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05 May 2014

Man and Nature Lauded for Valorizing Natural Resources.

Posted in News, Views 1494

Stakeholders pose after workshop

French Charity, Man & Nature has been lauded as a perfect example in creating links between private sectors from the North and local communities from the South in conserving and valorizing natural resources in a sustainable way.

The Charity received applause during the 8th Pan-African Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) Workshop that took place from March 10-14 in Cotonou, Benin Republic. Man and Nature's partnership with the Cameroonian NGO, the Environment & Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) was highly appreciated for valorizing the Echinops giganteus plant project; a project that has created real dynamism in the ABS implementation in Cameroon and become a reference in the country since 2012.

The workshop hosted by Benin's Ministry of Environment and organized by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative brought together more than 150 participants from 40 different countries.

Participants had an opportunity to share the progress in the ABS implementation in Africa since 2013. During the workshop, participants followed with interest the presentation of some practical cases around Africa.

During this 5-day workshop, ABS Focal Point, tradi-practitioners, representatives of private sector and NGOs shared experiences, challenges and solutions with the implementation of the ABS principle on the continent.

Since 2006, the ABS Capacity Development Initiative has convened seven Pan-African workshops, as well as numerous training courses and multi-stakeholder workshops with a regional or issue-based focus. With the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) in 2010, the Initiative has also increased its support for national implementation. This includes support for the establishment of policy, institutional and legal frameworks towards specific ABS-compliant value chains. Another field of action is the support towards the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol. At the regional level, the Initiative is supporting the process of development and validation of the African Union guidelines for coordinated implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in Africa.

The main objectives of the workshop were therefore to update participants on international, national and regional processes related to ABS including the current draft of the AU guidelines for coordinated implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, discuss and exchange practical experiences on the elaboration of national ABS strategies, including investment and benefit-sharing policies for the strategic valorization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about and discuss several ABS-related issues during a day of thematic sessions.

The workshop also provided an opportunity for African Negotiators to coordinate and discuss the preparation for COP 12 of the Convention of Biodiversity of the Nagoya Protocol to be held in South Korea come October 2014.

By Manuella Hugue

*Manuella Huque is the Project Manager of the Echinops giganteus ABS Project at ERuDeF. She was Man and Nature's Special Representative at this conference in Benin.

08 April 2014

ERuDeF Unveils 2014 Agenda To The Media

Posted in News, Views 1687

Cross section of people at press conference

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) on March 29, in Buea, in the presence of some pressmen and women, alongside members of its Board of Trustees, unveiled her 2014 plan of action.

Addressing a team of media men and women at the Press Conference, the President/CEO of ERuDeF Louis Nkembi presented the route map of 2014 for his organization. According to the President the route map would focus on realizing the mission and objectives of ERuDeF and will form the basis for the development of a new strategic plan before the end of 2014.

"The success of our plan of action, centers on five cardinal principles of ERuDeF including; Biodiversity Management, Research, Protection of fragile environments, Education and Community Engagement" Louis Nkembi said. The President explained that through its Biodiversity Management Program, ERuDeF will be assisting the government of Cameroon to create and manage a certain number of protected areas. "Alongside the following up of the documents for the final classification of the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, ERuDeF will also be supporting the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife(MINFOF) to relaunch the final classification of the Mt Kupe Integral ecological Reserve and the consolidation of the important biological corridors within the proposed Bakossi-BayangMbo-Tofala Technical Operational Unit" Louis Nkembi said.

The ERuDeF Boss explained that within the Biodiversity Research Program, the organisation will continue to support the biological monitoring of the key species of fauna and flora including elephants, cross Rivers Gorillas, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, Red data plant species, Drills etc. The NW Chimpanzee conservation Research Project will also be launched to support the NW wide chimpanzee conservation efforts.

With regards to protecting fragile environments, ERuDeF as part of its 2014 agenda will focus on restoring the productivity of degraded and fragile ecological system in Cameroon. To this end, ERuDeF anticipates to plant over 50.000 trees. ERuDeF's current area of intervention as far as restoring degraded landscapes include the Mt Cameroon area, the Mt Bamboutos ecosystem and Lebialem Highlands.

