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In rural Ethiopia, Sunarma is empowering farmers and communities to combat land degradation, food insecurity and create sustainable solutions. For Ethiopians, by Ethiopians. 

Founded in 2000, Sustainable Natural Resources Management Association (SUNARMA) improves the environmental stability and productivity of rural communities in Ethiopia. To achieve this goal, Sunarma focuses on addressing issues related to land degradation, natural resource management, and food insecurity.

SUNARMA identified key drivers of degradation in the country. These include open livestock grazing, the expansion of agricultural land, and low levels of income. These practices have led to the loss of natural forests, soil erosion, and the depletion of soil nutrients. Sunarma aims to mitigate these stressors and improve the lives of people in rural communities by promoting sustainable environmental practices.

“Our vision is to build stable, empowered and prosperous communities that recognize the importance of environmental restoration and preservation. We have a mission to educate and enhance the skills of the communities to sustainably manage our natural resources,” shared Tekle Jirane, chief executive director of Sunarma.

In July 2022, SUNARMA received a grant from TerraFund for AFR100, an initiative of World Resources Institute, One Tree Planted, and Realize Impact that finances Africa's top restoration enterprises and projects. The project's primary focus was on restoring degraded land, natural forests, and riparian areas through enrichment planting. To date, over 161,000 trees of different species have been planted, with the goal of planting up to 750,000 seedlings across 150 hectares of land.

SUNARMA recognizes the significance of community involvement in this project. The organization has worked closely with forest management associations, traditional and religious leaders, as well as school communities to ensure its success.

“We have worked closely with the communities because the project is not about Sunarma; it is about them. We have engaged them in planting and monitoring these trees, which created a positive reception of the work we are doing. Communities often feel a sense of guilt about the degradation of their land, resources and environment. This makes them even more eager to learn about best practices and safeguard the environment,” highlighted Jirane.

SUNARMA is working to assist cooperatives in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia, to effectively manage and protect natural forests. By reducing deforestation and promoting biodiversity conservation, Sunarma aims to create environmental stability while providing sustainable sources of income for communities.