Ecological Balance Brazes up to Rewild Community Forests, Watersheds with 30,000 Trees

Ecological Balance is fine-tuning strategies and putting hands on deck to raise 35000 seedlings and ensure that at least 30,000 are planted before the end of 2022.

The Organization  is currently engaged in collecting seeds, filling in polybags with top soil mixed with fowl dung (organic manure), and potting of seedlings at it tree nursery in Bomaka-Buea, SW Cameroon, with a special focus on trees classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List. The potted seedlings are watered and dewed to ensure that they are healthy. .

Over 12000 seeds of Mahogany have so far been collected from Bokwango and 500 of njangsa from Bova and nursed. Over 2000 seeds of Leuceana  & 1000 of bauhinia have also been collected  from the University of Buea and over 1000 of seeds of acacia from Bulu and nursed. These seedlings will be added unto the 3323 seedlings of Jakaranda, Jathropha, prunus, mahogany, acacia, jack fruit tree, vocanga, njangsa, erythrina, sour sop, orange, lemon, pebbe, lueceana, bush mango, pignantus, money tree and plum tree seedlings that were raised in 2021.

“We have a big target this year of raising the nursery from 3323 trees in 2021, to 35000 in 2022, while hoping to  plant at least 30000 of them in community forests in Cameroon including the Etinde and Bakingili community forests, and water catchments. This only means we have to plan well and begin early,” said Madam Limbi Blessing, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance. 

According to her, these trees will  revamp community forest ecosystems, ensure community forest level sustainability in the management of forest resources, increase goods and services from forest and recharge ground water and improve water tables.  

NJIAFU BENARDIN

90% of 1000 Trees Planted at Etinde Community Forest Survives!

Up to 90% of over 1000 trees seedlings, which Ecologocal Balance planted into a deforested patch of the Etinde community forest in West Coast-Idenau of the South West Region of Cameroon in November 2021, have survived. This information was made public by the  Head of Forest Rewilding at Ecological Balance, Njiafu Benardin, following an evaluation trip to the Community Forest in February 2022.

Etome is one of the several villages that hosts the Etinde Community Forest in the Mount Cameroon Area, South West Region of Cameroon within the Bakingili forest landscape. This community forest continually lost its forest to deforestation for agricultural purposes, fuel wood and timber harvesting, and from lava flowing from Mt Etinde.

Cognizant of this and in line with its desire to provide habitat for wildlife and mitigate climate change, Ecological Balance Cameroon in 2021 committed to helping the village to rebuild their forest, tree by tree. Over 10 native species including Entandrophragma angolensis (big leave mahogany) Riccinodendron heudolotii (njangsa), Irvingia gabonesis (bush mango) and Monodora myristica (pebbe) and some fruit and nut producing trees were planted. The choice of these predominantly local spices-producing trees, was to make the women and community value their forest more and jealously preserve it

 Meanwhile, more tree planting events are planned for the months ahead. Routine monitoring and evaluation activities like deweeding, collection of data on growth characteristics, wildlife etc will continue for up to 24 months when the forest is expected to be self-sustaining. It is hoped that through this project, up to one hectare of degraded forest land will be restored in order to restore biodiversity habitats, recharge ground water recharge & improve water tables, increase quantities & varieties as well as sequester carbon amongst others. The rewilding project is being carried out  thanks to financial support from Stiftung Arthenschutz.  

Over 50 Cameroonian Youths Determined to Make a Difference After Inspirational Trip

“One of the things that I have learnt from this inspirational trip is how to balance my skills and certificates. I already acquired so many certificates and right know, I am embarking on developing my skills. I want to have something that I can actually do to serve my community and increase my living standard and those around me. This trip has served as an inspiration for that and I am really grateful,” said Dr Enama Albert, a Bomaka-based Cameroonian youth at the end of a 1-day Youth Inspirational Trip involving some 50 young people within the Buea Municipality, organized recently by Ecological Balance.

The Cameroon-based non-profit organization took the youngsters to some start up enterprises in Buea. These included a rattan craft and furniture center, and a packaging enterprise, where the founders and managers of shared their success journeys to let the youths know that there is so much they can do to navigate their way through the rising unemployment, poverty, lack of access to basic social security services and outright insecurity in Cameroon.

