The TerrAfrica Program: Improving land quality to sustain the performance of African economies

TerrAfrica is nationally driven and depends on the leadership and commitments of Sub-Saharan African countries. The Executive Committee consists of Sub-Saharan African governments, NEPAD, the UNCCD Secretariat, the UNCCD’s GM, the FAO, IFAD, UNDP, the AFDB, the European Commission, bilateral donors, civil society representatives, and the World Bank.

TerrAfrica partners are united by the view that securing land productivity while managing land use change and climate risk requires an expansion of sustainable land and water management (SLWM).

Expanding uptake of SLWM requires sustained country dialogue to align fragmented investments, information, and institutions. Countries and their partners are increasingly “expanding the public sphere” on policy and practice across institutional, geographic, and disciplinary boundaries, and integrating SLWM in national planning.

TerrAfrica involves 24 Sub-Saharan countries and is led by the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA). With its distinctive country programming process, TerrAfrica is a model for donor harmonization, Africa-driven development, multi-disciplinary work, and mutual accountability. The program is a vehicle for implementing land related strategies of UN Conventions and NPCA’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme’s Pillar 1 and its Environment Initiative.

TerrAfrica partners align themselves through an annual joint work program that includes activities led by African ministries of agriculture, environment, finance, etc; international and regional organizations; UNCCD bodies; OECD countries; NGOs; and so on. The work program focuses on country level activities that improve investment programming and implementation, while reinforcing country leadership on the land agenda. A small set of regional activities reinforce the country level activities.

Some results

Sixteen multi-sector country platforms are solidified, or in policy and investment dialogue across stakeholders: 

  1. Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda have or are preparing SLWM Investment Framework with priority investments and targets across sectors.
  2. Burkina Faso, Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Rwanda and Tanzania are involved in dialogue to prepare SLWM Investment Frameworks.

Analytics are informing investment dialogue across sectors: 

  1. In Ethiopia and Ghana, analyses are completed on the costs and benefits of land management options. This work is being built upon with new studies in Mali and Nigeria.
  2. In Malawi, Senegal and Uganda, reviews have been completed on institutions and public spending for SLWM. Mali and Nigeria have or are soon delivering final reports.
  3. A major climate change assessment is underway in Nigeria.

Tools are informing country investment programming: 

  1. Tools, documents, and practical information are available on TerrAfrica’s regional SLWM Knowledge Base. Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo are creating a country specific information system.
  2. Regional knowledge products and support tools were developed and disseminated – Sustainable Land Management in Practice is an encyclopedia of proven technologies and approaches launched in 2011.
  3. The M&E framework outlines a small set of shared indicators and targets. Indicator toolkits are now being prepared for projects and programs.
  4. The Country Service Network is under preparation by NPCA to facilitate better country access to mutual learning and monitoring across countries, projects, and portfolios.

TerrAfrica’s three business lines

Coalition Building

For SWLM  to work, sustained support and harmonized efforts at the national level and on the ground are needed to enhance efficiencies and allow economies of scale. To better address transboundary dimensions, significant and effective political, strategic and technical backing at the regional and global levels is necessary, it is also essential that efforts to mainstream SWLM are backed up by solid analytical underpinnings. TerrAfrica mobilizes partners in a coalition to advocate a common vision of SWLM, share analyses, set the foundations for strengthening and harmonizing policy dialogues and strategies, and improve coordination at all levels.

Knowledge Management

This activity line provides a platform for TerrAfrica partners to identify, generate, and disseminate targeted knowledge that supports decision-making, informs policymaking, advances mainstreaming (in particular in PRSPs, donor strategies and sector plans), helps secure domestic financing, and supports the harmonization of monitoring and evaluation activities by governments, donors, and civil society organizations. Knowledge is channeled to support investments on the ground undertaken by governments, donors and civil society.

Activities and Results:

  • The partnership produced several publications highlighting the land and climate nexus to inform Africa decision-makers and other SWLM stakeholders.
  • Lesson sharing among countries has contributed to the development of improved investment frameworks.

Selected Knowledge Products

  • The Knowledge Base provides a broad range of stakeholders with access to niche tools, information and data on SWLM approaches in Sub-Saharan Africa, and provides mechanisms to update, disseminate and align knowledge for stakeholders at all levels.
  • Sustainable Land Management in Practice: Guidelines and Best Practices in Sub-Saharan Africa  is a field application tool containing guidelines and case studies.
  • The Country Support Tool is the key operational document that provides the technical reference for teams to identify and formulate a comprehensive and coherent country program to combat land degradation and promote SWLM. The tool is a living, but non-prescriptive document, that provides guidance on each potential stage of the Country Strategic Investment Framework (CSIF) process.
  • Landscape Measures Resource Center is a collection of ideas and tools to aid in managing areas where interests in protecting biodiversity, producing food and securing rural livelihoods converge. It is rooted in the premise that measurement enhances management.


TerrAfrica scaled up US$3 billion for SWLM

Put an additional 174,000 hectares under SLWM;

Sequestered 520,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent; positively impacted 420,000 farmers

Engaged 95,000 extension workers

Prepared or delivered 18 country investment frameworks

37 operations are in preparation or implementation in 27 countries

Implemented 10 country-level and 3 multi-country/regional TerrAfrica-supported projects

At the country level, TerrAfrica works to create a closer cooperation between the ministries and departments that are responsible for SWLM -related activities and those sections of government responsible for setting national development priorities. The objective is to enhance the effectiveness of SWLM interventions, and to build a political momentum in favor of SWLM.

The expectation is for countries to take and retain control of their own development priorities. TerrAfrica partners provide the lens through which a new focus for SWLM can be achieved along with nationally set development priorities and ownership and commitment to SWLM  as reflected in national strategies.

TerrAfrica catalyses and supports nationally driven processes with the leadership and commitment of countries and involves of national stakeholders in the design and implementation of activities. While country level activities are the focus of this activity line, these efforts will be supported and facilitated by selected sub-regional and regional investments and activities when opportunities arise.

TerrAfrica advocates and mainstreams SWLM into development strategies and policy dialogues at sub-regional (selectively), country and local levels, in addition to developing, mobilizing, and harmonizing investments at sub-regional (selectively), country and local levels.

Activities and Results:

  1. 40 discrete investment operations are being implemented under Strategic Investment Program (SIP)(31 are country level and 9 are multi-country or regional operations).
  2. The SIP includes $150 million in GEF grants plus $1.10 billion financing from development banks, UN agencies, and other sources.

Sixteen multi-sector country platforms are solidified, or in policy and investment dialogue: 

  1. Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda have or are preparing SLWM Investment Framework with priority investments and targets across sectors.
  2. Burkina Faso, Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Rwanda and Tanzania are involved in dialogue to prepare SLWM Investment Frameworks.