On September 4, 2021, GREENLIFE West Africa in collaboration with the Coastal Environmental Watch Organization (CEWO) organized a start-up workshop at the Bonthe Town Municipal Council Hall to inform key stakeholders about the project’s implementation strategies.
Participants included representatives from all the twelve (12) targeted communities (Yargoi, York Island, Momaya, Borpu, Jayehun, Sengehun, Bomp lake, Gbongboma, Bendu, Keiga, Hanging Site, and Bonthe Town), local authorities, Community Based Organizations and other key players involved in coastal landscape management in the Sherbro River Estuary.
Tom Menjor, the Project Team Lead, provided an overview of the project details with emphasis on the implementation approach, expected results, and sustainability. He informed the community leaders about the responsibilities of the parties involved; hence, CEWO will be responsible for implementing most of the community-level project activities as they are a local organization based in Bonthe whilst GREENLIFE West Africa will provide resources and technical support. The stakeholders from the twelve communities and other key players were encouraged to support both organizations to achieve their overarching goal, which is to increase knowledge on environmental best practices, mangrove restoration, the protection of marine species such as manatees; and create financial systems through the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA).
The project is titled ‘Management of Mangrove Forests from Senegal to Benin’ or PAPBio. It is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Wetlands International. The project approach will be community-centered, hence community working groups will be formed, reviewed, and revived for the smooth implementation of the project. Key activities will also include organizing and coordinating mangrove restoration and teaching communities how to erect embankments to reduce the risk of flooding and prevent the erosion of farms.
The stakeholders pledged their total support in ensuring that the project becomes a success and sustainable. They however suggested that in getting the project to achieve its ultimate goal, there should be community ownership in that the communities should be at the center of every activity during implementation. They also mentioned that some groups already exist that should be maintained, and refresher training should be organized to bring them up to speed going forward. In addition, it was suggested that the project draws up by-laws and such laws should be enforced. During the workshop, Mr. Mohamed M. Robinson, Deputy Mayor of Bonthe District Council, emphasized that the project is timely, and it is expected that the project will provide the requisite knowledge community stakeholders need to protect their communities from environmental challenges.