The young boys and girls sat through inspirational talks on topics like Entrepreneurial Mindset, The Missing Link Between Certificates and Skills, Holistic Communication, Academic Excellence & Research, The Co-operative Business Model and Backing for the Outstanding Youth amongst others as they journey from Buea to Down Beach-Limbe and back.  After seating through this journey, Betafo Evodia Kombe of Molyko-Buea now believes it is possible to make it in Cameroon. “This trip has inspired me to understand that I can make it here in Cameroon. I have come to understand that I can create an enterprise using the natural resources we have here in Cameroon like the rattan craft and furniture enterprise. All I need is to be focused, build and use my communication skills, dedicate my time in building new skills and looking for opportunities to invest the skills in,” she stated.  

Dr. Shey Robert Adamu, one of the Resource Persons noted that a visible change in the youths shortly after the Trip.  “Knowledge is power; with what we have dished out today, I think that there is a change in perspective, and mindset and they can be able to make a difference in their lives by themselves and not just relying on the Government,” he said. 

Aimed at inspiring youths to be the change they want, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance urged the young Cameroonians to leverage on the knowledge gathered from the different speakers, and take actions to make the change they want and be the change they want to see.

Ecological Balance Donates Food Items to 25 Displaced Families in Buea

Ecological Balance Cameroon has donated food items including rice, vegetable oil and chicken to 25 internally displaced families in the Buea Town, Muea, Bomaka, and Mile 16 communities in Buea. The donation was made 1st February 2022 within the framework of the Organization’s Eco Food Bank project.

The beneficiaries, 90% being mothers, expressed gratitude to Ecological Balance as they happily took their packs home. “I am very grateful for these food items donated to us today. Food stuff had completely gotten finished in my house, with no money to any.  So, these food items will be of great help to my family and I,” said one of the beneficiary Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Mrs. Ntah Stephanie. Another IDP, Mr. Ntowe Jean Paul, who is host to twelve children; both his biological children and other family relatives, heaved a sigh of relieve after receiving the donation. “I am grateful for this great initiative to save us from hunger,” he said.

These reactions brought so much joy and a sense of fulfillment to the Ecological Balance’s Executive Director, Limbi Blessing Tata.  “The smiles, stories and comments from beneficiaries each time we donate food always leave me overwhelmed with joy and I always get really emotional, I can’t help it!” she attested.  

While donating to the IDPs, Madam Limbi counselled her team to exercise respect and show love to the beneficiary. This attitude of the team has been widely appreciated by beneficiaries. Ecological Balance hopes to reach out to 100 displaced families with food and skills by the end of 2022.

Agborkang Godfred Ebot

Ecological balance’s Living Food Bank Produces More Food Crops for Needy Families

The Living Food Bank of Ecological Balance in Bokwango-Buea, South West Region of Cameroon had a bountiful yield of  a variety of crops during the last harvest in January 2022. Over 72kg of beans, 180kg of maize, and a good quantities of pumpkins, vegetables and cassava were harvest from the Living bank to meet the needs of internally displaced and or needy families in different communities in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon.

The Food Bank of Ecological Balance was established in 2019 to meet the needs of internally displaced families as a result of the arm conflict rocking the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, and other needy families. “We made an appeal to support internally displaced families but the donations that came in were not enough. Hence, we sowed that as seed to harvest more within a few months. We have a team with great skills in agriculture and wanted to make use of this and the rich volcanic soils in Buea to produce more food for the increasing displaced population in Buea,” Madam Limbi Blessing Tata, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance expounded.

With this increase in yields from the Living Bank, the Organization has raised its usual donations of food items from 20 to 25 families. The Living Food Bank is part of the Climate Smart Agricultural Programme of Ecological Balance, which seeks to end hunger, improve nutrition, ensure food security & sovereignty without harming the environment (forests, soils, and water).

BY AGORKANG GODFRED EBOT

Job Opportunities at Ecological Balance: Project Manager, Communication Manager

Call for applications: Job Opportunities  

Organization: Ecological Balance Cameroon

Category: Non-Profit Organization

Location/City: Buea, South West Cameroon

 

Background

Ecological Balance Cameroon is a non-profit organization dedicated to balancing conservation with livelihoods. It was registered in December 2016 with mission to empower communities that live near biodiversity rich ecosystems to undertake actions that would ensure the sustainability of their adjacent ecosystem.  This stems down from the belief that ecosystem conservation can be most sustainable if it is led by people living close to and more so if it contributes to their livelihoods.