In the area of education, ERuDeF has laid down four key focal points in which they will continue to improve on the quality of education delivery in rural schools by introducing competence based environmental education courses, Environmental Education Development Fund, operationising the Environmental Education Associations. Another education priority of the organization will be the training and capacity building of young leaders in environment, through the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-profit Studies in Buea. Through its PR and Corporate Partnership Program, ERuDeF looks forward to engage increasing number of public, civil society and private sectors partners in its efforts to fight biodiversity and environmental degradation.

Finally, ERuDeF looks forward in its 2014 plan of action, to increase the local, national and international community awareness on Cameroon's environmental issues through the monthly production of its Green Vision Newspaper.

An Annual Conservation Expo, which will be the first of its kind, is also scheduled for the end of the year. This Annual Conservation Expo will bring together the conservation successes of ERuDeF and its partners.

Through its Community Engagement Programme, ERuDeF looks forward to the launching of its Sliver Back Company (a social enterprise approach designed by ERuDeF to support the economic development of local communities). The Community Engagement Program will also see the organization Give back to the less privileged through the Give Back to the Community Initiative. The President used the Press Conference to officially launch the ERuDeF's Give Back to the Community Initiative, which aims to support some of the major social problems affecting the local people in the areas that ERuDeF operates, including hunger and social deprivation.

By December 2014, ERuDeF hopes to develop a new five year community embracing strategic plan which will run from 2015-2020, adopted by its Board of Trustees, to complete the restructuration process on-going at ERuDeF.

Also speaking at the Press Conference, the Public Relations and Corporate Partnerships Officer, Regina Leke said ERuDeF as an organization has as vision, to conserve and protect fragile environments through education, research, training and community engagement. She also added that for the past 14 years, ERuDeF as an organization, has stayed true to its vision by developing and strategizing on how to better address relevant rural and environmental issues.

She further revealed that part of their 2014 agenda was to build a strong relationship between her organization and the media in a bid to raise awareness on biodiversity conservation and also make the public understand what the organization does. Regina Leke also cautioned that in as much as ERuDeF was keen to developing a solid partnership with the media world, to better meet the objectives of the organization, information regarding ERuDeF to be published by the Media Partners should be sent to the Communication Department, for review. This was to ensure that whatever information published remains consistent with the vision of the organization.

ERuDeF will be accompanied in its 2014 agenda by some of its partners amongst which are the French Fund for Global Environment, Tusk Trust, Man and Nature, Mane Foundation, the French Embassy in Cameroon, Fauna and Flora International, Project Plus Action, Africa Conservation Foundation, My Tree Company, Lea Nature and Trees for the Future. ERuDeF also enjoys the support of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, at the national level. The President used the opportunity to appreciate the collaboration it receives from the national civil society organizations including Breaking Ground.

Patience Toge

08 April 2014

ERuDeF Donates Gifts To Orphans of The Roots for Kids Orphanage Buea

Posted in News, Views 1415

ERuDeF Hands down gift to Coordinator of orphanage

Within the frame work of their Give Back to the Community Initiative, staff, associates and members of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation alongside some media men and women have donated material gifts to the orphans of Roots for Kids Orphanage at Bokova, Buea.

The ceremony that took place at the Roots for Kids Orphanage in Bokova, on Friday March 28 2014, brought together some 17 orphans of Roots for Kids alongside their Management.

Speaking on behalf of the President of ERuDeF, the Director of Administration, Ms. Ita Nawom said even though giving was one of those things which people found it difficult to do, it was important for everyone to learn how to give, especially to the less privilege. She added that ERuDeF as an organization was only contributing its own little effort, as a means to give back to these orphans in the community. Ms. Ita hoped that others will also copy the initiative of ERuDeF, to help make the plight of the orphans and other under privileged in the community less painful.

While receiving the gifts on behalf of the children, The Orphanage's Coordinator Mr. Yaya Moses expressed his heart felt gratitude to the ERuDeF team, and the gift they had given to the children. He added that since the orphanage open in 2008, over 70 orphans have passed through Roots for Kids. He added further that so far about 17 orphans live in their premises and raising the children was such a herculean task.

