’s Association, Chhattisgarh – India


In a region characterized by hunger and malnutrition, poor water and hygiene, and high communicable disease rates, the Chhattisgarh Traditional Healer Association is taking an inventive approach reducing infant mortality, improving maternal health, and facilitating local access to medical care. The association empowers “village botanists” to serve as agents of positive community-level change by showing them how to use traditional medicinal plants to meet modern medical needs. Work also focuses on getting formal scientific certification to traditional medicines that are proving effective in treating fever, colds, arthritis, malaria, gastro-intestinal diseases, and a range of public health concerns. Health services are provided to more than 50,000 families across 500 villages in 12 districts, and the average medical costs in communities served has been reduced by 70 percent. More than one million trees and half a million medicinal seedlings have been planted in 100 villages, restoring rare and threatened flora and fauna and improving local health and livelihoods in the process.

Conservation Area Management Committee, Parche – Nepal


With the aim of sustainably managing local forests, the Conservation Area Management Committee, Parche is applying indigenous knowledge to local environment and development challenges. In addition to establishing tree nurseries and working with communities to harvest non-timber forest products, the organization has reduced wildlife poaching and is providing alternative energy access for the local population. More than 200,000 trees have been planted and over 100 micro-hydro units installed to generate sustainable energy. The committee is also working to sustainably and equitably manage water resources in way that facilitates local access to fresh drinking water. A focus on environmental education, with a particular emphasis on children and youth, is ensuring local ownership and awareness of conservation activities.

The Pendeba Society of the Tibet Autonomous Region – China


To safeguard the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve – an area roughly the size of Switzerland – this grassroots initiative employs locally-nominated volunteers (pendebas) from each of the 406 villages within the protected area to promote environmental conservation, improve family health, advance options for income generation, and organize collective action for common goods. Together, the pendebas initiative has helped decrease child mortality by 50%, reduce deforestation by 80%, and protect threatened species of endangered wildlife, including populations of the snow leopard, Tibetan wild ass, and Tibetan antelope. Pendebas have mobilized their villages to improve water and sanitation services, protect wetlands and water sources from livestock, establish hundreds of tree nurseries and reforestation campaigns, spread the use of solar energy, and prevent the killing of endangered animals. Activities are carried out with a strong sense of partnership within the communities and with local governments. At the roof of the world, with six of the planet’s highest peaks, the initiative is helping to safeguard a climate change hotspot, a wetland ecosystem, and the health and wellbeing of local communities.

Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program – Papua New Guinea


The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program is a community conservation area and locally-owned forest, the first of its kind in Papua New Guinea. The locally-driven initiative undertakes a range of activities to protect the watershed and provide the local population with sustainable livelihoods. The conservation area covers 78,729 hectares of habitat, protecting endemic and endangered wildlife species, including the tree kangaroo. The organization has partnered with the private sector and the government on a conservation livelihoods program and a coffee harvesting project, which has brought in more than USD 20,000. Revenues from this program have been invested into community health, education and conservation projects. The initiative represents a unique model of community mobilization and leadership, and is the first time that the diverse collection of indigenous communities involved in the initiative have come together to advance a shared conservation and sustainable livelihoods agenda.

Tulele Peisa – Papua New Guinea


Facing sea level rise, food shortages due to saltwater flooding, and other threats associated with climate change, this council of chiefs has organized for the voluntary relocation of the indigenous peoples of the Carteret Islands. This is one of the first community-driven ‘climate change refugee’ relocation efforts in the region. Sustainable natural resource management is at the center of Tulele Peisa's work. The council engages with host communities on the “mainland” of Tinputz to ensure adequate land, infrastructure, and livelihoods opportunities for relocated people. It is also ensuring that links are maintained with the culture, land and resources of the Carteret Islands. The community-based approach to relocation offers a positive resettlement model for other atolls in the region, and has had the unexpected benefit of improving inter-island trade, which is serving to enhance local resilience and livelihoods.


Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Mediterranean Conservation Society – Turkey


Developed in response to marine ecosystem degradation, declining fish diversity and abundance, and associated losses to fishermen's incomes, the Mediterranean Conservation Society has created a network of ‘no fishing zones’ that put local fishing communities in the lead of marine biodiversity conservation. Focusing on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, the organization is enforcing ‘no take zones’ and effectively communicating the value of sustainable fishing techniques in ensuring the long-term viability of the local fishing industry. Community-based enforcement strategies are complemented by cooperation with regional and national authorities. Fish stocks have grown dramatically, as have the average incomes of cooperative members. Patrolling activities confirm rejuvenated marine species diversity and abundance in the bay, an important nursing ground for species that include sandbar sharks.

Water is Hope – Tajikistan


Working with nine downstream villages that have collectively faced severe water shortages, extreme droughts, and seasonal crop failures, Water is Hope has established an equitable water distribution system based on traditional water rights, distribution rules, and the communal maintenance of local water infrastructure. The grassroots initiative has reintroduced traditional water management institutions (eroded during the Soviet era) that create specific rights, duties and functions for community-elected water canal custodians. These custodians ensure the fair distribution of water resources among the villages. This is a best practice in local governance and community-based decision-making, with more than 5,000 active community members contributing to regular group meetings, trainings and local infrastructure projects. Designed as a response to growing climate stresses, water resource conflicts, and the need for better irrigation systems and farming practices, Water is Hope is improving access to drinking water through a model of local self-reliance and community-based action.


Latin America and the Caribbean

Asociación Comunitaria “Bolívar Tello Cano” Ecuador


Asociación Comunitaria “Bolívar Tello Cano” is reducing deforestation by providing a sustainable income-generation activity for local indigenous communities that does not require cutting down trees. The association has worked with researchers to pioneer a technique to extract the essential oils from the seeds of the Palo Santo tree. The oil has commercial value for use in perfumes and food flavoring, and is being harvested and marketed by a community-owned company. Association activities have created jobs, improved local livelihoods and reduced pressure on surrounding forests. A 4,500-hectare protected area has been created for sustainable harvesting activities, which has substantially reduced illegal logging. The association is a leading example of a community-driven partnership between indigenous communities, government and the private sector.

Asociación de Capitanes Indígenas de Yaigojé Apaporis – Colombia

 website Apaporis Colombia

An alliance of 21 indigenous communities, Asociación de Capitanes Indígenas de Yaigojé Apaporis has legally established its collective territory as a National Park. The association has succeeded in protecting a substantial area of forest and put natural resource management in the hands of resident indigenous communities. Developed to protect forests and community lands from multinational mining companies, the association focuses on traditional land management practices that balance the economic needs of forest-dependent communities with ecosystem restoration and wildlife conservation concerns. A community-driven research program is ensuring that indigenous communities living on the margins of the Amazon of Yaigojé are gathering valuable environmental and wildlife data to better understand the ecological dynamics of the territory and how to advance sustainable livelihoods while also ensuring the health and functioning of forest ecosystems.

Asociación de de Mujeres Waorani de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana – Ecuador


Developed in response to the uncontrolled poaching of wildlife in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve (driven by local demand for bushmeat), Asociación de Mujeres Waorani de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana is promoting organic cocoa cultivation as a wildlife protection measure and a pathway to local sustainable development. The association has created a land management plan that emphasizes zero deforestation, organic cocoa certification as a primary economic driver, and the management of subsistence hunting activities to protect threatened and vulnerable wildlife species. Community cocoa is processed into organic-certified chocolate, creating local access to new markets and more lucrative revenue streams. The association has been so successful at reorienting the local economy that the bushmeat market has been closed down. Women lead both organic farming and business management activities. Organic cocoa cultivation is complemented by activities in fish farming, fruit tree cultivation, and the operation of tree nurseries, which support both food security and reforestation needs. Revenues from the cocoa business have been invested into local education, health and infrastructure projects.

Comunidad Indígena de Manquemapu – Chile


An indigenous community conserved area, Comunidad Indígena de Manquemapu works on sustainable forest management and marine resource conservation as a way of meeting the economic needs of resident indigenous communities. Born of external threats from extractive industries, this community-based group is effectively managing a large area of larch wood forest by focusing on sustainable production practices and the marketing of local products. Working in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the community has established a fisherman union to monitor fishing practices along the coast and ensure sustainability standards are met. A revolving fund has been established to create small-scale enterprises, while organization revenues are invested back into local health and education projects.