 

We are currently hiring committed and reliable individuals, who are willing to contribute to our mission.

  1. Project Manager

The Irvingia programme is developing value chains for non-wood forest products in Cameroon. The aim of which is to help forest dependent communities to earn more money from non-wood forest products, so that they have reasons to protect their adjacent forests. Basically, we train forestpreneurs, help them establish forest-based businesses and help them market the end products. We are looking at expanding our operations to include a cooperative society and setting up of various production units. Within this context, we seek the services of a project manager to;

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Produce action plans presentations and reports on all activities
  • Organize trainings on adding value to/ processing to natural products
  • Set up and supervise small businesses
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in proposal writing and production of research write-ups
  • contribute to strategies for product development, propose innovations in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with at least 3years experience in project and business management. S/he should have conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting, value chain development, forestry and related field.  Skills in commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections are essential. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization & management, business models and business administration will be an added advantage.

 2. Media & Communications Manager

In order to properly communicate our activities, Ecological Balance seeks the services of a Media & Communications Assistant to help us manage all communications.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Rebrand and restructure all communications
  • Manage all online communications platforms; facebook, instagram, twitter, LinkedIn (create content, online adverts, direct live coverage etc to improve online presence) and ensure traffic on all media platforms
  • Direct picture & video coverage, edit videos, produce documentaries, podcasts, video reports etc.
  • Oversee all offline communication activities: produce write ups; oversea newspaper, radio and television programs; documentaries, brochures, roll ups, reports, press releases, ensure external coverage of events etc.
  • Oversea writing & reviewing of news articles and ensure on time publication of e-newsletters
  • Assist in the organizing and managing of events, production of plans and presentations
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts.
  • Assist in developing a Conservation Education curriculum, conducting environmental education and other activities within the organization

Required Qualification

Three years’ experience in media/communication/content development. Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication, media studies, branding, marketing and any related field. Skills in graphic design, multimedia, branding and marketing are must haves.

How to Apply

Interested and qualified applicants should submit the complete application files comprising of a CV, motivation letter and copies of certificates to communication@ecobalances.org and cc limbitatab@ecobalances.org  latest January 15th 2021.

 

Limbi Blessing T.

Executive Director

Volunteer Positions at Ecological Balance

Call for applications: Volunteer Positions

Organization: Ecological Balance Cameroon

Category: Non-Profit Organization

Location/City: Buea, South West Cameroon

 

Background

Ecological Balance Cameroon is a community-based biodiversity conservation and sustainable development non-profit organization dedicated to balancing conservation with livelihoods. It was registered in December 2016 with mission to empower communities that live near biodiversity rich ecosystems to undertake actions that would ensure the sustainability of their adjacent ecosystem.  These stemmed down from the belief that ecosystem conservation can be most sustainable if it is led by people living close to and depending on it and more so when it contributes to their livelihoods.

We are currently seeking committed and reliable individuals, who are willing to contribute to our vision and mission for a 3-months renewable period.

 

 

  1. Project Assistant

Our Project Irvingia is developing value chains for non-wood forest products in Cameroon. The aim of which is to help forest dependent communities to earn more money from non-wood forest products, so that they have reasons to protect their adjacent forests. Basically, we train women/youths to add value to and/or process natural products to semi-finished and finished goods.

Within this context we seek the services of a project assistant.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Produce action plans presentations and reports on value chain development activities
  • Organize trainings on adding value to/ processing to natural products
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in proposal writing and production of research write-ups
  • contribute to strategies for product development, propose innovations in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting and related field.  Skills in commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections are essential. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization & management, business models and business administration will be an added advantage.

 

  1. Agricultural technician

Our Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Programme requires the services of an agric technician.  CSA is an integrated approach to managing landscapes (cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries) that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. The goal (dilemma) being to produce enough food without significantly harming the environment (soil, forests etc).

