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Rural Energy Activating Livelihoods

Update on REAL Project

As on Monday 2nd March, EFA and partners FAO have taken the first steps towards formally restarting implementation of the REAL project. The project implementation was suspended in August 2014, due to the national medical emergency cause by the spread of the Ebola virus disease.

From 9th March, EFA and FAO staff will be visiting all of the project beneficiary communities in Kailahun, Kenema, Kono and Pujehun Districts, to re-establish contact with the various project management committees and assess the status of where electrical installations were already done, in preparation for the installation of solar equipment.

The visits / assessments are schedule to be completed by end of March, following which the installation of solar equipment will commence.
EFA and FAO are fully aware that Sierra Leone has not yet achieved the expected zero caseload of people infected by the Ebola virus, but remain confident that the preventive measures currently in place, will ensure safe movement of personnel in the field, as plans advance to relaunch the project full scale by early April 2015. 

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News

Letter from the Boards of Trustees of EFA and the Management of EFA

   2nd March 2015.

 

 

Dear Supporters of EFA,

As you may be aware, impressive headway has been made recently in controlling the spread of the Ebola virus in the three most affected countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. While the epidemiological crisis is not over, and now is not the time for complacency, the worst appears to have passed and the three countries are in a good position to stamp out the virus within the coming months.

EFA’s Ebola Crisis Appeal raised about US$5000, which was used for emergency food supplies for communities surrounding the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, to encourage them not to turn to hunting, farming and mining of the Sanctuary for their immediate needs. This support was received with extreme gratitude. Knowing that EFA and its supporters were thinking of the communities and the Sanctuary’s staff was inspirational to them as they survived those dark months.

Looking broadly, notwithstanding the many thousands of deaths and social trauma caused by the Ebola virus, the challenge at hand is to prepare and execute plans for the countries to recover from the crisis. The effects of the crisis on the nations’ economies, food security and social fabric have been profound. Private sector activity has dramatically decreased with some major companies declaring bankruptcy and many more curtailing operations. Food production in the last year was limited, in particular in Sierra Leone, because of the restrictions on mobility, curfews and difficulty in obtaining agricultural inputs. The deficiencies in the national health care systems of the three countries became painfully clear, as did the difficulties in coordinating and delivering international support for the Ebola response.

National governments, aid agencies, development banks, international and national NGOs and other partners are busy planning post-Ebola recovery. While their focus is understandably on stimulating immediate, short-term growth, and on preparing to contain the next epidemic rapidly, EFA believes that the crisis provides perspective on how to pursue economic development differently. If we return to business-as-usual, should we expect anything other than more-of-the-same?

EFA’s perspective is different: we believe that the Ebola virus crisis is a symptom of a development model that needs critical reconsideration. This model of economic development requires never-ending growth in production and consumption to lift the target countries out of poverty. While ending poverty is a lofty objective and undeniably good, the means proposed to achieve it in countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are mainly to continue expanding production of raw materials like raw ores and other minerals, timber, palm oil and rubber. These are usually produced in the rural, forested ‘frontier’ areas of the countries, causing deforestation or forest fragmentation. In such contexts, humans and wildlife more frequently come into contact.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a zoonotic disease, transmitted from wildlife to humans. Many diseases affecting humans today were transmitted from a wildlife reservoir, a species in which it has little or no deleterious effect but is nevertheless transmitted from generation to generation. However when it jumps from the host animal to humans, for example when a person comes into contact with bodily fluids or aerosol particles from an infected animal, the disease can be lethal.

A development model that promotes bringing people into contact with forest-dwelling, or forest-edge-dwelling wildlife, is like playing Russian roulette: every time another chance for zoonosis – transmission of a disease from an animal to humans – occurs, the revolver’s trigger is pulled again.

