Project to Help African Farming Villages Seeks Partners
Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia, Australia, the Middle East,
and the United States, the deserts are expanding at alarming rates, relentlessly
consuming once-fertile agricultural lands and entire communities. This urgent
global issue, “desertification,” has been called “the greatest environmental challenge of our time” by the United Nations University, which projects that it will
soon affect close to one-third of the earth’s land surface.
In regions of Northern Africa, once forested areas are now deserts, and with
no trees to act as windbreaks, the sand is submerging acres of nutrient-rich agricultural land—taking away millions of rural villagers’ homes and livelihoods.
The effects of desertification, and the results from
the VRAI model to restore agricultural land.
The Village Reforestation and
Advancement Initiative (VRAI) was
created to reverse this desert creep,
reestablish arable land and create
vibrant local economies. The first step
is to recreate a forest belt with 30,000
indigenous trees. After this, organic
agricultural practices and solar irrigation will be used to grow a variety of
products to supply organic processors
and consumers around the world and
create a better quality of life for these
villagers. Some of the products that
will be cultivated in this area include
hibiscus, tamarind, caraway, dates,
anise and coriander as well as honey.
The project is also helping build a
solar-powered learning center for
farmers and children in these villages.
VRAI is currently looking for companies and organizations to partner
with on this project on many levels,
from providing expertise on sustainable farming, marketing or product
development, to committing to source
products from these farmers or provide financial support. Sumbody
Organic Skincare has already got
involved, and is creating a product
line made from materials grown by
VRAI farmers to help fund the project.
“This is an opportunity for companies
to work together to create a dramatic
change by helping develop a sustainable economy and environment in
these villages,” said Debbi Burnes,
founder of Sumbody.
VRAI is a partnership between
Christie Communications, the U.S.-based nonprofit Aid Still Required,
and local community-based organizations in Sudan. You can see the project
video at www.youtube.com/
watch?v=TUCxVSJ4n YY. For more
information, contact Alissa Sears at