hectares of classified forest to protect
farmers to benefit from this Technology
villagers from 7 villages will be affected in a positive way
The green and beautiful Mé region, located in the south-east of Côte d'Ivoire, is emblematic of rampant incremental deforestation. Helped by GeoPoppy software, an environmental conservation project attempts to break the cycle.

Around Adzope, in the Mé region, trees frequently finish under the roaring blades of  a chain saw.  95000 hectares of forest are depleted every year in Côte d'Ivoire, roughly the equivalent of 130000 football fields.This is one of the highest rates of deforestation in Africa. 

In 2017, the « Mé Redd + » Project undertook to curb forest clearing, whilst improving the living conditions of the local farmers and population. « Mé Redd + » relies on GeoPoppy, an on-board Geographic Information System within a mini-server and a tablet, supported by AFD's Evaluation and Learning department, designed for tracking the evolution of cultivated and woodland  areas.

La Mé includes the forests of Mabi-Yaya, 65000 hectares in total, where a tribe of chimpanzees in danger of extinction, currently resides. A local team made up of 18 staff members, is spread across seven villages, and focuses its attention in and around the forests. They belong to the NGO Nitidæ, which implements the « Mé Redd + » Project. They have a « zero deforestation » agriculture approach: farmers must be able to earn their living without clearing the surroundings; a careful balance between agricultural income and forestry related income.  

By the end of 2019, the Nitidæ team expects to support 2250 households across 5000 hectares. Configured from open-source free software by INRA (National Institute for Agronomic Research), Geo Poppy allows the operators to collect large amounts of data directly on the ground with the beneficiaries. They simply have to go round the plot of land armed with a tablet and a portable mini-server. Mapping out the larger area will result in better understanding, improvement and protection of endangered spaces. 

Côte d'Ivoire, numérique, GeoPoppy, Kambou
Côte d'Ivoire, Abou, GeoPoppy, Kambou
Abou Ouattara: « Reforest for Young People »
When he was young, Abou Ouattara remembers that there were so many trees around his native city of Adzope, that at times he could not even see the sun. He’s now 41, and manages a 100 hectare farm, belonging to M. Atsé. The farm grows cocoa, coffee, cassava, yam and eggplant.

His worst fear: wood poachers coming at night to cut down wood on the property. His creed: faith in young people and an ability to look towards the future, with a touching note of emotion. « I didn’t think that we could get tools like GeoPoppy to help us. Now, our parcels can be better understood and regulated. »

Also within the « Me Redd + » project, 500 additional hectares should be reforested. The Atsé farm is involved in meeting this challenge. Once more, the development of the cedrela, teck, tiama or aniegre plantations will be monitored by GeoPoppy. « With the help of these maps, we’ll be able to better manage this land over the next 30 years. »
Côte d'Ivoire, GeoPoppy, Kambou
Denis Mea: «The power of Technology harnessed by man »
When the NGO Nitidæ had to find a « land management, monitoring and evaluation » project officer, Denis Mea’s skills in Geographic Information Systems made the difference. He currently oversees the five operators covering the region.

With his GeoPoppy to hand, he says: « firstly the operator enters the name of the beneficiary who is then given a unique identifier. After that, he draws the outline of the plot of land, by writing down different on-the-spot locations. Satellite imagery may be used. Certain essential pieces of information may be added like the village or crop type. The surface area is then automatically calculated and drawn up.»

Smiling, he adds: « The owners often believe that their plot is smaller or bigger than in the reality. When the figures are revealed, it’s a good or a bad surprise for them! » Denis Mea is passionate about saving the environment, and believes that « science and technology should enable man to co exist better with nature ».
Côte d'Ivoire, numérique, GeoPoppy, Romuald, Kambou
Romuald Vaudry: «Paving the way towards forest certification schemes»
Back in the office after a field trip, his hand poised over his (computer)mouse, Romuald Vaudry, the « Mé Redd + » project manager likes taking a virtual stroll across the region. Varying shades of green hold no secret for this project leader.

« Here, we can just about see the remains of a forest, but it’s quite possible that cocoa plants are hiding under the trees », he explains. A few miles away, the rubber plantations triumphantly display their rigid plantation rows. « We are trying to show the locals the advantage of diversifying and planting other species such as gmelina for example. »

A good many delimited and visible plots are already stored in GeoPoppy’s database. « Until recently, our operators used to have to go out into the field with a notebook, a pencil and GPS, then returning to the office to input data. Nowadays, this work can be avoided, as well as the relevant mistakes. Another big success for their colleagues out on the field: they find this digital tool very user friendly. »

Next step: « We are paving the way for the issuing of land title deeds for beneficiaries. In this way, they will be able to safely ensure and pass on a tangible legacy to their children or apply for bank loans. During the process of certification, private companies can reforest these plots at no cost, with a view to buying this timber in the future. »
Côte d'Ivoire, numérique, GeoPoppy, Kambou
GeoPoppy, key to freedom

GeoPoppy is a complete, user-friendly and inexpensive data collection system. Hardware wise, the tool is composed of a mini-server (RaspberryPi), powered by an external battery, and connected to a tablet by Wi-Fi connection. Only open-source free software is used, especially for the database management (PostgreSQL) and the Geographic Information System (QGIS).

Once the initial installation technical material is acquired and configured, the use of GeoPoppy is free, without limited storage or a limited no of users. « Even if the Nitidæ project was particularly specific, we really wanted to use free software so that the tool could then easily be reused and replicated in other contexts and reused by other operators. Everything is published under the  Creative Commons licence »,  explains Martin Noblecourt, project manager at CartONG, an NGO which has helped to adapt GeoPoppy to the needs of Nitidæ. 

Transparency of Data through GeoPoppy
Côte d'Ivoire, GeoPoppy, Kambou
© Sia Kambou - AFP / AFD

« Red+ » is the international program for « Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation », to which Côte d'Ivoire has dedicated itself since 2011.

On behalf of the French and Ivorian republics, the Ivorian ministry of  environment or financial backers, such as the AFD, the use of a tool like GeoPoppy demonstrates « the aim of  total data transparency  and demonstrates the step by step development of the  “Redd + La Mé” project »

« In order to comprehensively assess this type of development, the precision and quality of data must be totally precise and reliable. This data is collected using a mobile platform (MDC), without the need for an  internet connection on the ground », adds Martin Noblecourt, from CartONG. 

Trailblazing for the new generation

Initially, GeoPoppy was designed by INRA to monitor poppy fields! Following its reworking, GeoPoppy could become the pioneer for a new generation of low cost digital tools, based on freeware, oriented towards project monitoring and evaluation. It adapts to any platform and operating system. « Everybody can use it, from the local community to the SME, in both urban and rural areas », confirms Denis Mea. This specific example in the Mé region can thus be replicated worldwide, in any given field.