EFA calls on the Governments and all development partners in Sierra Leone and West Africa, as they plan post-Ebola recovery, to integrate natural resources management fully into development plans and economic activities, whether for small-scale local production, industrial production, infrastructure development, or anything else. Development options need to be appraised in terms of what impact they could have on increasing the risk of zoonosis. Impacts on ‘natural capital depreciation’ need to be evaluated, that is, does an activity reduce a country’s natural resources which produce valuable but frequently ‘unvalued’ good and services like watershed protection, soil protection and regeneration, medicines, foods/food security, carbon storage and more?  Some projects may appear to deliver solid returns in terms of revenues or jobs generated, but if they involve the loss or fragmentation of ecosystems and wildlife habitat, they may in fact be quite destructive of natural capital, undermine ecosystem services and increase risks like zoonosis. In that light they do not look so attractive.

EFA has partnered with the ERM Foundation of Environmental Resources Management Ltd. to research the links between deforestation/forest fragmentation in West Africa and zoonotic episodes. This will form the basis of an awareness campaign to be undertaken starting in late March and the second trimester of 2015, targeting the planning and execution of economic recovery for EVD-affected countries.

While the needs of communities surrounding Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, and other forest-edge communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, remain great and urgent, economic recovery takes time and depends on many actors. EFA will do its best to assist the communities where it operates with both humanitarian aid and development assistance in the coming year.  However EFA’s most strategic way to support Tiwai Island, and the wider national and regional contexts, will be to lobby that the recovery and development plans adopted for post-EVD recovery do not repeat the unintended consequences that contributed to the spread of the disease and many other zoonotic crises.

On behalf of the Boards of Trustees of EFA and of the Management of EFA, we wish to thank all of those who have supported us through these difficult times, and ask that you continue your support as we embark on our new, strategic campaign.  Thanks to the ERM Foundation, the costs will not be large:  travel and subsistence costs for EFA personnel conducting workshops, education and outreach, media and small-scale publishing costs, and other miscellanea.  Please continue to help EFA generously!

Jamison Suter

Chairman

Boards of Trustees, EFA UK and Ireland

And

Tommy Garnett

Director of Regional Programmes

EFA Sierra Leone

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Biodiversity Learning Centre,News

Holiday Greetings and a Thank You!

Dear Friends and Colleagues

It is that time of the year when we wind down from our busy work and travel schedules and prepare to join our friends and families to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. It is also that time when we reflect on the happenings and lessons of the past year, and think about its challenges and opportunities, and prepare to welcome another year. 2014 will forever be memorable in the hearts and minds of the people of West Africa, for reasons that we know only too well.

For EFA, it has been a year of mixed blessings. We made very good progress completing a number of multi-year projects, such as the construction of Biodiversity and Renewable Energy Learning Centre, formally opened in June. It is also the first time since 2001, when we started work with the people of  Tiwai Island, that there will be no visitors to the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. All tourism activities on the Island were suspended in July, following the declaration of a national medical emergency by the President of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, resulting from the spread of the Ebola virus disease. Since then, the most pressing issue for EFA and its many friends around the world has been how to respond to the immediate needs of EVD-affected, quarantined communities.

Thanks to the generous contributions of time and money by many from across the globe, EFA was able to demonstrate to our staff on-the-ground and the nearly four thousand people around the Tiwai Island, that we care about their welfare. We are profoundly grateful for your continued support, which has given us much needed inspiration and courage during very trying times in West Africa where thousands have died, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The livelihoods, economies and local traditions of the people of these countries have been adversely impacted in so many ways. We convey our deepest sympathies to all those who have lost, and continue to lose family members to the disease. We sincerely hope that the efforts of the affected countries’ governments and their international partners will ensure the Ebola virus is brought under control in the very near future. We stand ready to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so, using EFA’s existing and future projects and resources to rebuild the livelihoods and protect the natural resources of communities affected by the disease. We shall keep you all informed.

