Liana was established in April 2005 by a group of three research and development professional representing different fields of expertise, Eija Soini, Ari Koivu and Richard Coe. More Regular members and Supporting members have joined since then.

Liana Board

  • Chair, Eija Soini Coe 
  • Vice-Chair, Miika Mäkelä 
  • Secretary, Ric Coe
  • Member, Kirsi Saaristo
  • Member, Alex Fenwick
  • Deputy member, Ari Koivu

Regular members and expertise

The nature of the organisation and the way it operates determine criteria for different types of membership. In practice Regular members must:

  1. accept the purpose of the organisation and strive to fulfil the purpose within the organisation
  2. have adequate knowledge and skills to function in the organisation

Liana is an organisation which functions entirely through the efforts of its members. It welcomes Regular members who would like to develop projects that align with Liana rules and its Strategic Plan and Operating Principles, or support its functions in some other roles (e.g. fund-raising or co-developing activities with more experienced members).
When necessary Liana recruits professionals from outside the organisation as short-term volunteers. Most commonly Liana obtains specific expertise for its projects from local research and learning institutes, providing additional information resources if necessary.

Liana Strategic Plan and Operating Principles booklet guides Liana operations.

Supporting members

Individuals or registered organisations who wish to support the aims of Liana but can not become Regular members as described above can become supporting members.

Membership fees

Regular (north) €30, Regular (south) €10, Supporting individual €75, Supporting corporate €500

Welcome to join!

Liana does not actively seek new members but welcomes membership of individuals and companies/organisations. Contact  if you would like to become a member.

Donating to the project activities:
You can help schools in Tanzania obtain rainwater harvesting tanks, improved stoves and hand washing facilities and get your name engraved on the label of the stove or a water tank and photos of the structure you funded.

Volunteer opportunities:
Liana has had several volunteer opportunities in the past (see photos below). These may be specific tasks that Liana needs to get done.

Jo training on solar cooking in 2011 in Mwanga, Tanzania.
Eija planning work with Moudy the stove trainer.
Kirsi and Jukka delivering food to Kibera slum during post-election violence in Kenya in 2008.
Alex filming a documentary of Liana activities in 2012.
Erja in Kapedo in Northern Kenya during basketry workshop in 2008.
Rachel compiled an education package (here helping unpack food in Kibera in 2008 during hardships caused by the post-election violence).
Ric carrying seedlings in Moshi.

Margaret Tebbutt Foundation

Liana has since April 2022 hosted a non-autonomous foundation called Margaret Tebbutt Foundation

Current members

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 in 1976. 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 (1999). 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 developing and guiding Liana projects, life-long learning, volunteering and as a self-employed entrepreneur. Home page:

Richard (Ric) Coe, Scientist (Founder member, Liana Secretary) Ric works in agroecological research and development programs. He is currently sharing his time between the CIFOR-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:

Ari Koivu, Geographer, Youth/Sports development expert (Founder member, Board member 2005-2008, Deputy Board member since 2021) 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 and Zimbabwe. 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. 

Kirsi Saaristo, Geographer, Education specialist (Joined Liana in September 2005, Board member 2006-2008 and 2012-2018, back in the Board since 2023) 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); then in the very north of Norway (70 degrees North) in a teaching job; and now back in Finland.

Jarno Hämäläinen, Forester (Joined in September 2005, Board member 2008-2022) 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. After his stint in Nairobi he worked for a global mapping company, TomTom International as a data engineer, and now for a technological startup company.  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 (  

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), Reijo Soini (Joined February 2006), JSu (Joined October 2007), Pia Rinne (Joined October 2007), Ritva Stenberg (Joined December 2008), KAr (Joined 2019). 

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