It has been nearly 10 years since World Vision, the Humbo community in Ethiopia and the World Bank took a novel approach to development, uniting community development and carbon trading in a way that had only recently been pioneered.
It was 2006, and the project had two separate but interwoven goals: to mitigate climate change by restoring over 2700ha of bio-diverse forest using Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) techniques; and to reduce poverty through a variety of environmentally sustainable initiatives.
As the forest was restored with indigenous, bio-diverse species, the Humbo community sold its resulting carbon credits to the World Bank. In return, the community has been able to put the revenue into livelihood and economic development infrastructure such as grain stores and flour mills.
The project has been hugely successful in generating income for the local community through the sale of greenhouse gas emission reduction credits to the World Bank BioCarbon Fund.
From 2010 to 2014, the Humbo forest management cooperatives (the community) earned $USD394,293 from the sale of carbon credits. These cooperatives are community-owned institutions established to ensure that revenue from reforestation activities is allocated to projects prioritized by the community via democratic processes. Even after the current purchase agreement with World Bank concludes in 2018, additional revenue may be generated through the sale of carbon credits to new buyers for up to 20 years.
And the projects funded by this revenue have had wide reaching benefits . The community has reported benefits including decreased health risks, improved nutrition, less child labour, improved school attendance, and more time for childcare, garden production and livestock maintenance by women in the area.
In the past, the burden of accessing grain mill facilities in distant markets fell disproportionately to women and children. Rather than full-day journeys to and from mills in distant towns, many people in the Humbo community can now access these facilities in under an hour. That means time can be better spent closer to home; working, studying or enjoying time with their families.
Abella, a female member of the co-operative, said the grain stores had stabilised access to food and removed some uncertainty of supply.
“The grain store helps cooperative members sell grain at the harvest time, and purchase it during the lean season. This allows cooperative members to save money compared to paying market prices in the lean season. The price is much fairer here [at the cooperative] than at the markets in Humbo or Soddo. It is also closer, and the profits from these sales go back to the cooperative.”
A project that started with something as simple as regenerating native flora has grown to become an example of how actions by local communities can reach far beyond the community’s borders to benefit the whole world . And we all do benefit. It’s estimated the Humbo project will cut 880,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years.