There is an adage that says ‘consevartion cannot be done on an empty stomach”. That is to say for conservation to be successful, actors must try to provide alternative sources of livelihood to forest adjacent communities. It was against this thinking that ERuDeF instituted a program dubbed “Livelihood Support Project for Biodiversity Management”. This program seeks to build the capacity of forest adjacent communities through training, provision of sustainable livelihoods and microcredit support to both individuals and groups. The overall objective is to reduce pressure and over dependence on the forest for a living and to initiate small busineses forself sustainability.
In 2013, ERuDeF gave a series of livelihood support including piglets, beehives etc to the people of Ando in Lebang Fondom of the Lebialem Division, one of the villages adjacent to the proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary. A recent evaluation visit has shown that the donation has paid off.
Speaking about the effect of the donations, the leader of Ando, Chief Fondo Ajong said the donation of piglets has been very helpful to him and other villagers including Atem George Bezachong, Aminkeng Thaddeus, Kbumboh Julius Ntellah and Ngosang Aloys.
” Since I received the piglets, they have put to birth twice giving about 16 piglets and I have been able to make some money by selling these piglets. Thanks to the money I raised, I was able to pay the school fees of my children without stress and I now depend less on the forest”. The leader said the other beneficiaries equally have similar success stories.
Chief Fondo on behalf of the entire village pledged utmost support and collaboration of his village in the process of making the proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary a full protected site.
He equally appealled to ERuDeF through the livelihood team to diversify the livelihoods and introduce others such as Mushroom cultivation, donation of improved oil palm species, agriculture assistance with chemicals, fertilizers, goat keeping and poultry farming.
The workshop finally ended with all the participants promissing to engage in small business especially in Non Timber Forest Products in a sustainable manner while hoping for the assistance from ERuDeF.
Forbe Hodu and Njom Nji Ignatius