Buea Ladies Confirm Cloth Pads as Better Alternative

After continuous sensitization of young girls and women via workshops and during the World Environment Day on cloth pads and its advantages to health, finance, moral and even the environment at large, some ladies within the Buea Municipality have confirmed that cloth pad is a better alternative to be used during menstruation.

 

 

Haven had the experience of also using the cloth pads as recommended by Ecological Balance, Lambi Sonia, disclosed recently that the difference with other menstrual pads is clear.  “Cloth pad is very comfortable and economical. It doesn’t pollute the environment nor smell because there is room for moisture to evaporate. The pad is highly hygienic and requires little water for cleaning,” she added.

Corroborating Ms. Lambi, another Buea-based lady, Anita Ngalla, hinted that “truly cloth pad is environmentally friendly and healthier than single-used pads. It is cheaper especially on the long run and could be readily available if trained local tailors engage in the production”.

The sustainable menstruation project of Ecological Balance geared towards engaging young girls and women in the use of environmentally friendly pads and to take responsibility for their menstrual waste was launched in February 2020 in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon. The project is aimed at protecting the environment, salvaging young girls and women from spending much money on menstrual pads, and to demystify the shame around menstruation and revalue it because life depends on it. Besides sensitization, there is a capacity building arm of the project that  trains local seamstresses on cloth pads production, and  a social business arm that sells high quality cloth pads produced, and donates some to vulnerable young women and institutions.

Ecobalance Staff Acquire Skills on Project Communication

Some staff of Ecological Balance have acquired skills on project communication that will assist them in giving visibility to the Organization and effectively communicating with partners and project stakeholders. This was during a 2-month training in Buea organized with the technical support of Voice of Nature.

According to the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, Ms. Limbi Blessing Tata, the organization of the training came from the understanding of the importance of communication in maintaining a cordial relationship with partners, and expanding the network of the Organization.

Haven gained fresh knowledge on impact reporting, information gathering & project article writing and basics on project photo taking, participants left the training determined to make a difference. “I have greatly improved on article writing, impact reporting and other aspects of project communication. This new knowledge will help me better communicate on any project I am attached to within the organization,” Njiafu Bernadine, one of the staff said.

Another staff, Hendreta Konjieh, expressed gratitude to Ecological Balance for “the opportunity given to us to acquire knowledge and the basic skills in article writing, photography and impact reporting. I now know how to gather information on the impact of the Organization, and how to produce a good impact article”.

It is thus, expected that each of the staff will use the skills gathered to contribute to the Organization’s mission of empowering local communities to independently undertake actions that ensure long term sustainability of their adjacent ecosystems.

Over 88% of Trees Planted at Bulu Water Catchment Using Miyawaki Method Survive!

The efforts of Ecological Balance to clean recharge and conserve underground water of the Bulu water catchment in Buea is yielding success. Out of the 3000 tree seedlings and cuttings planted in March 2020, 2700 of them are growing well giving a survival rate of over 88%.

This statistics is generated from monthly data collected during monitoring field visits to the site under the auspices of Head of the Reforestation Unit of Ecological Balance, Njiafu Benardin. While collecting the monthly data, the monitoring team noted visible signs of clean recharge. “We have seen all types of crabs. This is an indicator of a clean fresh water ecosystem,” Mr. Njiafu opine.

Few months after the tree planting exercise, community members are already witnessing a mark difference.  “Since  the trees were planted, I have noted that the catchment has remained ‘unusually’ clean” Chief Mafani John, traditional ruler of Kombo village attests. He added that “I have not seen any project that planted and maintained trees. Most of the trees are surviving and the environment is gradually becoming green. This initiative should be replicated all over Buea. I have taken upon myself to educate my fellow chiefs on this project”.

Conserving the Bulu water catchment, according to the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, Ms. Limbi Blessing Tata, is a unique contribution to saving humanity,  especially given that many neighbouring communities depend on it for drinking water.

The Bulu water catchment is the main source of portable water to the Kombo, Bolifamba and Dibanda communities of the Buea Municipality.

