Ecological Balance, in a bid to realise its vision, is engaged in a number of projects. They include;
The future of the world is only as bright as the skills and knowledge possessed by the next generation of girls. Unfortunately, the education of many girls in Cameroon (especially from forest-dependent communities) has been sacrificed on the altar of poverty and boy prioritization.
On the other hand, Cameroon is very rich in forest resources. In fact, forests in Cameroon are like a natural Automated Teller Machines (ATM), capable of providing cash all year round through forest spices, nuts, fruits, tannins, herbs etc. to Cameroonians, most especially rural women. In fact, the market value of 45 (out of over 710) of such non-timber forest products is estimated at US$1.028 billion annually.
Unfortunately, this gold mine is being lost to deforestation. Averagely, about 30ha of forest are lost in Cameroon per hour. While many see this as inducing climate change, to forest-dependent people, it is the loss of a permanent repository of wealth and long-standing savings deposit from many generations. Women, who are the main gatherers of these non-timber forest resources, currently make very little profit. This is because the quantities have greatly reduced (due to deforestation) and also because they are sold ‘raw’ or without any form of value-added to them. Whereas adding value/processing has the potential to increase profit margins by 150-400%.
The project Irvingia, (named after the bush mango; seeds of Irvingia spp, which is one of the most marketable forest products in Cameroon) works on a local people-centered, livelihood fueled forest conservation scheme that trains women to add value to/process forest products and hence generating substantial income. This to increase the probability of girls getting good education and to motivate these women and their families to protect the forest.
Sustainable Menstruation Project
There are several campaigns going on in Cameroon on menstruation that ends up in the distribution of non-reusable and non-biodegradable pads to women of menstruation age. We, however, believe that every woman should take responsibility for their menstrual waste; a woman in her menstruation lifetime generates up to 150kg of disposable sanitary waste and most often, they are disposed of in plastic bags. One disposable pad takes up to 800years to decompose in landfill. Again, burning them releases dioxins and furans, some of the most deadly toxins known to science into the atmosphere.
This project thus promotes the use of more sustainable menstruation options like biodegradable pads, reusable cloth pads, and menstrual cups.
Youth Entrepreneurship skill development Project
Averagely, about 30ha of forest are lost in Cameroon per hour. While many see this as inducing climate change, to forest-dependent people, it is the loss of a permanent repository of wealth and long-standing savings deposit from many generations. One of the main drivers of deforestation in Cameroon is youth unemployment; unemployed youths turn to unsustainable use of forest resources.
This project gives youths the skills necessary to begin and run businesses that require little seed capital.
School Conservation challenge (Play-Practice-Pitch)
This is an inter-school competition that begins with a period of mentorship during which school children get knowledge and skills on Forest Biology, Pollution Chemistry, Clean Energy Physics and Business Mathematics in a fun way (through games, cartoon shows, comic books, rhymes, music etc ).
After the mentorship period, they are expected to use the knowledge and skills to serve nature (regenerate forest landscapes, clean of water bodies, plant trees at water catchments, develop a solid waste management scheme for their school, generate clean energy, develop a business model for the green businesses etc – Practice). These will be presented before a panel (skills in public speaking etc -Pitch), points allocated and prizes awarded.
Building resilience to coastal flooding in the Cameroon Coastal Mangrove Forest Zone
Climate-driven disasters have emerged as the most glaring environmental outcome of climate change in recent decades, with floods being the most disastrous, frequent and widespread. The global rise in sea level has contributed to increased coastal inundation, erosion and ecosystem losses. Coastal vulnerability to flooding is further exacerbated by the degradation of mangrove forests which serve as natural barriers.
Every day, about 7ha of mangrove forest are cut to meet timber and fuelwood demands in Cameroon. Besides the provisional, protection, carbon sequestration and biodiversity importance of Cameroon’s mangroves, mangrove deforestation impairs the inherent resilience of the coastal environment and renders it vulnerable to coastal flooding. Cameroon coastal populations are particularly vulnerable to floods as they are located at strips at averagely 1000m from the shoreline.
To this effect, we set out in 2017/2018 to Bekumu, Mabetta, Njagassa and Mbomo, all situated along the coast of South West Region of Cameroon with 2 main objectives;
- To raise awareness on the importance of mangroves and especially increase knowledge on the link and impact of human activities on the mangrove ecosystem
- To impact flood resilient knowledge & skills on locals and support community flood mitigation/adaptation initiatives.
Activities included the sensitization of the masses during the mangrove advocacy week that will coincide with the youth week running up to the celebration of the National Youth Day. Activities during this week will include workshops, games, inter-school competitions (quizzes, dramas, poems, paintings, match pasts, wildlife arts), talks on mangrove conservation and flood management.
This was followed up by the creation of school and community Eco-clubs and educative talks on the early signs of floods, flood preparedness, adaptative and mitigation measures. Adaptative measures will include house reinforcement, construction of local embankments, etc.
There were participatory production and validation of flood management plans per village. Flood management plans were very visual and included restricted areas for settlement and emergency response strategies.
The major impact of the project would be the fact that the people understood that every one of us (especially the mangrove user groups) contributed to the mangrove degradation and climate change. This stemmed from the desire to erode the prejudice that climate change is caused and should be resolved by the west (#stop the blame game). They also understood that the quantity and quality of fish harvest (main source of livelihood) is a function of mangrove health.
Mangroves for tomorrow Project
One of the objectives of the ‘Building resilience to coastal flooding in the Cameroon Coastal Mangrove Forest Zone’ was to replant degraded areas of mangroves. To this effect, a 10000-capacity mangrove nursery was established in Mabeta. In 2018, a series of community reforestation campaigns were organized especially in flood-prone neighbourhoods. During this period over 15000 seedlings were planted.
The nursery also served as a training ground for lessons on nursery establishment and management for community members especially youths.
Rewilding of water catchments and landscapes: The Miyawaki method
This involves the raising and planting of native species into water catchments, community forests etc for the refurbishing of water table, biodiversity recovery and conservation, livelihoods etc.