According to Yaya Moses, the vision of Roots for Kids was to see the children grow up to become better people in life, than their parents who abandoned them. They hope to give the children a proper education so as to prepare them for a better future. He added that some of the activities at the orphanage consisted of feeding the children, sending them to school, ensuring that they sleep on time after doing their home work.

Patience Toge

08 April 2014

MINFOF Launches Creation process of Proposed Mak-Bectchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Posted in News, Views 1764

stakeholders at the launching of Mak betchou.

With the technical assistance of the Cameroon non-profit, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife through its Lebialem Divisional office has officially kick started the process for the creation of the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

This was on March, 14, 2014 during the Divisional sensitization meeting for Administrative and Traditional Authorities around the proposed Sanctuary. Chaired by the Lebialem Senior Divisional Officer, Kouemo Simon, the aim of the meeting was to sensitize all stakeholders concerned on the urgent need for Mak-Betchou to be made a full protected area.

Opening the event, the Senior Divisional Officer, Kouemo Simon said the event was very important because 'We are here to open a new page in conservation in Lebialem'. He cautioned that the process of creating a protected area warrants that all the stakeholders come to a compromise. "This is the reason why we are starting the process today with all the main actors' kouemo noted that in all the six divisions of the SW Region, Lebialem remains the only division without a protected area. He urged notables and representatives of villages bordering the proposed wildlife sanctuary to support government's efforts in conserving nature and reap the benefits other divisions with protected area enjoy, such as infrastructural development and eco-tourism.

In a presentation, the SW Regional Chief in charge of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Nono Joseph said that the protection of endangered plants, animal species and their habitat is a priority for the government. "Following the report of ERuDeF who has been doing research in this forest, there are some key species found in this forest such as the Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzee, a species found only in Nigeria and Cameroon" Nono Joseph said that the SW Regional Delegation is going to follow the procedure for the creation of a protected area "We have just begun. After this sensitization meeting, we are going to continue with the preparation of a Technical Note. This note will be forwarded to the Ministry in Yaounde so that a Public Notice is produced. Once we have this Public Notice, it will be published in all the communities surrounding the proposed Sanctuary and the other steps for creation will follow" Nono Joseph said. On the importance of gazetting the proposed site, Nono said "According to the Forestry Law, permanent forest estate is supposed to make up 30% of the entire forest, but as of now, we have just 17%. This protected area is therefore going to increase the area covered by the permanent forest in Cameroon". Nono Joseph equally said the presence of this protected area will equally bring about ecotourism and development. He said he is glad that the chiefs were so motivated and hopefully before the year runs out, the process would have come to an end.

On his part, the Representative of the Director of Wildlife at the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Onya Humphrey said "The Minister of Forestry is very committed to see a project of this magnitude to go from beginning to the end. It is in this light that the Director in charge of Wildlife and Protected Area sent me in order to ensure that the due process of gazetting a sanctuary is followed as provided for by the Forestry Law" Mr. Onya Humphrey said the sensitization meeting was just the inception stage and there will be many other meetings. But for a start, he thinks the stakes are high. "All those who have come here have expressed their wish for the process of gazettement to continue and the expected benefits will not only be for the state but also for the communities and the local residents surrounding the area"

In an interview, the Fon of Njoagwi HRH Fon Fotabong Vincent said "I think the protection of wildlife is a good thing to us because it will help bring development in one way or the other. As a leader, it is now incumbent on me to sensitize the villagers not to enter the protected area." The Fon thanked the government and its technical partner, ERuDeF for the idea to protect the Mak Betchou forest which according to him is rich in biodiversity.

Another leader HRH Chief Julius Fonkwete of Njoagwi Fotabong III said "The creation of the Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary is a new and brilliant idea and we embrace it so positively. So many animals have been destroyed ignorantly by the local people perhaps to earn a living. This has caused the population of some endangered species to reduce drastically. As a leader I will sensitize my people on the need to create this sanctuary" Chief Fonkwete said he is deeply impressed because he understands along the line, the villagers will have some sort of self employment as he gathered from the different presentations. He hopes that the creation will bring road, health and infrastructural development especially given that the roads in his Village Fotabong and Lebialem in general are a nightmare.