Jeffrey Town Farmers' Association – Jamaica


Developed in response to land degradation, natural disasters, and irregular water supply, Jeffrey Town Farmers' Association employs a multi-media approach to inform and educate farming communities on alternative energy options, sustainable agriculture techniques and disaster risk reduction. The association focuses on pineapple farming, water harvesting, and reforestation. Fruit-bearing trees are prioritized in land restoration efforts to ensure food security. Community incomes have improved through a range of alternative livelihoods activities that include livestock rearing, fruit cultivation, and agro-forestry. Pineapple plants have been used to stabilize hillsides that were previously susceptible to landslides, which caused environmental and economic damage to local communities. Demonstration plots are used for farmer training activities, particularly around drought-resistant crops. Solar street lights have been introduced in four communities and a new health facility was built to meet local medical needs.

Koolel-Kab/Muuchkambal – Mexico


Founded by Mayan women, Koolel-Kab/Muuchkambal is an organic farming and agroforestry initiative that works on forest conservation (they established a 5,000-hectare community forest), promoting indigenous land rights, environmental education, and community-level disaster risk reduction strategies. The association advocates for public policies that stop deforestation and offer alternatives to input-intensive commercial agriculture. An organic beekeeping model has been shared across more than 20 communities, providing an economic alternative to illegal logging. Drawing on Mayan identity, the initiative is a best practice in multi-stakeholder dialogue, forest protection, and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). The initiative recently won a legal battle with the State government which ensures Mayan communities have to be consulted before large-scale agricultural projects can be approved.

Mouvman Peyizan 3e Seksyon Kanperen – Haiti


An initiative focused on yam cultivation, the Mouvman Peyizan 3e Seksyon Kanperen (Farmer Movement of the 3rd Section of Camp-Perrin, in English) works with more than 1,500 farmers to build technical capacity, improve food security, facilitate access to seeds, and otherwise improve on-farm productivity. More than 500,000 yam seedlings have been distributed to local yam producers, along with training on soil fertility and the use of natural insecticides to deal with caterpillar infestations in a way that does not result in chemical-intensive inputs into the local environment. In participating communities, incomes have increased by 400 percent since transitioning from corn and bean crops to yam cultivation. In exchange for yam seedlings, farmers are required to plant trees on their farms, increasing tree cover and biodiversity.


Middle East and North Africa

Al-Heswa Wetland Protected Area – Yemen


The communities behind Al-Heswa Wetland Protected Area have successfully transformed a garbage dump into a functioning wetland ecosystem that provides a breeding site more than 100 migratory bird species, including flamingos. As a result, the Aden wetlands have grown into among the most important wetland ecosystems in Yemen and in the entire region. The community-managed protected area redirects treated wastewater away from the sea to local farms, improving natural fertilization and reducing negative impacts on marine habitats. An entry fee system has been introduced to capitalize on ecotourism interest and ensure adequate revenues to effectively manage the protected area. Local livelihoods have improved, with jobs created in the areas of natural resource management, apiculture, small-scale business, and ecosystem restoration. Communities living adjacent to the protected area are leading monitoring and evaluation activities, regulating access, and ensuring that the restoration of this ecosystem is also creating sustainable livelihoods.

Association de Gestion Intégrée des Ressources – Morocco


A response to high rates of poverty, poor access to basic social services, and low employment opportunities, this association is working to strengthen the small-scale fisheries sector around Al-Hoceima National Park through capacity building, the establishment of monitoring and surveillance committees to combat illegal fishing and the introduction of sustainable fishing techniques (and elimination of illegal fishing practices). Communities are positioned as leaders in creating marine resource management plans and strategies. A sustainable fishing cooperative has improved local fishermen incomes and generated more than EUR 650,000 of revenue since it was launched. The group has created successful prohibitions on illegal fishing (including dynamite fishing, driftnets, etc.) through community monitoring systems. The use of geo-location devices has significantly reduced trawling in coastal breeding areas and led to the protection of over 1,900 hectares of coastal and marine biodiversity.

Union of Agricultural Work Committees – Palestine


One of the oldest non-profit organizations in the Palestinian Territories, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees supports Palestinian farmers to market their produce, develop agriculture and water resource protection programs, and restore and irrigate their lands. Agricultural extension services are used to train farmers in improved farming practices. The centerpiece of the initiative is a National Bank for Local Seeds, which dries, processes, stores, and documents local seeds with the vision of more organic, healthy and environmentally friendly produce. The seed bank currently has in its storage unit 270 entries from 36 agricultural products, belonging to 12 plant families. Families relying on dry-farmed crops have free access to seeds, with the understanding that double the amount be reinvested in the bank for other farmers once crops have been planted.


