ACRA is an Italian NGO based in Milan and involved in a wide range of projects both in Italy and abroad, focusing on fighting poverty and inequality, environment protection, and combating climate change.
Who We Are
ACRA is a non-governmental, secular, and independent organization, founded in Milan in 1968 and engaged for over fifty years in international cooperation, the protection of human rights, and the fight against poverty and inequality. ACRA works together with local communities in Africa and Latin America to guarantee the right of access to food, water, education, and energy; for the protection and preservation of the environment and to support inclusive and sustainable growth, enhancing local talents and promoting gender equality. In Europe and Italy, it works for a culture of dialogue, integration, intercultural exchange, and solidarity; and promotes projects to combat gender-based violence and fight climate change. It organizes global citizenship education activities for schools and young people. In each country, it is committed to the promotion of sustainable agricultural models and consumption practices, also through the agroecological approach.
Our Own Experience
ACRA has developed specific expertise in the following thematic areas: food sovereignty and security & nutrition; economic development, social business & micro-finance; energy & environment; education, global citizenship awareness and co-development; water, sanitation & hygiene. Underlying all interventions is a strong emphasis on the poor and the marginalized; local actors and knowledge; local resources and social entrepreneurs; community-run or community-controlled systems; the provision of basic services tailored to the needs and the rights of the local people; capacity building and strengthening of civil society and authorities; sustainability. ACRA's efforts consist of supporting farmers and practitioners, both at technical and institutional levels, in the creation and diffusion of self-sufficient and sustainable agricultural systems. This commitment is reached through an innovative tri-partite approach of research, extension, and education. This means an appropriate knowledge transfer methodology, sustainable and independent research, participatory technology transfer, and training services for the sustainable development of agriculture and the food processing industry to respond successfully to farmers' demands and to improve the quality of food systems in both urban and rural areas. Through its focus on ITKs, ACRA promotes a reconnection between communities and agricultural activities, and to this end carries out a research and innovation agenda aimed at restoring and valorizing traditional knowledge in close collaboration with farmers and targeted to their specific environments and preferences. The focus is on communities, in rural areas and small towns in Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea B, Congo, Chad, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique), Asia India, and Latin America (Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala). ACRA also has a European program with activities in Italy and several other countries across Europe.
Valeria De Paoli
I graduated in Environment and Forest Sciences and I’ve been working for more than 12 years in management cooperation projects, with a specific focus on food security, agroecology, and environmental protection. I’m a Desk Officer in the International Cooperation Unit, responsible for the projects in Africa (Chad, Niger) funded by UE, MAECI/AICS, UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO, PAM, Municipality of Milano, CARIPLO and various Foundations. I am also the ACRA focal point on food security. I’m an experienced consultant for the AICS project “Women and rural inclusive development, as a Means to reach food security in Burkina Faso”. I will be supporting the management of the project with my technical expertise and knowledge of the context of Burkina Faso
I graduated in International Relations and Agro-Environmental Sciences. I've been working on research and innovation in marginal areas, finding solutions facing climate change, from water to field management.
Since I graduated, I have been working with participatory research programs and planning, mostly related to enhancing agrobiodiversity within the field through participatory plant breeding, the use of local varieties, and evolutionary populations.
I also have a strong interest in studying solutions able to increase biodiversity in which cropping and livestock systems are embedded. In particular, the contribution of nature-based solutions to water retention and water recovery.
I will support the project with my technical expertise, especially on the set up of the trial plots and development of ToRs for the research foreseen in Task 3.3
I am a socio-economist of Italian and Swiss nationality with 23 years of experience in rural development in Africa. I am a member of ACRA, one of the oldest Italian NGOs, since 1983. From 2012 to 2014 as ACRA Country coordinator, I was involved in setting up and supporting LUMAMA, a community-based social enterprise managing a 300 kW hydro-electric off-grid power plant providing electricity to 7 villages. I was elected President of the ACRA Board in 2014 and re-elected in June 2017. Within ACRA Executive Board I oversee the development of the energy program in Africa and Latin America and the development of partnerships with private sector companies. I am also among the founder and board members of Education & Entrepreneurship Ltd, a Tanzanian social enterprise involved in promoting vocational training for rural youth. I will support the implementation of ACRA’s project component from a technical perspective, capitalizing on ACRA’s knowledge of rural development and the mobilization of farmers.