On his part, the CEO of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi expressed his happiness that the project has successfully been launched and thanked the enormous support from MINFOF, MINATD and the traditional authorities. He said the first phase of the program will last for 3 years with initial financial support coming from Tusk Trust UK, French Fund for Global Environment, Man and Nature, France and Trees for the Future USA.

About Mak-betchou

The proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located in the Fontem Sub-division, Lebialem Division, SW Region of Cameroon. It has a surface area of over 6900 hectares.The name Mak-betchou comes from two rivers that flow through the forest namely River Mak and River Betchou. This proposed protected area is surrounded by 3 villages namely Lebang, Essoh-attah and Njoagwi. From studies conducted by ERuDeF in collaboration with MINFOF and other technical partners between 2008 and now, the proposed sanctuary inhibits threatened species of wildlife including ,African Forest Elephants, Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzee, Drills, Antelopes, Bush Pig, and revealing signs of the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla etc. Threatened species of birds are also present in this area including, Bangwa Forest warbler, Bannerman's Turaco and Cameroon mountain greenbul.

By Regina Fonjia Leke

08 April 2014

FFEM’s Representative Lauds ERuDeF’s Effort in Project Execution

Posted in News, Views 1388

ERuDeF Team and FFEM Programme Manager examine Bee Farming project in Andu

The Programme Manager for the French Fund for Global Environment, better known by its French acronym, (FFEM), Silvia Rittossa, has expressed profound satisfaction on ERuDeF's execution of livelihoods projects scoring the organization a 9/10. She made this remark at ERuDeF Regional Office in Menji, Lebialem Division, March 19, 2014, as she went visiting projects supported by her organization in Cameroon.

Having been to some ERuDeF project sites around the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary notably, the pig farming and bee keeping projects in Andu, the FFEM Representative, who came "to see what ERuDeF has accomplished since 2010" was proud to have supported ERuDeF; "There is quite much and quality work on the ground that Louis is doing with his team. I saw with my own eyes how professional the organization is and how Louis is managing his staff. I think we did not make a wrong decision financing it for the second time".

Ms. Rittossa was particularly marvelled by the dedication and commitment the people of Mak-betchou have for the projects. "I have visited many projects in Africa but to be very candid with you this is the first time I have really seen people committed to a project and wanting more. We give bee hive to people as an alternative source of livelihood, but they are not always able to develop real honey production, but I am really confident that the development of this activity can bring quite some revenue to the people" She said.

The FFEM Programme Manager, who has hitherto shunned financing livestock project for fear that "the people will take and eat", was overwhelmed when Pa Nkemleke George, who received two piglets from ERuDeF in 2012, presented 12 piglets promising to give two to one other member of the community who did not benefit from ERuDeF's donation.

"I see that the people can be trusted. They don't even need a Memorandum of Understanding to be honest in their dealing. They understand the it worked in Andu unlike my thoughts" Mrs Rittossa said.

She also expressed great delight on ERuDeF's Education for Sustainable Development Programme, Echinops giganteus Project and the extent which the organization has gone with the gazetting process of the Proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary .

She attributed the success to the organization's ever presence at the project site and trust worthiness; "We have NGOs who remain in the regional capitals and hardly go to the fields or project sites but from what I see, ERuDeF staff are always on the field. The fact that they have a field office is a symbol of trustworthiness and I think it is not by chance that the organization has an increasing number of partners".

On his part, the President/CEO of ERuDeF Louis Nkembi, expressed lots of happiness with the visit of Silvia Rittossa to ERuDeF's project sites adding that it is an avenue for ERuDeF to know how "good or bad it has been able to implement and ameliorate where need be". He also promised to, together with his team, make the best out of any fund received from ERuDeF's donors.