Sub-Saharan Africa

Amical Bè Ôko – Central African Republic


Created as a response to land degradation issues resulting from slash-and-burn agriculture, uncontrolled bush fires, and overgrazing, Amical Bè Ôko is a two-village initiative that focuses on reforestation of the degraded banks of the Kpaya River with fruit-bearing trees that are improving local health, nutrition, and food security. Reforestation efforts have restored ecosystem functioning in this once degraded landscape. Bambara groundnuts are combined with oil from the fruit of raffia trees to make protein-rich milk for children, meeting a critical health need in the villages. The initiative has transformed local fishing practices, improved social cohesion, facilitated fresh water access, restored the river shoreline, and responded to a food security crisis, all with local resources. The natural cycles of the Kpaya River have normalized, providing local communities with water access during the dry season.

Association des Pépiniéristes et Planteurs de Tône-Ouest Togo

reboisement des lycéens RIC2N - c smallEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Family farming and mushroom cultivation are the twin tools of Association des Pépiniéristes et Planteurs de Tône-Ouest in responding to the land degradation, low agricultural yields, and high rates of poverty that has resulted from decades of slash-and-burn farming. Mushroom farming – a traditional farming practice that had fallen into disuse due to deforestation – has been successfully reintroduced in this dryland ecosystem to address poverty, improve soil fertility, promote organic agriculture, and reduce incidence of fires during the dry season. Local incomes have doubled, with new revenue streams invested in over 90 villages into education, health, and child care. Association activities have helped to reduce bush fires and uncontrolled logging and restore soil fertility. The group has also undertaken reforestation efforts in 17 communities that have improved forest cover and restored ecosystem functioning.

Association Tchadienne des Volontaires pour la Protection de l'Environnement Chad

Chad 2 smallEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Association Tchadienne des Volontaires pour la Protection de l'Environnement was developed to address land and resource rights for women, in response to drought, desertification, and land degradation, and focuses on training in ecosystem restoration, drought preparedness, and agroforestry. Land rights are negotiated with local chiefs so that women assume management of degraded plots, which are then restored to become more productive. Training in agroforestry and the manufacture of solar cooking stoves provides women with alternative livelihood options. Youth are trained and serve as ambassadors in the wider community – public, political and religious realms – to sensitize people to the importance of environmental conservation and land rights for women. Farm production has tripled, which has served to reduce out-migration, particularly of youth.

Association Zoramb Naagtaaba Burkina Faso

Burkina FasoEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Developed in response to water scarcity, environmental degradation, declining agricultural yields and high rates of poverty, Association Zoramb Naagtaaba brings together 10 villages to restore degraded land through the reintroduction of traditional agricultural approaches. In demonstration plots set up by local farmers, sorghum yields have tripled and space has been created for farmers to learn first-hand about pond and hedge techniques that restore land and improve productivity. In 2013 plant production increased by 55 percent and sales increased by 153 percent compared to 2012. Hedgerows have been used to recover storm water without any further erosion to the land. Tree-planting efforts are improving soil fertility and reducing run-off and degradation. Solar electric fences are used to protect crops from grazing livestock, while agricultural extension services are provided to reach farmers working their own land.

Fédération des Unions de Producteurs de Maradi Gaskiya Niger

BILD0198-cEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Fédération des Unions de Producteurs de Maradi Gaskiya is a research-driven initiative that is bringing agro-ecological options to smallholder farmers. Composed of 17 unions, 325 self-help groups, and 12,742 members, the work includes promotion of high-yield crops, participatory planning, marketing of produce and organic certified seeds, and the diversification of agricultural production systems. Farmer incomes have improved significantly, with a percentage of union revenues invested into a revolving fund for community projects. Fast-growing and off-season crops are being introduced to provide food security and alternative sources of income for local women. Community radio has been used as a medium for information exchange, knowledge transfer and education.

