West & Central Africa

Expansive Forests, Vital Rural Economies

What's at Stake

West and Central Africa have strong rural economies set within some of the world's largest forest expanses. The Congo Basin spans eight countries, contains the world's second largest contiguous forest, and boasts abundant biodiversity and natural resources. It also provides food, water, and shelter to some 75 million people.

Cocoa farmer at a training meeting in Ghana

Cocoa farmer at a training meeting in Ghana

Photo credit: Marcus Schaefer

Cocoa Farmers Face Economic Hardship, Climate Change

Seventy percent of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, where cocoa cultivation is a way of life reaching back for generations. Most of the cocoa throughout the region is grown by smallholder farmers who struggle not only with economic hardship, but also with the effects of climate change—hotter temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, and a shift in growing seasons.

Juvenile chimpanzee bonobo (Pan paniscus) in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Juvenile chimpanzee bonobo (Pan paniscus) in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo credit: iStock

Stunning Biodiversity

The rainforests of the Congo Basin provide habitat to an array of spectacular yet endangered wildlife, such as lowland mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, drills, bonobos, and elephants. The region's rivers, forests, savannas, swamps, and flooded forests contain 10,000 plant species, as well as 400 mammal species and 1,000 bird species—many of these species are endangered or threatened.

Our Work

Our Work

Sustainable agriculture and community forestry are powerful strategies for conserving the abundance of natural resources in West and Central Africa. In addition to our work to conserve the forests of the Congo Basin, we partner with farming communities to build climate-resilient, sustainable agriculture landscapes.

Mojisola Enitan Oluyeye with farmers

Mojisola (yellow shirt) is a lead trainer for Chief Adesida, the Country Manager for Conservation Alliance, working with the Rainforest Alliance on the Global Environmental Facility project in Nigeria. Pictured with her are young farmers from the Ondo State, Nigeria.

Photo credit: Christian Mensah

Empowering Women Farmers

Rainforest Alliance agricultural trainer Mojisola Enitan Oluyeye offers training to women farmers in Ondo state, Nigeria, who seek to build financial independence. Studies show that women in West Africa spend a significantly higher proportion of their income on food for their families than men do, so bolstering the financial position of women is essential to the well-being of farming communities.

Learn more about our key projects in this region.
Our Impact

Our Impact

When it comes to sustainability, the definition of success takes many forms. Whether it is rising populations of endangered species, robust crop yields, or higher and more stable incomes for smallholder farmers, studies show that the best management practices we promote throughout West and Central Africa produce results.

Cocoa pods growing on a tree

Cocoa pods growing on a tree

Photo credit: Nice and Serious

3,500 Acres of Cocoa Plantations Rehabilitated

We are working in Côte d’Ivoire to renovate and rehabilitate 3,500 acres (1,400 hectares) of cocoa plantations, advance sustainable cocoa production, and improve the livelihoods of smallholders who depend on cocoa as their main source of income.

Western lowland gorilla

Portrait of a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the Republic of Congo

Photo credit: iStock

Growing Population of Endangered Lowland Gorillas

Numerous studies show that endangered lowland gorillas in the Congo Basin have rebounded to "healthy populations" in forests that are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard, the rigorous set of criteria to which the Rainforest Alliance conducts its forestry audits.

Learn more ways we are achieving real results.
Get Involved

Get Involved

Join us to help rebalance the earth.

Gorilla - photo by iStock

The world's second largest tropical rainforest is home to endangered gorillas. Community forestry is essential to the future of this region.

Dried earth

Just imagine: what if you turned on your faucet and no water came out? Everyone cares about clean water. Not everyone's taking action.

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