For now, we wish you all good health and very safe and travels during this holiday period.
Peace and Blessings to you all.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
From Tommy Garnett and the EFA Family

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Uncategorised

Please Support Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Please Support TiwaiAs the death toll from the Ebola virus continues to rise, the livelihoods of the people in afflicted areas are severely affected too. In Sierra Leone, tourism is a key part of the economy. In some areas, communities depend almost entirely on revenues generated from tourism which are shared for their local development. However the Ebola virus crisis has halted all tourism and with this, communities dependent on it are in a desperate situation.

Since 2000, the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) and its partners have supported community-led ecotourism at Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. This area is in the epicentre of the Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, and the crisis has resulted in a complete collapse of tourism, cutting off communities from a major source of daily livelihood. There is no way of predicting when this situation will improve.

After one and a half decades of successful community engagement to protect Tiwai Island, EFA seeks to support the 3000 people in the immediate vicinity of the Wildlife Sanctuary by delivering vital supplies of food and other essentials. Without our help, they could hunt the island’s spectacular wildlife and cut the forest to plant crops just to survive. With our help, they will see that conservation supports them and the outside world cares.

Please help us to support the people and wildlife of Tiwai Island and continue biodiversity conservation in Sierra Leone, by donating to Justgiving For more information, please visit the Tiwai Island website at www.tiwaiisland.org.

Donate with JustGiving

Thank you very much.

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Events

Natural Resource Management Contact Group Meeting 11.04.2014

On 11.04.2014, the Natural Resources Management Contact Group met again to discuss topics surrounding natural resources. The meetings were starting for two reasons;

  1. To provide the GoSL, private sector, civil society, donors and implementing partners a venue for sharing information on their existing and planned programs.
  2. To develop the capacity needed to advocate effectively for natural resources management priorities at the national level.

This meeting consisted of representatives from Welthungerhilfe (WHH), the EU, the Environmental Foundation for Africa, STEWARD, the World Bank, university students and any interested parties. The meetings allow for various people to present on projects they are involved in, current natural resource issues in Sierra Leone and discuss any pertinent issues surrounding the predetermined themes of the meetings. In this meeting five different presentations were conducted, surrounding water, the Western Area Peninsula Forest, the mineral extraction industry and an EFA update on the Biodiversity and Renewable Energy Learning Centre.

The first presentation was on the highlights from the World Water Day Celebrations by Mr. Kofi Panyin Yarboi (STEWARD). The highlights included the issue of uneven water distribution around Sierra Leone, the need for better maintenance of water infrastructure and the use of small grants to improve water access and the maintenance of those sources. Providing a long term and regular supply of water to all Sierra Leoneans must be a target for government and the civil sector.

Mr. Kofi Panyin Yarboi also noted that STEWARD has been focusing on the relationship between watershed management, forests and a clean supply of water. Thus a focus on land management and conservation of forests has been high on their agenda in the region. In addition Mr. Yarboi, emphasized the need for more GIS mapping to be conducted in the region and the need for more collaboration on this front to address the many environmental issues facing the region.

Continuing the meeting was EFA’s own, education officer, Aminata Bundu. She updated the group on the progress of the Biodiversity and Renewable Energy Learning Centre (BRELC) in Sussex along the peninsula. The centre will open June 2014 and will provide a state of the art facility, providing exhibitions, workshops, a school educational programme and practical tours of the centre to inform the various visitors of the centre on topics such as environmental sustainability, renewable energy, biodiversity and natural resource management.

Jochen Morninger (WHH) then proceeded to provide an update on the WAPFoR project post completion. The project was implemented to protect the forest around the Western Peninsula, because of its value to the area through the provision of water, biodiversity and its value through ecosystem services to local population. Forest guards have been trained and patrols now run to make sure the boundaries of the forest are respected. Many communities now also have alternative livelihood activities, which will decrease anthropogenic pressures on the forest for resources. The forest has also slightly increased in size since the protection of the forest began.

