Demonstrating sustainable livelihood in communities to conserve Yawri Bay Area
- By Immanuel Walters, Project Coordinator
Communities in the inherited ecotourism site and rich Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) heavily depend on the unsustainable form of natural resources used as a source of livelihood and activities that are threatening some of Sierra Leone species of primates, antelopes and other animals. Because of the high incidence of poverty, timber logging, hunting, charcoal burning, farming, mangrove and bush sticks trading were their only source of livelihood. With funds from CEPF/ Birdlife International from 2018 to 2020 communities benefited from a series of awareness raising and campaigns on sustainable use of natural resources coupled with training in best forest management practices, Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) domestication and transformation and beekeeping. In parallel, MUWODA also supported the creation of “School Nature Clubs” who were later on engaged in tree planting and radio panel discussions.
Triggered by these initiatives, the Communities of Yawri Bay Area have started restoring its lost natural resources through the establishment of bye-laws. In Kassipoto, the Senior Section Chief named Chief John Caulker said: “The participation of our community in the project and the intervention of CEPF/Bird Life International /MUWODA was very timely and our role as Chiefs is to continue to maintain these sustainable practices and bye-laws. We will also put the conservation of Yawri Bay (a Key Biodiversity Area) as one of our priorities in our annual Chiefdom Development Strategies Action plan”. Today community members that benefited from the implemented project have changed their minds to reduce their dependence on unsustainable forms of natural resource use and showed interest in engaging in optional livelihoods like beekeeping and domestication and transformation of NTFP.
At Fifty-eight (58) years old, Annie Kamara, a single mother in Mammie community, was one of the participant of the NTFP transformation training and here what she thought about it: “As a single parent, I was engaged in charcoal burning because I had no knowledge of other optional livelihood and I was regularly sick because it requires hard labour. I was earning less than one (1) dollar for 50kg of charcoal and I struggled to handle my household needs. But thanks to MUWODA and the donors, today, I can increase my income by making and selling baskets and mat made with NTFP ''. Charcoal burning contributes to climate change that affects not only the health of the worker but also those of the future generation.
Mohamed Lahai, a young man living in Gobaru who was trained to the transformation of NTFP and beekeeping declared: “The CEPF-Birdlife International funded project allowed my community and the surrounding ones to fully participate in the training and activities conducted by MUWODA which have yielded significant results in improving our live. Now, I am working as the local Consultant for NTFP and Beekeeping training and persuading many household heads in neighboring communities to engage in sustainable livelihood activities”. Domestication and transformation of NTFPs as well as their value-addition and their marketing, have spread quickly to other communities of Yawari Bay, namely Ribbi and Kagboro chiefdoms, based on their interest and their hope to also benefit in the future from a CEPF - BirdLife International project investment.