A. 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, with floods being the most disastrous, frequent and widespread. Coastal vulnerability to flooding is exacerbated by the degradation of mangrove forests which serve as natural barriers.
High rates of mangrove forest degradation (8.28 percent hectares/year) in Cameroon as driven by fuel wood collection has greatly provoked Accelerated Sea Level Rise. Deforestation has also impaired the inherent resilience of the coastal environment and rendered it vulnerable to coastal flooding. Coastal communities have been greatly affected by these recurring floods.
Awareness: We ride on the negative emotions of floods to raise awareness on mangrove conservation.
Livelihoods: We also have use sustainable livelihoods as a tool for grass root level mangrove forest restoration.
Engagement: Involve local people in mangrove restoration activities
This project is named Irvingia after the bush mango; seeds of Irvingia spp because it is one of the most important (in terms of abundance and market value) forest products in Cameroon.
Deforestation is a global environmental problem but for forest dependent communities it is much more. It is also a loss of their cultural heritage, leads to a reduction in family incomes which leads to a battery of other social problems including limited access to education for girls.
- Livelihoods: Irvingia trains 50 mothers between the ages of 16-45 every year on how to grow, sustainably harvest, add value to or process and market non-timber forest products. It is time to start growing forest products because we cannot depend on wild sources forever and in adding value, the shelf life increases so that the women can save them and sell at higher prices when they are out of season. Also, through processing, the price increases five to 10 folds. For example we can convert herbs to face creams, fruits to jams and jellies, barks to medicine and nuts to nut bars.
Why women and specifically mothers? Unlike men, who bring only up to 50% of their incomes home, women bring everything they earn. Thus a reduction in women’s earnings means poverty for the entire family. Also, to increase the income of mothers so they can finance their daughters’ education
2. Awareness and engagement: We use documentaries, exhibitions, theatre, forest walks, bird watching to make local people aware of their environment. We also link them with stakeholders to foster community actions against deforestation
3. For posterity: The Irvingia Race; Play, Practice, Pitch: The future of every community lies in the hands of its youth and young people learn most through games. We have therefore designed a game that enables youths to learn about the forest in a fun way (play). They also get to practice what they have learned and during inter-village competitions they present (pitch) their products and ideas before a jury and win prizes. Prizes; scholarships, seed money for green business.
C. Mangroves for tomorrow
Every day, about 7ha of mangroves are cut in Cameroon. About 150,000tonnes of fish is smoke annually in the coast of Cameroon and the quantity of mangrove wood used for this has been identified both locally and at the Regional level as a major threat to mangroves. The suppliers (locally called ‘matanda warriors’) have been implicated in the cutting of at least 200,000 trees resulting in the destruction of about 1000 ha of mangrove forest annually in the Douala Estuary alone. Households in Cameroon consume at least 20,000,000m3 of fuelwood annually, 65% in Douala, the economic capital, 85% of which comes from mangroves.
Community mangrove nurseries: We train and establish community nurseries that enable community planting of mangroves into flood prone and degraded areas.
Livelihood training for ‘matanda warriors’: In parnership with Weye Clean Energy Company Uganda, we are looking at traing youths to produce fuel briquettes to replace fuel wood.