Transformational Change through Nature Based Community Enterprises

This initiative aims to support local actions for Water, Energy and Food security to improve livelihoods and environmental sustainability.

Photo of Dr Sam Kanyamibwa
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

The Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network)

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10,000 - 50,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water

Headquarters location: Country

  • Rwanda

Headquarters location: City

Kigali, Rwanda KN 14 Avenue, No. 45 Don Bosco Compound, Kimihurura

Location(s) of impact

Rwanda: Bugesera District, Kirehe District, Rutsiro District


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Meeting human aspirations in an increasingly resource limited world and in the perspective of a changing climate, require that resources are used cautiously and equitably. In developing countries agriculture employs up to 80% of the population and the increasing land degradation threatens the needs of the population and put their livelihoods at stake. Local, small holder farmers feel it and understand the urgency of land restoration for water, energy and food security. But, do they have enough resources and skills?

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

To address the above problem, we promote, facilitate and support community initiatives that integrate sustainable agricultural practices; soil, water and biodiversity conservation; forest landscape restoration; Ecosystem Based Adaptation; green energy technologies (energy saving cooking stoves, biogas and solar energy), etc. We use an approach named BEST (B: Building leadership and sustainable community institutions, E: Enhancing environmental resilience, S: Sustainability business solutions, and T: Transforming and inspiring others). The Most promising aspects for creating shared value include Organic farming and certification, Nature Based Village (NBVs) as model for transformation and Nature Based Community Fund (NBCF) to sustain the initiative at village level, Community to community Exchange organized annually and gather Nature Based Community Enterprises to exchange information/knowledge on best agricultural practices, energy saving solutions and value addition among others.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Sustainable agricultural practices and income: increased knowledge in sustainable practices for the communities and the established incentives scheme. The income of more than 16160 coffee farmers has increased because of certificate. Restored 495 ha, offsetting carbon emitted as well as reducing the green house effects. Over 72000 of fruit trees and over 260000 of agroforestry trees. So far 8 ha are equipped with solar irrigation systems that benefit more than 200 farmers. Pollution reduction: The wastewater treatment plant built for three coffee washing station reduced the pollution which used to threaten farmers downstream and affect wetland ecosystems. Soil conservation: Organic farming increased productivity and different cooperatives we work with witness the increase to 10 times in harvest. Clean energy (biogas): 87 household have biogas plant, therefore reducing pressure of tree cutting. Farmers’ small projects: 48 community projects were supported in 6 pilot Nature Based V

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

1. Individual donations or gifts: 1%: This comes from ARCOS members 2. Grants: 80%, mostly from different call for proposal we apply on. So far, we received money from Rwanda’s Green Fund (FONERWA) and we expect some grants from World Resources Institute and New Field Foundation that will support to expand the initiative in more villages of Rwanda and Uganda. 3. Corporate contributions: 0% but we are partnering with GIZ Rwanda to explore the possibility 4. Earned income: 19%: Partner NBCEs that received Grants gives 10% of their income to support the Nature Based Community Fund and community projects that receive loan from the fund, reimburse with 5% interest rate. It is important to note that this is a revolving fund managed by community at village level. 5. Other

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The innovative aspect of this initiative is crafted in the approach we use, "BEST". The latter was developed based on the last 5 years experience, where we have engaged consultations with community based organisations to understand their needs, the problems they face, and the potential they have for transformation. We came up with an integrated approach (BEST) being implemented now for the last 2 years, integrating elements of capacity building, environmental sustainability, financial viability.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

It was that time when countries in East African struggle to respond to the issue of reduced agricultural productivity. Desperately, the increase in inputs (chemical fertilizers) were chosen as solution but the impacts on soil, water and the implication to sustainability were, that time, neglected. There was really a need to think about an integrated approach that would work better though not convincing to some decision makers as it seemed not to generate immediate results and looked as a progress to some people, that would take some time to yield results. As environment and development organization, we came up with BEST Approach that aims at enhancing sustainable livelihoods and environmental sustainability as explained in the previous sections.

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Attachments (2)


This is ARCOS' Strategic Plan 2016-2020


This is the flyer for ARCOS' Nature Based Community Enterprises Programme. It provides the backgroung of the programme and explains in details "BEST" approach we use in this initiative.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Levin Ingati Nyonje

Dr Sam Kanyamibwa This is a very great idea. I look at it and it is our aspiration as a young NGO seeking the same. It is amazing how similar the objectives are and i have to say, you have made a mile. I know there is still more to do but I look to learn from you too so we replicate the same in Kenya.

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