Managing forests sustainably

The problem

Rural communities depend on farming to survive. When the last rains failed. crops failed, resulting in hunger and malnutrition. In these circumstances most men have no choice but to find work elsewhere - leaving the women
to provide for their children alone.

Families in Bulilima do not have food stores and become dependant on food aid.  Building a more diverse range of products for people to produce and connecting them to the markets where they can be sold.

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Improving food security through sustainable management of forest resources

Forest forces

Location: Bulilima, Zimbabwe
Number of beneficiaries: 27,000
Project date: August 2014 - December 2017
Partners: UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Principal funders: European Union
Funding: £507,000

The marula tree which grows here is drought resilient and its aromatic fruit has a high vitamin C content and makes excellent jam. The nuts are rich in protein and can be crushed to make a valuable cosmetic oil.  Women used to crack the marula fruit using a hammer to extract the kernel.  This was slow, back-breaking work which took a day to produce two cups of kernels. This projects worked with the community to test and develop a simple machine to crack the nuts and extract the kernels without damaging them, so they will fetch a higher price.

Key activities

  • Promoting marula collection, processing and marketing
  • Training of communities on sustainably forest management
  • Training and support for enterprise establishment, product development, marketing and market access.
  • Establishing fire management and resource management committees
  • Forest protection through fire and pest management
  • Mentoring of producer groups in production planning, budgeting, record keeping, costing or pricing and cash-flow management
  • Developing appropriate technologies in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe Development Technology Centre (UZ-DTC) and the private sector and networking


The ten-strong Vusanani women’s cooperative are now producing jam, nut butter and oil to sell. Thanks to the business training and quality control from this project the group are selling their oil to a company making cosmetics in Bulawayo, generating over £4,000 worth of sales. They have used their profits to invested in livestock and and are looking forward to a brighter future.


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