GREENLIFE West Africa Empowers Coastal Communities and Restores Mangroves in Sherbro River Estuary, Coastal Sierra Leone

Mangroves provide natural infrastructure that helps protect nearby populated areas by reducing erosion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather events such as hurricanes, making mangroves critically important to the ecosystem. Their dense roots help bind and build the soil. To protect this important tree species, GREENLIFE West Africa, in partnership with the Coastal Environmental Watch Organization (CEWO), implemented a coastal resilience project from 2021 to 2023 under the European Union-funded Management of Mangrove Forests from Senegal to Benin (PAPBio) project which aimed to increase knowledge of coastal community members on mangrove restoration, climate change adaptation measures, and Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA).

In late February 2024, GREENLIFE West Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wetlands International (WI), and other PAPBio project partners held a Coastal Master Planning Workshop in Bo, Sierra Leone where Sahuna Bangura, Program Officer of GREENLIFE Sierra Leone presented on the implementation of the project in the Sherbro River Estuary (SRE), Bonthe District, Sierra Leone.

Participatory Resource Mapping in SRE

Under the PAPBio project, GREENLIFE West Africa strengthened the capacities and resilience of stakeholders, community dwellers, and youth to adapt to climate change impacts in SRE by developing and implementing an awareness-raising plan on the prevention of human/wildlife conflict and the importance of biodiversity to livelihoods. The project also developed best practice manuals on the sustainability of coastal resources and climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

GREENLIFE also produced and disseminated 300 posters, 300 flyers, and a radio jingle in local languages including Krio, Mende, and Sherbro. A video documentary on coastal landscape restoration and climate change was produced, and a campaign was carried out across 12 communities on preventing human/wildlife conflict.

Additionally, 13 nature clubs were established in SRE schools, 132 community members were trained to manage Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), construct embankments, practice agri-silviculture, and restore mangroves. Moreover, 35 community members were trained in Participatory Resource Mapping, and 12 Mangrove Restoration Committees were re-organized and registered.

Rev. Umaru L. Koroma, Chairman of the Sherbro River Estuary Co-Management Committee, who attended the validation workshop spoke highly of the project and its impact on the communities. “We want to thank God for a successful validation workshop and the grand master plan. This PAPBio Project has been around for close to three years and all the partners came together and ensured a successful implementation. Particularly, I appreciate GREENLIFE West Africa and its partners for the successful implementation of the project in Sherbro River Estuary. But, despite the good work done, the mangroves are still under threat. The river banks are being washed away, so we need more funding and more collaboration to continue protecting and restoring the mangroves.”

Restored mangroves trees growing in SRE

GREENLIFE West Africa and Wetlands International are developing project proposals to mobilize funding to continue working in SRE and other coastal landscapes in Sierra Leone and the Greater West Africa region.

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