Impact Stories

Find impact stories by theme.

Mar 2018

Cocoa production is a pillar of Ghana’s economy and of rural livelihoods, but it is at risk from forest degradation and climate change. An Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) project has identified eco-friendly farming methods that could play a role in securing the crop’s future.

Key messages of this ESPA Impacts Story are:

• Ghana’s cocoa yields are at risk from both forest loss and from the impacts of climate change.

• Private cocoa companies, the smallholder farmers from whom companies purchase cocoa beans, and the Government of Ghana all have an interest in protecting and enhancing yields of the lucrative cocoa crop.

• The ESPA ECOLIMITS project has identified eco-friendly practices and key management variables that have the potential to boost cocoa yields.

• Improved cocoa yields help address some – but not all – aspects of rural poverty.

• Farming methods alone will not address the security of cocoa farmers and the ecological health of Ghana’s cocoa forests. Policy changes at national level are needed for Ghanaian cocoa farming to reach its potential for economic, social and environmental sustainability.

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May 2015

Agriculture and fisheries in East and Southern Africa support the livelihood of millions and are particularly important for poor rural communities. In this region, however, the pace of change is fast, the population is growing, weather patterns are changing and governance and global markets are driving changes to the traditional pastoralist way of life.


Featured image courtesy of Danilo Pinzon/World Bank

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Nov 2014

South Asia is the most populous region on the planet, home to around 25% of the world’s population living on only 3% of the world’s land.

It has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Agriculture, natural resources, forests and fisheries are the foundation of its population's prosperity and wellbeing.

Find out how ESPA projects in South Asia are tackling the regions most important issues: food security, water security and climate change.


Featured image courtesy of Marco Simola/CIFOR

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Jun 2014

Knowing why people choose to use resources in particular ways is essential to supporting sustainable management. Read about results and impacts of ESPA research on 'the decision network'. 


Featured image courtesy of Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

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Jan 2014

Foreign investment into biofuels has boosted Ghana’s sugarcane industry. Will this potentially lucrative crop make life sweeter for the country’s poor - or will its environmental impact leave them with a nasty aftertaste? ESPA supported the first research study on the impact of climate change on biofuel production. The modeling framework developed will be used across other crop production systems in Africa.


Featured image courtesy of David Barrie

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Jan 2014

Ecosystems under human pressure can undergo dramatic, irreversible shifts, including the collapse of essential services such as water quality or soil stability. 

Long-term regional records of ecological and economic change can inform development planning. Read about an ESPA project that produced Ecosystem Services Indices for the lower Yangtze Basin that did just that.

Featured image courtesy Curt Carnemark / World Bank ©


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