With funds and mentorship from the SUGi Project and Afforestt, Ecological Balance had in March 2020 planted some 12 tree species at the Bulu water catchment in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon. These trees species included; Prunus Africana (pygeum), Entandrophragma angolensis (big leaf mahogany), Dacryodes edulis (African plum), Cordia platythistera (drummer stick) , (Persia americana) avocado, Artocarpus heterophyllus (jack fruit),  Mangifera indica (mango) , Erythrina spp, Jatropha curcas, Leuceana leucocephala, Acacia angiutissimma, and Pachira aquatic (money tree).

It is hoped that these trees will also allow for the gathering of non-timber forest products (spices, fruits, honey, nuts etc), serve as habitat for biodiversity and contribute in mitigating global climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

Pachira Aquatic Tree Planted at Catchment in Buea Demonstrates Strange Growth Pattern

One of the tree species, Pachira Aquatic, planted in March 2020 for the conservation of the Bulu water catchment in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon by Ecological Balance, is demonstrating a strange growth pattern. Seeds of the flora species were collected and planted at this watershed using the miyawaki technique of reforestation. Five months down the lane, an unusual increase in girth at the bottom of the stem and relatively little growth in height has been observed.

This strange growth pattern has made Cameroonian forest biodiversity conservation expert, Limbi Blessing Tata, who is also the Executive Director of Ecological Balance to cast doubt over its suitability in miyawaki forests in the equatorial type climate where conditions are hardly hostile. The Eco Balance boss also wonder if the dry season will be hostile enough for the tree to give up the food stored at the bottom of the stem.  “Nutrients are incorporated into soils of miyawaki forests, and the forests center mainly on increase in height and density. Does this mean that the pachira trees will become dwarfs?” the forest biodiversity expert ponders.

The origin of the Pachira aquatic tree species can be traced from the swamps of Central and South America and spread to other tropical forests. It is known to grow up to 23m in the wild. Indigenous knowledge points to the fact that the species stores up large amounts of food at the bottom of the stem in good conditions, hence the unusual increase in girth. It is thought to grow in height mainly in hostile conditions during which it is known to ‘give up’ its stored food.

The tree has been nicknamed “money tree” because it is believed to have the potential to bring great wealth to its owner, and the trunks are usually braided together to “lock in” luck and fortune. Though very unpopular in Cameroon, the tree is currently the most popular in Taiwan where it is believed to create “chi,” positive energy that brings luck in homes.

Tree propagation; ‘Cheating’ Trees, Saving Forests

Farmers in the Mambonko village in South West Cameroon have been encouraged to use mostly grafted and marcotted trees in their farmlands as it allows trees with poor rooting systems and good quality fruits to be combined with those of the same species that have good rooting systems for better yields.

Grafted bush mango tree

 

With grafting, you cut a tree from the middle area and replaces it with another upper part and then nurture. In the course of time, the two parts will attach nicely and begin communication. They must, however, have the same genes.  Marcotting on the other hand, ‘cheats’ trees by taking advantage of their memory cells. The branch of a two-year-old tree, for instance, is cut, rooting ignited at one end and then planted. The plant takes some time to adapt to this new condition (acclimatization) and then continues growing like a two-year-old. As such. many plants can be generated from one tree. This method reduces the fruiting time of trees by up to half depending on the age of the marcotted mother tree.

Marcotted Dacryodes edulis (African plums)

“The most sustainable promise for agroforestry, forest gardening or any profitable tree planting endeavour is tree propagation.  People need some form of incentive. It is not easy to plant trees that take up to 10 years to start producing fruits. Humans are not that patient,” said  Mr.  Shu Jerome as he distributed marcotted forest and fruit trees for planting into the Irvingia forest garden in Mambonko village in Cameroon.

The forest garden is composed of crops (maize, various vegetables, cassava, potatoes, plantain), forest trees (bush mango, njangsang), fruits trees (African plum, oranges, avocado and mango)  and animals (goats, pigs and fowls). The crops are planted  10m2  from each other and trees in order to minimize shading.

Animals, on the other hand, walk around the farm freely and their dung serves as manure. This farm will enable Ecological Balance train 25 women every 6months on how to incorporate indigenous trees into existing farmlands.

The rationale of this forest gardening practice is to combine crops, trees, and animals of different fruiting cycles, hence, enabling women to harvest all year round. This reduces their vulnerability to market prices as surpluses can be sold offseason. Forest garden also reduces dependence on forest for timber and other forest products, while also ensuring land optimization.