Meanwhile the Chief of Andu, just like the people of the local community expressed gratitude to FFEM and other partners for "meeting their needs through ERuDeF"

Ndimuh Bertrand Shancho

08 April 2014

ERuDeF Sets Up 16 New Environmental Clubs

Posted in News, Views 1410

Students perform environmental dances and dramas

Sixteen new schools in villages surrounding the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary have been gaining new knowledge on conservation. This follows the recent creation of 16 new environmental clubs in these schools by Education for Sustainable Development Program team of ERuDeF. The schools include Government School(G.S) Tchougie-Nkong, Catholic School(C.S) Nkong, Government Secondary School(G.S.S) Nkong-Wabane , G.S. Amboh-Besali, C.S. Besali, Government Technical College(G.T.C) Betchati, Government Bilingual Secondary School(GBSS) Emolah-Nwangong, G.S Ndu Nwangong, GS Mmouckmbie, GS Atsombie-Mmouckmbie, GTC Mmouckmbie, GS Awut- Fossimondi, GS Mbelenka in Fossimondi, GBSS Mbelenka and GS Njo'agwi-Fontem. Adding to the 31 already established clubs, 47 environmental clubs now exist to drill students, pupils and teachers on the environment.

Since December 2013 with the arrival of ERuDeF's new team consisting of Akeh Nug and Emmanuel Ndip for Education for Sustainable Development Program, environmental education has taken a different phase especially in the subdivisions cutting across the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Three months into the arrival of this team, this area has had several visits from the team with steaming packages of conservation lessons, sensitization and awareness raising activities, EE-club involvements, a weeklong session during the youth week jam packed with exciting activities like conservation dramas, debates, poems, songs, lessons, articles and sporting activities involving both teachers and students not leaving out pupils. The education team has been working in close collaboration with both primary and secondary schools in the area and has adopted a new strategy in environmental education which includes outdoor activities and experiential learning. This new experimental strategy has seen a team of students to a Rainforest Expedition into the Tofala forest together with ERuDeF's bio-monitoring team to study the ecology of Great apes in the forest. The forest adjacent communities have not been left out as they have been involved in sensitization and awareness raising activities. The team envisages a subsequent change in attitudes towards best environmental and conservation practices in these communities. Rewards of these efforts have already started manifesting through the observation of more chimpanzees and gorilla signs in the proposed Sanctuary, an indication of a reduction of pressure on the forest and less hunting in this area. The team looks forward to better results as it forges ahead with more exciting plans geared towards academic understanding, acquisition of values, increased capacity, skills development and the adoption of attitudes and behaviour conducive to biodiversity preservation in the next quarter of the year.

By A. Nug

08 April 2014

ERuDeF Commemorates International Women’s Day

Posted in News, Views 1158

ERuDeF Women display at march pass

The women of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) on March 8, 2014 joined their counterparts world over to commemorate the 2014 edition of the International Women's Day. The women used the day to raise awareness on biodiversity conservation to thousands of onlookers in Buea, SW Cameroon during the march past through banners, flyers and posters carrying messages and pictures on the need to conserve threatened species and protect fragile environments.

In Cameroon, just like in other parts of the world, women called upon on this day to reflect on how they contribute to various aspects of life especially areas which have hitherto been branded as a man's world. It is in line with this that the women of ERuDeF put their voices and steps to march for the environment and let the world understand that women are true custodians of the environment and their role in its protection is indispensable. Earlier on, one of theirs, Asa'a Lemawah in the company of other women had exhibited their dexterity in riding motorbikes to usher in the Governor of the Southwest Region into the Grand Stand. The rest of the women folk at ERuDeF then marched past with pictures of the different species they clamour to protect including the Cross River Gorilla, the Cameroon Nigeria Chimpanzee, Elephants and other wildlife species.