The next area of discussion was the World Bank’s report on the Political Economy of Extractives Governance in Sierra Leone, which Chris Gabelle one of the authors presented. The report is the most in depth analysis of the extractives industry in Sierra Leone yet. The report draws on the history of the extractives industry in Sierra Leone and the modern day situation. The report prompted lots of discussion around the issue of the mining sector, equitable growth and community development projects.

Lastly, Adolfo Alonso Cires (Program Manager for Rural Development, Food Security and the Environment) presented the latest EU project, the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and land Degradation) capacity building project in Sierra Leone. The project will strengthen the forestry division in Sierra Leone to improve forest protection, map the forested area in Sierra Leone to better analyze the current status and future changes and to raise awareness of climate change and environmental degradation around the country. The project is aiming to instil a culture of forest preservation among communities through these awareness campaigns, to avoid continued deforestation in Sierra Leone.

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Events

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil National Interpretation (RSPO NI)

 

The Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) in collaboration with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) will be organise   an awareness raising and public consultation meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil National Interpretation (RSPO NI) process in Sierra Leone on Wednesday October 30, 2013 at 8:30 am at Taia Resort, Freetown.

The overall goal of the RSPO is to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil and to make RSPO certification available in Sierra Leone. RSPO defines sustainable palm oil production as legal, economically viable, environmentally appropriate, and socially beneficial. And to achieve it, it has defined a set of Principles & Criteria (P&C), Indicators, and Guidance Notes for the private sector to follow. This is achieved by undertaking a National Interpretation (process, which adapts RSPO P&Cs to the local context through a multi stakeholder working group and national level stakeholder consultations.

Consequently, the public consultation meeting will bring together key stakeholders in the oil palm industry and will provide an introduction to the RSPO, explain the next steps in the National Interpretation process and how stakeholders can participate as technical working group members. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss the key challenges and opportunities for sustainable palm oil in Sierra Leone.

 

 

 

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Events

Renewable Energy for Food Processing Project – RE4Food

Environmental Foundation Africa and Njala University are leading two of the four work packages of the multi-national RE4Food project. RE4Food is funded by the UK through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; as well as Sierra Leone there are partners in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa,Germany and the UK.

The aim of the project is to understand how better access and use of energy can reduce food losses. For example, in Sierra Leone at the hight of the mango season many go to waste because prices in the market are so low it is not worth gathering them plus many are damaged when they fall from tall trees or are “stoned” by young boys. Other losses are less visible but equally important. Rice, fish and palm oil are the fundamental elements of many meals in Sierra Leone, and all three require considerable amounts of energy to process them. The oft quoted figure is that it takes one ton of wood to smoke one ton of fish; however, this may be an underestimate of energy use!

 

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Events

The EFA and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

Critical Ecosystem Partnership FundEFA Logo

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which supports civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems, has had a long partnership with the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA). As part of CEPF’s initial five-year investment of $6.2 million in the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot, CEPF supported EFA beginning in 2002 with a grant for its project, “Reconstruction for Biodiversity Conservation, Research, and Ecotourism in the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sierra Leone.” The purpose of the project was to help Tiwai Island, which has remarkable biodiversity, and nearby communities recover from over a decade of war and neglect.

Completed in 2005, the project achievements included reconstruction of a visitor camp and research station and resumption of biological research on Tiwai Island, implementation of an environmental awareness program in schools and the eight surrounding communities, and training of local communities in nature conservation, domestic energy conservation and agro-forestry.

CEPF and EFA continued to work together after completion of the initial project, with CEPF supporting the following EFA projects:

Stimulating a Coordinated and Informed Approach to Biodiversity Conservation in Sierra Leone through Capacity Building of EFA and the Forum for Environmental Action  (July 2004 – March 2006)

Forum was established and recognized by government of Sierra Leone. The forum also has become a leading member of the Green Actors of West Africa Network involving 10 countries. The project also established an Environmental Information Resource Centre at the EFQ headquarters in Sierra Leone, and organized the first national conference to examine key priorities for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection as outline in the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan.