By Ndimuh B. Shancho

NGO leaders to Create More Forests Using ‘Miyawaki’ Method

Some five Founders and Chief Executive Officers of non-profit organizations in Switzerland, India, Australia, Pakistan, and Cameroon have discussed ways of successfully creating forests using the Miyawaki Method, an innovative technique that restores indigenous ecosystems and natural vegetations by practically forcing, reproducing and accelerating natural successional times.

NGO leaders in an online meeting

Meeting online, September 23, 2019, these NGO bosses including Elise Van Middelem of SUGI-Switzerland, Shubhendu Sharma of Afforest-India, Brett Krause of Brettacorp Inc.-Australia, Shahzad Qureshi of Urban Forest Karachi-Pakistan and Limbi Blessing of Eco Balance-Cameroon, learned the steps and process involved in using the Miyawaki Method.

While chairing the meeting Mr. Shubhendu Sharma shared his close to one decade experience in the Miyawaki method that has him create over 138 forests across the world and planted over 450,000 registering at least an 82% success rate in each case. He explained that the method has been proven to work worldwide, irrespective of soil and climatic conditions with over 3,000 forests already created around the world using it.

On the uniqueness of this method, the Afforest boss said it “creates forests that are 30times denser, grow 10times faster, recharge groundwater 30times faster, are 30times better habitat for pollinators, have 30 times better carbon-dioxide absorption capacity and conserve soil properties 30times better than monocultures”. He added that “they are 100% natural and designed to mimic historical indigenous forests and hence, are 100% as bio-diverse; they are completely maintenance-free”. Additionally, as a matter of protocol, the method involves local communities and people of all age groups in tree planting.

According to the Crowther Lab (Zurich), about 0.9 billion hectares of land across the world should be reforested to capture two thirds (about 205 billion tonnes) of human-made carbon emissions.

Inspired by this training, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, Limbi Blessing Tata, has committed to the regeneration of forests in Cameroon, with a 20,000 capacity tree nursery already established in Buea, South West Cameroon, in collaboration with community leaders. The importance of effective forest regeneration in Cameroon cannot be overemphasized given that Cameroon is part of the Congo Basin and losses up to 30ha of forest every hour.

By Ndimuh B. Shancho

 

Eco balance Embarks on Radio Sensitization for Natural Resources Conservation

Eco balance is running a series on radios in the South West Region of Cameroon dubbed ‘wa forest, wa money’ meaning our forests, our ATMs. The programme, which comes up Mondays and Fridays on environment slots on Bonakanda & Tiko Council Community radios, started in September to run till October 18.

Radio sensitisation

Organised within the framework of the Irvingia Project, the radio series is aimed at raising the awareness of about 50% of the local population around the Mt Cameroon National Park. It highlights the importance and richness of Cameroon’s forests, especially in terms of non-timber forest products with the goal of bringing local people to perceive forests as ATMs, capable of providing money all year round in the form of spices, fruits, nuts, medicinal herbs etc. It is hoped that through this radio programme,  rural women will increase the market value of forest products by processing them and youths will take the responsibility to protect the forests, their heritage.

Inspired by the impact of the radio series, the Station Manager of Tiko Council Community Radio, Mr. Ngong Ivo, expressed his wish for a long term partnership with the project. “I am glad that an initiative like this is coming to Tiko. It directly speaks to people who want ‘hot money’ and cut trees for it. Tiko also has mangroves and a program like this can help change people’s attitudes towards them and save us the stress of floods,” he said.

The Executive Director of Eco Balance said they hope to extend the series to Revival, Ocean City, and Mediafrique radios, all in Fako Division.

It should be noted that Cameroon has over 710 different species of such products and the market value of 45 stands at over US$1.028 billion annually.

 

Rural Woman Reaps Fruit of Eco Balance’s Empowerment Workshop

Less than two months after a week-long hands-on skills-based training by Ecological Balance aimed at combating youth unemployment and poverty for natural resources conservation, some rural women within the Buea Municipality are already reaping much profit using the skills acquired.

