Members, partners, volunteers

Liana board has five members:

  • Chair, Eija Soini  
  • Vice-Chair, Miika Mäkelä 
  • Secretary, Ric Coe
  • Member, Jarno Hämäläinen
  • Member, Alex Fenwick

Liana is currently working together with RECODA (Research, Community and Organizational Development Associates) of Arusha, Tanzania. RECODA hosts our activities and provides the needed local project and financial management for them. Read more about the organisation: https://recoda.or.tz/about-recoda/

Atanas Ndanu is Liana’s main contact in Tanzania for the work with schools and for the soil and water conservation activities in his village. He leads the building activities as the head builder ‘fundi mkuu’. He is the secretary of the builder group UMAUKI (Umoja wa Mafundi Ujenzi Kilimanjaro). UMAUKI has currently 15 builders . Ndanu was first trained in tank building within a Liana project in 2006. Later he expanded his skills to several stove models and rainwater harvesting tank models. He has actively striven to learn new skills and techniques and afterwards taught them to many others. As we continue to spread the technology to new schools and new villages, Ndanu is in the key role of mobilising the builders, the communities and the schools. He discusses and plans all the Tanzania work with Eija. He has since 2017 contributed most of the photos on Liana news blog page.

Eija Soini, PhD Development geographer  (Founder member, Liana Chair and volunteer coordinator of Tanzania activities) Eija’s connection with East Africa started when she had just turned seven and she moved to Kenya with her parents. At fifteen she returned to Finland, studied at the University of Helsinki, but soon found herself back in Kenya, first collecting data for her Master’s dissertation, then as a volunteer teacher in Uganda, and soon after as a associate expert at ICRAF, Nairobi. Her work experience from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia includes a wide range of modes in international development: research for development; community development work through Liana; programme development, baseline surveys, situation analysis and training in international development consultancies and NGOs. Eija is now back in Finland and continues her passion of life-long learning, volunteering and as a self-employed entrepreneur. Home page: www.eijasoini.net

Richard (Ric) Coe, Scientist (Founder member, Liana Secretary) Ric works in agroecological research and development programs. He is currently sharing his time between the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Statistics for Sustainable Development. His areas of expertise are: Planning sound data collection; Baseline surveys, monitoring and evaluation data collection, impact analysis, adaptive management, experiments; agroecology, rural development, natural resource management, environmental sciences; Managing data and information; Data analysis, quantitative modeling and statistics; Research project planning; Planning participatory enquiries to generate quantitative evidence; Quality assurance for research and investigative activities; and Professional training and capacity building. Home page: www.riccoe.net

Ari Koivu, Geographer, Youth/Sports development expert (Founder member, Board member 2005-2008) Ari is a Geographer (MSc) who has been actively involved in development research or development co-operation in Africa since 1994. Ari has specific expertise in education through sports and life skills and health education. He is one of the founding members of LiiKe which has become the leading sports development organisation in Finland. Koivu is currently leading large physical education development programmes in Tanzania. In addition, he works actively in making ‘Sports for Development’ concept more widely known through awareness raising campaigns, development education, conferences, workshops, TV documentaries and publishing. LiiKe supports every year a Tanzanian youth football team FC Vito to participate in Helsinki Cup, an big youth tournament in Finland. Ari is the Executive Director of LiiKe, based in Helsinki, Finland. www.liike.fi 

Kirsi Saaristo, Geographer, Education specialist (Joined Liana in September 2005, Board member 2006-2008 and 2012-2018) Kirsi has a MSc degree in Management of Natural Resources and Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics and a post graduate diploma in Practical Pedagogic. Her Masters’ theses focused on Livelihoods and Risk Management Strategies of Pastoral Communities in Ethiopia. Her areas of expertise are Environmental Education, community mobilization and empowerment, participatory methods, training needs assessment and project cycle management. Kirsi has over twenty years of experience from education sector including teaching Geography and Environmental Science, improving quality of basic education, education management and research. She worked ten years in Africa (Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania, Somaliland and Somalia, Kenya). Currently she is back in the very north of Norway (70 degrees North) in a teaching job.