The women of ERuDeF equally marched with tree seedlings calling on the world to plant a tree and contribute in the fight against global warming, food insecurity and desertification. Their march pass was equally a way of appreciating all the women who have worked hard in promoting the conservation of nature and the environment. Speaking after the march pass, one of the staff, Regina Leke said "I feel proud having taken part in this march pass. What is very essentially is that we want to use opportunities like this to sensitize people on conserving certain key endangered species of our country and also to make women understand they have an indispensable role in protecting the environment"

The International Womens Day it would be recalled is traced back to March 19, 1911 when men and women rallied in support of women's rights on that first International Women's Day. History has it that this day was inspired by America's National Women's Day, February 28, 1909, declared by the Socialist Party of America and through the years, evolutions to the appellation and significance of the day has quite changed. Recently, it is common to hear one refer to women's actions to be the result of the Beijing Conference on women but the Day of the woman has come a long way and it is not just a day of fun.

By Ita Nawom

08 April 2014

Draft Decree on ABS Re-Examined

Posted in News, Views 1193

Participants re-examining draft decree on ABS

The German Development Cooperation(GIZ) in partnership with COMIFAC through the support project for development of national policies on ABS funded by FEM/PNUET organized a two day workshop under the framework of implementing the National Strategy of ABS adopted since august 2012.

The workshop which took place in Mbalmayo, Center Region of Cameroon brought together the Representatives of sector administration, members of the civil societies including the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), the national council for traditional chiefs, tradi-practitioners, and the team for ABS coordination from Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED). The workshop which took place from March 17-18 brought together 25 participants. The objective of the workshop was to re-examine the draft for the decree on the Access and Benefit Sharing principle (ABS), and the Memorandum of Understanding between a French enterprise and the Cameroon government (MINEPDED) concerning the access and the utilization of the Echinops giganteus roots, an ABS pilot project in Cameroon being implemented by ERuDeF.

The workshop started with an opening word from the Technical Adviser N° 1 to the Minister of Environment, Mme Prudence Galega. She explained that the ABS principle is new in most part of the world and most leaders are now giving attention to it. She called upon the participants to give required attention to the workshop so that in the nearest future, they should be proud of their work. She called on a collective participation of all the stakeholders.

On the first day, the team worked on the Decree presenting the modalities and conditions of access to Genetic Resources and fair and equitable sharing arising from their utilization, and traditional knowledge associated.

A five page document encompassing five Chapters (chapter 1: general disposition and definition, chap 2: the scope of the decree, chap 3: the prior informed consent terms and the chapter 4: the mutual agreement terms and chapter 5: final, transitory and others dispositions) was adjusted, amended and reviewed by the participants.

On the second day, the formula on how to ask for access to natural resource was reviewed.

This was later followed by the reviewing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MINEDEPD and a French enterprise.

The workshop ended with the closing remark from the National Focal Point, Mr Paloma Joel appreciating the effort of the team in all the deliberations.

A validation of the documents reviewed at this meeting will take place this April 2014 and a signature is foreseen for May 2014 when all the two parties; the French company and the Minister of Environment Nature Protection and Sustainable Development would be present.

By Alida Lea Kenmene

08 April 2014

Fons Sensitized on Creation of Proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Posted in News, Views 1246

Fons, MINFOF Rep. and ERuDeF Staff  pose after sensitisation meeting

Fons of villages surrounding the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary have been sensitized on the need to protect the Mak-Betchou forest. The sensitization took place from February 8-13, 2014 when a team made up of the Divisional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife for Lebialem, Mboui Jacques, Chief of Wildlife for Lebialem, Njimin Thomas Amin, Chief of Forestry Post Fontem, Ngnitchiba Gah Edrissou and Protected Area Development Officer for the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Enokenwa Allen Tabi paid an official visit to the Essoh-Attah, Njoa'gwi and Lebang Fondoms.

Chairing the sensitization meeting, the Divisional Delegate for Forestry and Wildlife Mboui Jacques explained the ecological importance of the proposed sanctuary to the Traditional authorities. He said that the forest area harbors globally threatened species of wildlife such as, Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta africana), Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus), just to name these. Mr. Mboui Jacques also explained to the rulers the benefits that could accrue if the area is gazetted, including the touristic attraction of the place and some alternative livelihoods that they could be provided with.

It is to be recalled that due to increased human activities through forest clearance, illegal hunting of threatened species and others the local authorities of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife with the technical support of ERuDeF resolve to protect the Mak-Betchou forest which would act as a safe refuge for these globally threatened species.