Mrs. Atang Mary transforming coconut to coconut oil

A Bomaka-based rural woman, Atang Mary Nyong, earns at least fcfa 60,000 as profit in less than a month from coconut oil, a skill acquired during a workshop organized last September by Ecological Balance. “I was amazed by the analysis done on the business during the workshop. Immediately after the training, I decided to try my hands in the processing and selling of coconut oil; I invested my life’s savings into the business. In 3weeks or so, I have made 60000frs (about 101 USD) profit. It is official, I am an entrepreneur,” she said.

Instead of selling 80 coconuts for fcfa 10000 (about 17USD), she extracts 3litres of coconut oil and sells for fcfa 45000 (about 76 USD). The cost of raw materials, packaging and labour comes down to about fcfa 25000 (about 41USD). Thus she makes a profit of fcfa 20000 (about 35USD) per consignment.

She said processing coconut oil is an uphill task. “My biggest challenge is in the processing of the oil. Everything is manual from cracking coconuts,  removing the shell, slicing it into bits, to grinding, washing, and squeezing out the milk before letting it settle. The lack of equipment slows down the process, otherwise, it is a good business,” he said while hoping to employ an extra pair of hands soon.

Proceeds from the coconut oil business are helping her a great deal. “I am a shareholder in my home,” she quipped, adding that “my children had to relocate to Yaounde for school and I was able to support with fcfa 50000. I am so happy. I also have a small njangi (daily collection), where I save money for the future”

Mary wants to expand to the processing of other oils from forest seeds and nuts; bush mango oil, njangsang oil, njabe oil and kernel oil in the near future.

 By Agborkang Godfred

 

“I Love Creating Nature Inspired Arts”

I am Seraphine-Destiny Lum Ngwa,  a student in Buea, Cameroon and 20 years old.  Growing up was not easy but I have d always found solace in nature. I use to spend hours at the stream near our house watching birds and sometimes fish. Then, everywhere was green; there were a lot of trees and the waters were sparkling. We could even bend on our knees and drink directly from the stream.  Today, everything is gone. The trees and stream exist only in my memory and I refuse to let go. Hence, I have decided to paint pictures of them.  I started painting when I was 18. I use these paintings to hide my fear as I struggle through life.

My desire is to create nature-inspired art pieces. I want to be a great Environmental Artist, having my own studio and running an art school. I think many people desire to paint but are just scared.

Destiny’s nature artwork

Eco Balance to Partner with NGO, FMCs for Forests Creation in Fako

Ecological Balance is set to partner with some four community water and forest management committees and a non-profit organization for the creation of forests of at least 5600trees in close to 2ha in Fako Division, South West Cameroon, using the Miyawaki method.

The Miyawaki technique is an innovative reforestation method, which restores indigenous ecosystems and natural vegetation by practically forcing, reproducing and accelerating natural successional times. The method has been proven to work worldwide, irrespective of soil and climatic conditions and more than 3,000 forests have been successfully created around the world.

In August 2019, as a build-up to the global climate strikes, Eco Balance undertook the commitment to plant at least 5000trees every year. These trees, which are to be planted as closed forest blocks, seeks to contribute towards climate change mitigation as well as train help community forests fulfill their reforestation objective.

So far, the organization has had a series of meetings in September with WEWULEY Consultancy with headquarters in Bova 1 village, Lyangamelle Bonalyonga & Upper Bwando village water management committees and the Bakingili & Woteva Community Forests, with roles in the implementation of the project, spelled out.

WEWULEY Consultancy, for example, is to serve in community mobilization and monitoring while Lyangamelle Bonalyonga and Upper Bwando village water management committees provide nursery and planting sites. They are also expected to provide after-care for planted forests in their localities. Meanwhile, Bakingili and Woteva Community forests, led by their management officers, will provide nursery and planting sites as well as aftercare for planted forests. Eco balance, on the other hand, will serve as the resource mobilizer and provider of technical services.

According to the Founder/Director of WEWULEY Consultancy, this project is a stitch on time that would definitely save lives. “I can tell you that without trees we are nothing. Today, we suffer from a severe water shortage in my village, Bova 1. We buy water because our sources have all dried up’. ‘We cannot even sustain the cost of running a community tree nursery in Bova,” he lamented.

By Limbi Blessing