Jarno Hämäläinen, Forester (Joined in September 2005, Board member since 2008) Jarno completed his Master’s studies with specialisation in environmental forest management. His thesis (published in 2000) deals with the cost effects that originate from field storage of logging residues in large-scale procurement of forest chips. In Tanzania he assisted the Rural Integrated Project Support Programme (RIPS) within the fields of IT facility and community forestry support in Mtwara and Lindi Regions. In the Province of Zambézia, Mozambique he served the Sustained Forest Resource Management Programme (PMSR) as the Provincial Forest Adviser. Currently his interests focus on wild land fire prevention, control and management that effectively involve local communities, public institutions and private sector, and guarantees sufficient incentives for each stakeholder group. He is currently working in Arbonaut Ltd, Helsinki as a Manager of REDD and Sustainable Forestry Services.

Miika Mäkelä, Spatial data engineer (Joined in May 2006, Liana Vice-Chair from 2009) Miika has an MSc in Geography. His professional interests are focused on Geographic information systems (GIS) and automated data processing methods. In 2004 he got his first experience of Africa while working on his thesis at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. Since then Miika has worked in several GIS expert roles, including 3 years (2008-2011) in Nairobi as a GIS Analyst at the World Agroforestry Centre. Currently Miika works for a global mapping company, TomTom International as a data engineer.  He is based in Helsinki, Finland.

Erja-Riitta Alander, (MA) Erja came to Liana as a volunteer in 2008. Erja’s task was to lead a one-month basketry workshop in Kapedo village in the northern semi-desert area of Kenya. The Kikapu workshop (Kikapu=basket in Swa), Kapedo basketry workshop for women to create new designs and products for improved marketing and income generation was implemented together with the local CBO KEDA (Kapedo Educational and Development Association). Erja graduated from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (MA) in 2008. Her previous training had included interior textile design (Seinäjoki polytechnic). In 2014 she expanded her skills in customer service and participatory leadership by completing an undergraduate degree in nursing. Since 2017 Erja has worked for the municipality of Salo as a youth worker, organizing various youth activities such as art workshops. In addition, she is a volunteer coordinator or Särkisalo cultural vicarage (https://www.kulttuuripappila.fi/).  

Susanna Mäkelä, Human Resources Director Susanna came to Liana as a volunteer in October 2008 when she was living in Nairobi, Kenya. Her task was to compile a review of firewood saving stoves based on the documentation available on the Internet. This initially guided Liana in the selection of models for further testing and introduction in the projects in Tanzania. Susanna has also audited Liana accounts since 2015. She has MA in political sciences from the University of Helsinki. She currently works at Outotec, Helsinki, Finland.

Johanna Kolehmainen, Biologist (Joined in February 2010, Board member 2010-2011) Johanna has a PhD degree in Plant Biology. Her MSc and PhD thesis projects focused on the population ecology and genetics of the endangered African Violets (genus Saintpaulia) of the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. Johanna’s professional interests include Tanzania (East Africa), plant species identification and plant ecology, conservation biology, integrated conservation and development projects, tropical forest conservation, and ecotourism. Johanna’s earlier work history consists of miscellaneous plant biological jobs at the University of Helsinki and at the Finnish Environment Institute. Currently, she works as a Conservator in charge of the study herbarium at the Dept. of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki. On her spare time, Johanna has engaged in voluntary NGO work in Finland and Tanzania.

Alex Fenwick, Social anthropologist, (Joined Liana in April 2012, Board member since 2019). Alex Fenwick is a manager for rural development programs. He volunteered with Liana in 2012 – piloting the adult education package and making a film about the technologies Liana promotes. Alex spent four years working in Burma’s Chin State on agricultural and emergency response programs before moving to Somaliland in 2020, where he is currently Head of Programs for Welthungerhilfe. Alex holds an MA in the Anthropology of Development from SOAS, University of London.

Supporting members:

Marja Färm (Joined February 2006), Matti Jalonen (Joined February 2006), Anneli Soini (Joined February 2006), Reijo Soini (Joined February 2006), JSu (Joined October 2007), Pia Rinne (Joined October 2007), Ritva Stenberg (Joined December 2008), KAr (Joined 2019) 

Other Liana volunteers (in addition to those listed above): Rachel Stern 2008 (compilation of an education package for drylands), Jo Myra 2011 (testing wood burning cooking stoves, solar cooking training).