Within this context, the agricultural technician is expected to bring on board skills in modern agricultural practices and technology.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Support in the day to day management of food banks and demonstration farms
  • Put forth strategies for expansion of existing projects and creation of more innovative one (irrigation systems, clean energy farming etc)
  • Support the development of training schemes in farm optimization, forest gardening, apiculture, mushroom cultivation, grafting, marcoting, tissue culture, plant multiplication
  • Equipment operation (Drone, tractor)
  • Agric management software/apps
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Agriculture, Plant Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Crop Production/Protection and related field.  Skills in entrepreneurship, commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections would come in handy. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization and management will be an added advantage.  Knowledge in business models, business administration and management would be a plus.

 

  1. Media & Communications Assistant

In order to properly communicate our activities, we seek the services of a Media & Communications Assistant to help us manage all communications.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Develop a Conservation Education curriculum
  • Carryout environmental education in schools & communities
  • Assist in organizing and managing conservation awareness events
  • Produce plans, presentations and reports on biodiversity conservation activities
  • S/he should be familiar with and possess skills in the management of all known online platforms; facebook, instagram, twitter.
  • S/he is expected to produce online adverts, upload at least one post each week on all platforms, direct live coverage and coordinate everything that can help improve our online presence.
  • S/he will work with our team on the field to produce short documentaries, brochures etc.
  • Respond to comments and do all necessary to increase traffic on our media platforms.
  • S/he will direct picture & video coverage, edit videos, produce documentaries, podcasts etc.
  • Develop social media & website content and assist in promoting and publicizing activities
  • Produce and/or proofread reports
  • Oversea writing of news articles, assist in the reviewing of articles, assist in the publication of e-newsletters
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts and assist in reforestation activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication, media studies and any related specialization or currently embarking on studies in any of these domains. Skills in graphic design and multimedia would come handy.

 

General Required Competences

  • Passion and interest in mission and objectives of Ecological Balance
  • Good team spirit and communication skills
  • Ability to speak and write good English, knowledge of French will be an advantage
  • Ability to work and interact with people of different backgrounds
  • Ability to multi task and work under pressure
  • Willingness to adhere to Ecological Balance’s core values

 

Benefits

  • A valuable opportunity to learn and gain the much needed experience required in the job market for your area of specialization
  • Brings you in touch with other like-minded individuals in career for more meaningful networking
  • Fulfillment and happiness for making a real and valuable impact on nature, communities and the society
  • Possibility of being employed after the stated period
  • Attestation of service and/or recommendation for greater opportunities

 

How to Apply

Interested and qualified applicants should submit the complete application files comprising; a motivation letter, copies of certificates and a CV to: limbitatab@ecobalances.org latest December 31st 2021.

 

Limbi Blessing T.

Executive Director

 

2700 Trees Planted at Bwitingi Water Catchment to Improve Water Table

Ecological Balance has planted some 2700 indigenous trees seedlings including 11 native tree species like the globally threatened Entandrophragma angolensis (big leaf mahogany), Prunus africana (pygeum) and Voacanga angolensis at the Bwitingi water catchment in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon, using the innovative miyawaki method. The trees were planted in August 2021 to recharge ground water and increase the water table of the catchment, which is the lone source of drinking water to over 5000 homes in Bwitingi and other neigbouring villages. 

Planted with the help of some volunteers, the initiative was greeted with so much joy by community members, who saw it as step towards restoring the identity of the Bwitingi village.  “The name Bwitingi means half water half land. In the early 19th century, about half of our land was covered in water and everyone required the services of canoes to get access to and go out of Bwitingi village. We are losing the meaning of our name! If nothing is done to safeguard this river and it eventually dries up completely like the others, then we would have lost our trade mark. Many people prefer our water because it is colder and purer than others found at lower areas along the Mt. Cameroon gradient. I am afraid this might not be the case someday if nothing is done to protect the catcment,” said Mola Mokoto, Bwitingi village notable during a consultation meeting with the staff of Ecological Balance.

Bwintingi water catchment is the third chapter of the SUGi – Ecological Balance love story. Beside suppling water to over 5000 homes, the catchment is a veritable water source for many from other neighborhoods in Buea, as vehicles take turns daily to tap the precious liquid for different homes. The river also hosts several car washes along its course.

