At Tree Aid, we review all of our work and learn from it to maximise our impact. We have a passion for continually improving how we work so that we can support communities across the drylands of Africa in the best way possible, helping them to tackle poverty and the climate crisis.
In the arid south of Mali lies two very important forests that provide a vital source of food and income to many surrounding communities. But, over the years, the Duwa and Sutèbwo forests have been struck by the full force of deforestation and as a result, they are now severely degraded.
Since 2017, Tree Aid has been working in partnership with local communities, not only restore and protect these forests, but also to support them to sustainably use forest resources to improve livelihoods. After three years, the project which was made possible thanks to funding from the Darwin Initiative and support from local partner Sahel Eco, came to an end in July 2020.
Thanks to our monitoring and evaluation work, this project provides us with some of the most in-depth data that we have ever had at Tree Aid! With thorough data collection and analysis done at both the start and end of the project, we are excited to share with you just some of the incredible results achieved.
Over the course of the project, we worked with over 2,500 households, supporting them to form enterprise groups and increase incomes by processing and selling tree products like shea butter.
We are thrilled to be able to say that we recorded a 34% decrease in poverty in the households we were working with. That’s over 900 households that are no longer living in poverty!
Overall household income from tree products increased by a huge 1,673% over the lifetime of the project. This means that more families can now afford to send their children to school and save money, providing stability for the future which is becoming increasingly unpredictable with the effects of the climate crisis.
Over a quarter of total household income is now coming from trees, compared to less than 3% before the project. This means that more people are now using tree products to grow a steady and stable income that is less dependent on the climate than crops.
This increase in household income also resulted in other benefits. With a greater source of income, people are able to buy more diverse and nutritional foods for their families. As a result, we recorded an increase in dietary diversity in the people we worked with.
With trees being such important source of income for these communities. We worked closely with them to enhance their understanding of their access to forests and how they can protect them for years to come.
75% of the people that we surveyed agreed that after the project they now have fairer and equal access to local forests and their resources.
Through the project we worked with almost 1,500 farmers, supporting them to improve their management of the natural resources that they rely on. They learnt how to grow and protect trees, conserve water, improve soil quality and prevent the spread of wildfires.
These farmers then planted over 345,000 new trees and regenerated a further 327,000. At the end of the project, almost 90% of households we worked with were using a land regeneration technique, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, by the end of the project. Empowered with the knowledge of land restoration techniques, these farmers were able to restore 8,300 hectares of forest.
Working with women was particularly important in this project because in Mali, women are often prevented from managing the forests that they rely on for income and food. At the end of the project, our survey showed that almost 90% of women reported having moderate to equal ability to choose how to spend their income.
At Tree Aid, our evidence-based approach is vital in making sure that we continually improve how we work to maximise our impact. As impressive as the statistics are, what is equally, if not more important is hearing about the impact directly from the people we work with.
Bernadette, a woman that we worked with on the project said, “I became a member of the women’s group for shea processing. Before we sold the butter for 250-300 CFA per kilo, but today we sell it for 500-1000 CFA.”
These results demonstrate the immediate impact of this work, but it doesn’t end there. The positive impacts of the project will continue to be felt for years to come. Bernadette said, “With the support of the project, together we fought to become who we are today. This project allowed us to completely change our lives, and as proof, all our school-aged children are now at school."