Heiveld Co-operative South Africa

SSA-126-Document4-cEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Since 2001 Heiveld Co-operative has worked with small-scale rooibos tea farmers to provide organic and fair trade certification, as well as support with market access. In response to climate variability, farmers are cultivating drought-resistant varieties of rooibos. Collaborative work with research institutes has led to an industry-wide code of conduct on the sustainable harvesting and production of rooibos. The cooperative invests revenues back into community water access, education and health projects. Local tea farming incomes have increased by 400 percent, while soil erosion has been reduced in thousands of hectares of drylands where the tea is cultivated.

Integrated Development in Focus Ghana

DSCF1751-cEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

By equipping women with financial and technical resources to restore degraded lands and develop small-scale enterprises, Integrated Development in Focus is improving crop yields and local incomes. Women-led groups have planted three million trees and restored 350 hectares of land. Communal labor prepares and maintains individual plots of land on a rotating basis. Farmers are trained in organic farming techniques and supported to access new and more lucrative markets for their produce. Growth is ensured through a model whereby each woman who receives training is responsible for training five other women as a condition of support. Small-scale businesses have been launched in livestock rearing, composting and organic vegetable cultivation. Partnerships with local municipalities, chiefs and elders support fire management and environmental watchdog committees.

Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre Zambia

 website Kasisi ZambiaEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Reaching over 10,000 small-scale farmers, Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre provides agricultural extension services, research, and support marketing local products to local farmers. Demonstration plots are used for hands-on learning and for agricultural research. The center maintains a production site where dairy cows, sheep and other livestock are raised and the milk is sold to a neighboring cheese factory. Through extension services and direct training to farmers, the center has helped improve local maize yields to levels well above the national average, resulting in greater food security and improved incomes. Crop rotation, reforestation, new irrigation schemes and agricultural diversification have all contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of local ecosystems. Biodiversity fairs have been used to help farmers share knowledge on crop diversity, apiculture, and agroforestry techniques. The center oversees a village savings initiative, which has allowed several women to start small-scale enterprises.

Makoni Organic Farmers Association – Zimbabwe


An organic farming cooperative developed to transition away from tobacco cultivation and chemical-intensive agriculture, Makoni Organic Farmers Association is an initiative of 450 farmers uses a three-pronged approach of capacity building (organic standards and techniques), scaling of good farming practices (in apiculture, mushroom cultivation, poultry rearing, and tree nurseries), and organic certification to improve local livelihoods and restore degraded land. The introduction of alternative organic livelihood options – along with the introduction of organic certification standards – have helped local farmers increase incomes and facilitated access to new, more lucrative markets. Where tobacco cultivation and pesticide use had rendered much of the agricultural land infertile, organic farming and the planting of multi-purpose trees have improved food security and nutrition, soil fertility, and biodiversity.

Matumizi Bora ya Malihai Idodi na Pawaga (MBOMIPA) Wildlife Management Area – Tanzania

DSC04784 - cEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

A community wildlife management association of 22 villages, Matumizi Bora ya Malihai Idodi na Pawaga (MBOMIPA) Wildlife Management Area works with the 30,000 people living adjacent to Ruaha National Park on sustainable natural resource management and anti-poaching efforts. The association has brought community livelihoods focused on wildlife protection into harmony with biodiversity conservation and environmental stewardship. Revenue has been invested into health, education, and infrastructure. Ecotourism increased income tenfold in 2011. The association has adopted a “human rights of wildlife” approach, where the protection of wildlife is central to community wellbeing. Living fences are used to support food security by keeping elephants and other wildlife from destroying crops. MBOMIPA Wildlife Management Area is recognized as best practice in Tanzania and is being replicated in other regions to protect wildlife and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Northern Rangelands Trust – Kenya

Kenya - northern rangelands 4ccEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Northern Rangelands Trust is a network of 26 community conservancies – which together cover over 25,000 km² of land in northern Kenya – driving a movement of community-based conservation that puts indigenous communities at the forefront of land management, wildlife conservation, and sustainable livestock practices. Supporting more than 280,000 pastoralists, the trust has helped address endemic problems ranging from droughts, ethnic rivalries, a lack of access to government services (health and education), and wildlife poaching. New revenue streams through livelihoods diversification and improved land management practices have been directed towards local education and health infrastructure. Hundreds of hectares of degraded pasture have been restored, along with a degree of peace and economic stability in this historically volatile region.

