Saving schemes for saving rainforest

Written by: Callie

Posted on March 1, 2018

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Cool Earth is different. Cool Earth are working hard to put themselves out of a job, creating self-determining communities that no longer need their support.

Small grants from Cool Earth make a big difference when they’re supercharged by knowledge a community already has. The first step is creating sustainable incomes from the rich forest around that surrounds their partner villages.

In the last four years, the yield of cacao in the Asháninka partnership has nearly doubled, from two and a half tonnes to nearly five tonnes. Income has increased by more than that because each year the quality improves and the crop can be sold at a higher price. They’re selling it directly to Chocolarder, one of the UK’s best independent bean-to-bar chocolatiers.

In Papua New Guinea, the women in the Dabu cooperative are earning 60-70 Kina a day from the bakery they set up with Cool Earth funds. This is about £20 and far more than the average wage for the area. A sewing group are making school uniforms and quilts to sell in Gadaisu market. In a country where women face systemic discrimination, this is fantastic progress.

Increasing the money coming in every month really helps. But for communities that have lived hand to mouth for many generations, it’s not necessarily sustainable in the long-term.

When the main breadwinner falls ill, or there’s a drought that causes crops to fail, a village can suddenly be desperately short of cash. That’s when offers from loggers can become the only option to ensure children don’t go hungry. Cool Earth is there to support families in those situations, but their ultimate aim is creating villages can draw on their own resources in times of crisis.

Support from Fuel Card Services is helping Cool Earth‘s partner communities achieve this security by becoming financially independent. They’re helping set up Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLAs), a smart idea that harnesses the power of communities to save for the future. Groups are managed entirely by and for the community members and short term loans can be taken from a central pot that everyone pays into. There’s no need to walk miles or pay for transport to travel to the bank. And the money saved by the association can be used in times when money is tight.

Strong, self-determining rainforest communities are the key to a future where organisations like Cool Earth are no longer needed.

“We need to spend money wisely if Cool Earth are not always here. We cannot spend as we have been doing. We need to use our minds.” John Isaac, Gadaisu Village, Papua New Guinea.