The planting of the 2700 trees at the water catchment, is the fruit consultative talks  with local authorities that started early 2021. The rewilding exercise was made possible with funds donated by The SUGi Project through the SUGi app.

Njiafu Benardin

Buea Women Acquire Skills on Oil Extraction from Forest Seeds

Some 12 women from Buea, South West Region of Cameroon,  last August 23 to 27, 2021 converged on the Irvingia training centre for hands-on training on the transformation of oils extracted from forest seeds into cosmetic products. This was a follow up training after that on the extraction of 100% organic oils.

The oils produced included castor oil, coconut oil, plum oil, njangsa oil, paw paw oil, carrot oil, cocoa oil. The training that was aimed at adding value in order to increase profit margins, according to participants was very timely. “Castor beans is totally useless but the oil is used traditionally for coronation of chief and to  purge  twins of  with craft. A small 100ml bottle of castor oil is sold for FCFA 2000,” said Hannah, one of the trainees.

“I have never heard of plum oil. Just imagine all the plum fruits that are thrown in Buea and neighbouring villages during their season because they get rotten. Imagine turning all of that into oil? That would be a fortune!” she noted

The various oils were then transformed into vaseline, hair oil, body lotions and medicated bathing & washing soaps.

Eco Food Bank Project Donates to 23 IDP Families in Buea

Ecological Balance has within the framework of its Eco Food Bank Project, donated food and non-food items to some 23 IDP families in Buea. Donated September 24, 2021, each of the families from  Bambalang and Bafut in the North West Regiong, and Mautu, Muyuka centre, Banga, Muyenge, Alou and Lewoh from different divisions of the South West Region, went home with rice, cooking oil, salt, maize, maize flour, food sweeteners, and soaps (bathing and washing).

 

Though this number of families were reached, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, Ms. Limbi blessing, holds that it is just a small section of the number of IDP families in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Buea. “We budgeted for 20 families but finally reached out to 23.  About 72 hours to our donation event, I received over 200 calls. We had planned to donate food to a total of 50 families this year but I have about 180 more families waiting. There still much to be done,” she said.

 

The Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon started in November 2016 and since then, many have fled their homes to neighboring towns to seek refuge from ever increasing insecurity and violence.  UNHCR records (March 2019) indicate that as of October 2018, an estimated there 437,000 had been internally displaced by the crisis; 246,000 of them in the Southwest Region, 105,000 in the Northwest Region, and 86,000 in the Littoral & West Regions and 35,000 in Nigeria. Over 15,780 more were reportedly newly displaced in the NW/SW in June 2020 and the figures keep increasing. The crisis has been widely reported by Aljezeera, Deustche Welle, Human Rights Watch and was second on the list of the world’s most neglected crisis (Norwegian Refugee Council, May 2021).

The victims now called internally displaced persons or IDPs, a majority of whom are women and children have lost their houses (many villages were completely burnt down), source of livelihoods and are in dire need of  food and shelter. Njou Loveline for instance now resides in Bomaka-Buea haven fled from Munyenge a village in Muyuka, South West Region together with her mother and siblings. “Here in Buea, we face a lot of challenges especially with food. We barely eat once a day and it’s in the evening and most often its either rice or garri”, she lamented.

According to Cecilia Efuah, another IDP, the challenges are too many. “Buea is very cold yet we sleep on mats on the floor. We cannot afford food and drugs talk less of sending our children to school. Presently, my children are sick and I think it is due to bad nutrition, we have been drinking garri for too long,” she explained, with tears oozing from her eyes.

It is even more challenging to single parents. I am not a lazy parent. I had farms in Mautu that I worked and fed my children without any stress. Now, I am unable to give them even garri or rice; the suffering is at another level,” said Kudi Pepetua, and IDP single mother.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization access to adequate food or means for its procurement is a fundamental human right. In their words, ‘every human being, every citizen of an ordinary country, has the right to food necessary to his/her survival. Every woman, man and child, alone or in community with others must at all times have physical and economic access to adequate food’. This is only a mirage for many families of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.

The Eco Food Bank was set up as a forest garden demonstration farm with aim to train farmers in Buea, SW Cameroon on climate-smart agriculture. In response to need, it is now also a living food bank.

Agborkang Godfred