Deep in the heart of Mampuma village, Koya Chiefdom in the Kenema District, Eastern Sierra Leone, Foday Kallon is a beneficiary farmer of the Welt Hunger Hilfe project that supports individual and group farmers in a Biodiversity project to protect the Gola Forest National Park.
“I cultivate cocoa, pineapples, plantains coconut groundnut. When they are ripe, I harvest them and send them Kenema town, where they fetch good price. I send some of the money to my older children going to school in Kenema City and use the remaining to take care of my family back in the village.”
His friend- Ibrahim Jusu, belongs to a farming group that is cultivating a community farm in Baoma village in the same Chiefdom. He is benefitting from a kind of farmer school that trains farming groups on maximizing productivity throughout the different stages of farming: cultivation, harvesting, processing and marketing.
“Before I joined the farming group, my annual yield was low, and a little illness could see me out of business for a couple of days, but now I am learning to cultivate with others, and the communion with other farmer, some of whom are also my relatives and siblings is wonderful.” Jusu said.
Both men are beneficiaries of three activities under the Mano River Ecosystems Conservation and International Water Resources Management Project implemented in collaboration with the Gola Forest Company limited by Guarantee and Welt Hunger Hilfe, in that part of Sierra Leone
The project’s technical consultant, Abdulai Barrie, said the main thrust of the project, as the name implies, is the conservation of the ecosystem and protection of transboundary waters along the course of the Mano River, Moa River and Great &Little Scarcies River. Barrie said beneficiary communities were selected through the The Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM), produced by IUCN and the World Resources Institute (WRI), provides a flexible and affordable framework for countries to rapidly identify and analyse areas that are primed for forest landscape restoration (FLR) and to identify specific priority areas at a national or sub-national level.
The WHH head of the project, George Muigai, said they are working with 1700 farmers (1360 males & 340 females) which have been registered in 62 communities in seven chiefdoms in Kenema, Kailahun & Pujehun districts, and that 66% of their farms are already cultivated, while the outstanding 44% are ongoing and will be completed in first week of September, 2021.He also said that WHH started with 700 farmers and out of the 1500 farmers ,800 farmers have already out planted 923.3 acres of degraded lands in the landscape
Paramount chief of Koya chiefdom, PC Alamin Kanneh emphasized on the need for gender equity in the distribution of individual and community farms, as he said women have always been hugely passionate about farming and conservation matters. He said that he would work towards instituting byelaws that would protect the growth and sustainability of the community farms, and also ecosystem conservation, and water resource management issues.
“We do not allow loggers to cut timber around here anymore, as we have been taught in the farmer school that our work protects the ecosystem biodiversity and water resources in the area, and that mix-cropping consolidates the soil’s fertility.” The paramount Chief concluded.
The Mano River Ecosystems Conservation and International Water Resources Management Project is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) through the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and implemented by National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA) and National Water Resources Management Agency (NWRMA) as the two National Executing Agencies. The project through its Implementing Partner Welt Hunger Hilfe supports individual and group farmers in a Biodiversity initiative to protect the Gola Forest National park through Forest landscape Restoration and livelihood enhancement.