After explanations from the team on the benefits that will arise if the area is protected, the different Fons expressed their willingness to support the project.

According to the Fon of Essoh-Attah, the project was even belated. 'We have a very rich forest in terms of wildlife and I welcome the initiative of this move.If you ask me, I will say it is even coming late, but better late than never' The Ruler said.

Given that most of the local people depend on farming and hunting, the Fon of Njoa'gwi on his part was interested in the benefits that he and his subjects will have if the area is protected. After receiving response from the team that alternatives to livelihood will be provided by government and partners, he was satisfied with the protection of the Mak-Betchou forest.

The Fon of Lebang village who was absent due to other duties delegated notables Ngu Francis and Kematem Michael of his Fondom to receive the sensitization team. On their part, they expressed worries on farmlands that are already found in the proposed protected area. However they were very pleased with the idea and Mr. NGU Francis shared his experience from other protected areas in Cameroon and the USA that he visited. They promised to give feedback to the Fon on what was discussed.

The Mak-Betchou forest is located in the Lebialem Division South West Region. The forest area was named from two river sources, "Mak" and "Betchou" that flow through it.

By Enokenwa Allen Tabi

08 April 2014

ERuDeF’s Alternative Livelihood Scales Up Around Mak-Betchou

Posted in News, Views 1185

Mature pigs

The alternative livelihood support to villages around the proposed Mak-Betchou area in the Lebialem Highlands has been scaling up in the last years. This finding was made during a recent visit by the President/CEO of ERuDeF Louis Nkembi accompanied by a Representative from the French Fund for Global Environment (FFEM), Silvia Ritossa.

ERuDeF with the support of the FFEM and other partners began a series of livelihood support around the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary as far back as 2012. ERuDeF donated piglets and beehives to some Common Initiative Groups(CIGs) and individuals. The donation was done such that the piglets would be revolving upon delivery; that is to say once a beneficiary's pig puts to birth, the fraction of the young piglets equivalent to what the beneficiary received would be given to another member of the CIG and it goes on through a system is known as 'Pass-on-the gift'

In this special visit with FFEM's Silvia Ritossa paid to the beneficiaries more than one year since they received the piglets, it was realized that the donated piglets have started reproducing and more and more people have benefitted through the revolving system. One of the beneficiaries, Nkemleke George of Andu community has seen his pig delivered 6 piglets whose distribution to the rest of the community is underway. The pigs of Robert Nkem-Amin are currently pregnant with delivery date fast approaching and the same tradition of sharing would be respected following the engagement that the community entered with ERuDeF. Another beneficiary Mr. Thadeous has already shared his young eight piglets with his community members.

It should be recalled that a total of 11 piglets were donated to this small community of Andu around the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary. With average birth of 7 piglets per donated pig to the community, it could be concluded that by the end of 2014, out of the 11 piglets donated, the community will have about 88 pigs and piglets circulating in the community and benefitting a larger number of the population, excluding the chances of birth of newly delivered piglets. Over the next five years, the impact of this project is expected to have spread across the communities, thereby improving the livelihood of the villagers.

In an interview with a Native and Beneficiary, Mr. Nkemleke, he lauded the donation as a livelihood alternative to forest conservation and promised long term collaboration with the project, while calling on his fellow villagers to jealously protect the forest.

In 2014, 70 more piglets and 70 bee hives would be given to the communities. Earlier on in 2013, ERuDeF successfully launched a semi-giant palm oil pressing mill in Essoh-attah and the first pilot industrial processing mill was launched in March 2014. This oil mill is expected to produce over 2 tons of improved palm oil per day. Many other livelihoods and economic development initiatives are being anticipated for Mak-Betchou villages.

It is important to note here that the donation of piglets and bee hives to these community is a strategy of ERuDeF and her partners to divert the attention of the villagers from destroying the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary, thus providing a safe haven for some globally protected species living in this forest including the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, Forest Elephants and the critically endangered Cross River Gorillas.

By Hodu Forbe with contribution from Louis Nkembi

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