Organisation pour l’Environnement et le Développement Durable – Cameroon


Focused on women-led restoration of the degraded mangroves of the Equatorial African Rainforest, Organisation pour l’Environnement et le Développement Durable is transforming the local fishing industry by providing energy-efficient alternatives to cutting down trees to smoke fish, a primary driver of mangrove forest loss in the region. Interventions are reducing deforestation, improving women’s health, and expanding local incomes. A range of alternative production and processing techniques – improved kilns, alternative energy sources, and using herbs instead of mangrove wood – are ensuring the regeneration and conservation of local mangrove forests. These new processing techniques are also reducing the amount of time spent foraging for wood, as well as the frequency of respiratory illness. Incomes have improved by 33 percent, while deforestation rates are down by 90 percent.

Plate-forme de Concertation pour le Développement Durable de la Baie d’Antongil – Madagascar


Working in and around Antongil Bay – the largest in Madagascar and among the most productive in the Indian Ocean – the Plate-forme de Concertation pour le Développement Durable de la Baie d’Antongil brings together a diverse range of stakeholders to encourage the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources. Developed to address conflicts between artisanal and industrial fishing interests, declining fish populations, damage to marine ecosystems from illegal fishing and damaging devices, and the conversion of mangroves to rice fields, this multi-stakeholder platform is the first of its kind in the country and is providing a space for dialogue and coordinated resource management. Fish size and abundance has grown, endemic species have reappeared, marine ecosystem functioning has been restored, artisanal fishermen have been empowered, local incomes have improved, and a viable conflict resolution mechanism now guides resource access and use.

Shewula Trust – Swaziland

 website Shewula SwazilandEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

In response to high levels of poverty and unemployment this community of 13,000 people in the Lubombo Mountains decided to set aside more than 2,650 hectares of its land as a conservation area and ecotourism project. A tourism camp is managed by the community, with revenues invested into indigenous plant nurseries, wildlife management, and anti-poaching measures. Revenues have been invested into local schools, health clinics, and a community resource center. The camp has created a market for local food and handicraft products. Support has been provided to local farmers working with indigenous, drought-resistant crops and an environmental education program is helping reduce incidents of poaching in neighboring parks.

Union des Associations Villageoises de Gestion des Réserves de Faune Pendjari Benin

BeninEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

In the buffer zone of the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in northwest Benin, Union des Associations Villageoises de Gestion des Réserves de Faune Pendjari is moving the cotton industry towards organic and fair trade practices. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers were having deleterious effects on ecosystems and human health so the union is promoting organic certification as a pathway to sustainable development. While organic cotton fields produce smaller yields, the cotton can be sold at a higher price and farmers do not have to absorb the costs associated with chemical fertilizers. By investing in organic cotton, the association is creating a sustainable market supply chain for more than 450 producer groups. Crop rotation has improved food security and complements the cotton cash crop economy.

Uplift the Rural Poor – Uganda


Founded to improve the livelihoods of communities living adjacent to a series of three protected areas, Uplift the Rural Poor works to reduce pressure on forest resources and an important gorilla habitat, while also creating alternative livelihood strategies. The organization focuses on capacity building, community-driven participatory planning and monitoring, bamboo domestication and tree planting, potato farming, and safe water access. The primary achievement has been strengthening the relationship between rural communities and protected area management authorities responsible for Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks and the Echuya Forest Reserve. The group effectively supports community participation in natural resource management and local development plans, putting decision-making authority in the hands of forest-dependent communities. Rainwater harvesting tanks (owned and operated mostly by women) have been built in 17 water-stressed communities. A series of village savings and loans programs has helped to create small-scale businesses, while also reducing debt and reliance on moneylenders.

Utooni Development Organization – Kenya

DSC08944-001-csmallEquator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Utooni Development Organization uses the innovative, low-investment “sand dam” technology in the communities of southern Kenya. Over 80 self-help groups were formed and 2700 farmers trained in water management, food security, sustainable agriculture, tree planting, and alternative income generation. Over 1500 sand dams have been built - concrete walls built around seasonal rivers that store water in sand, raising the water table, and increasing the size of local aquifers and availability of clean water. This low-cost technology hedges against droughts so communities can manage water resources in harmony with local ecosystems. Tree cover, bird populations, fish stocks, and farmer incomes have all increased as a result.