Supporting Africa’s Locally Led Restoration Movement
"We are hands-on to restore our forest cover, our biodiversity, our water flows, and to uplift livelihoods sustainably," says Wambui Muthee, Deputy Chair on the Board of Directors for the Green Belt Movement, a Kenya-based environmental nonprofit.
Local organizations like Green Belt will make or break Africa’s ability to meet its 100-million-hectare restoration target.
These groups — local nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations — are on the front lines of our nature and climate crises. They do the day-in and day-out work of restoration, turning ambitious restoration targets into action on the ground. They engage area residents in restoration project design, decision-making, and implementation; employ people locally; and deliver concrete benefits for local communities.
Despite the vital role they play, local organizations receive only a fraction of international funding flows and capacity support. The Bezos Earth Fund is working to reverse this trend, supporting local restoration action so that countries can meet their targets and deliver on the scale that the world needs.
“Our work to center local leadership in our grantmaking is only just beginning,” says Emily Averna, Bezos Earth Fund's Program Lead for Land Restoration, “and we have a lot left to learn. But we've also gotten started in a few important ways in Africa.”
We’ve provided seed funding to create TerraFund for AFR100 — a program to identify, vet, fund, and monitor local restoration efforts in Africa. Since 2021 TerraFund has channeled $33 million from the Earth Fund and other funding partners to nearly 200 local restoration groups across 27 countries. Together these groups will restore an estimated 67,000 hectares, create 88,000 part-time and full-time jobs, and benefit 780,000 people.
We also provide multi-year funding directly to trailblazing grassroots organizations, including Green Belt and The Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS). These groups partner with local communities to set goals, share knowledge, and mobilize people to get involved in restoration activities. "We don't just tell communities what to do," says ARCOS Founder and CEO Sam Kanyamibwa. "We listen to each other; we become partners." In 2023 ARCOS launched a 32-member African NGOs Alliance for Environmental Sustainability (ANAES) to empower local groups as the architects and agenda-setters of restoration efforts, and to collectively mobilize three million smallholder farmers in restoration activities.
Our funding is paired with multi-year organizational development support from Maliasili, which helps organizations develop strategies, expand their teams, and fundraise to drive and manage their continued growth.
"At the end of the day," says Averna, "our support must include both direct support to best-in-class local restoration efforts and infrastructure that allows for many thousands of local groups — beyond just those that we fund directly — to access the capital and capacity they need to implement and grow their restoration efforts."