Ensuring Effective and Sustainable Management of the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sierra Leone, through the Establishment of the Tiwai Island Administrative Committee Secretariat February (2004 – July 2004)

The Secretariat was established to serve as the implementing agency of the Tiwai Island Administrative Committee, the entity responsible for managing the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary.

Assessing Five Years of CEPF Investment in the Guinean Forests of West Africa (January 2006 – April 2006)

EFA organized a workshop with CEPF grantees and other partners in the region to assess the results of CEPF investments and identify collective lessons learned.

In January 2009, the Environmental Foundation for Africa was awarded a consolidation grant from CEPF to secure the gains made possible by the first phase of CEPF funding by conducting further work in ecotourism and sustainable community development in and around the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Activities from this phase of funding included establishment of a Biodiversity and Alternative Energy Learning Center in Sierra Leone, and the construction of a range of buildings in Tiwai’s surrounding “host” communities, including schools, guest houses and community centers.

Tiwai Island now houses a camp where visitors can stay in tents, surrounded by an evergreen forest with the sounds of hornbills and monkeys calling from the canopies. Guided river tours offer an opportunity to view Tiwai and its surrounding islands from a canoe or motorboat, and more than 50 kilometers of trails allow visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s forests. Walking tours are led by local experts able to share information about the ecology, mythology and traditional cultural activities on and around Tiwai Island.

The consolidation grant, completed in June 2012, also resulted in:

  • Instruction to local community members on weaving, gara tie-dying, bamboo crafts and furniture making.
  • Memorandums of understanding signed with local communities to minimize possibilities for the illegal activities on Tiwai, especially hunting of monkey.
  • The collection of pictorial data and video footage for the production of video documentaries that will be used for awareness raising among a wide range of audiences, nationally and internationally.

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Events

Conservation strategy for the Guinean forests

CEPF_logo

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is preparing to embark on development of a new conservation strategy for the Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot. This strategy, called an ecosystem profile, will encompass all of the lowland forests of political West Africa, stretching from Guinea and Sierra Leone eastward to the Sanaga River in Cameroon. This includes the countries of Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria, which maintain remnant fragments of the forests. The hotspot also includes four islands in the Gulf of Guinea: Bioko and Annobon, which are both part of Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe, which together form an independent nation. Bioko is a continental shelf island, whereas the remaining three are oceanic.

An ecosystem profile consists of both a stakeholder-driven priority-setting process and a document based on current applied conservation science. The assignment is expected to begin in the last quarter of 2013 and should be largely complete within a year. The ecosystem profile team will consist of experts in the region’s terrestrial and marine conservation, sustainable development, and civil society who are capable of designing a conservation strategy for the hotspot, and a specific strategy for CEPF’s targeted multi-year investment in the region.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (www.cepf.net) is designed to help safeguard the world’s biodiversity hotspots. It is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Dévelopement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. More information on CEPF and examples of multiple ecosystem profiles from other biodiversity hotspots are available at the referenced website.

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Events

Renewable Energy Empowerment for Sierra Leone

Environmental Foundation for Africa is delighted to launch the first ever National Innovation Workshop and Public Exhibition of Renewable Energy (RE) technology in Sierra Leone. This event forms part of the Renewable Energy Empowerment for Sierra Leone (REESL) initiative and is being implemented in collaboration with our project partners and thanks to the support of the Ministry of Energy,

On the 18th and 19th of July, we are hosting a two-day, multi-stakeholder workshop to develop a National Roadmap to Energise Rural Sierra Leone. Workshop attendees will include approximately 50 representatives from relevant government ministries, academic institutions, non-governmental-organisations (NGOs), financial institutions and the private sector in Sierra Leone.  Following on from those workshops, we invite members of the public to join us at our Learning Centre to share and celebrate the outcomes of this highly-collaborative work and view an exciting exhibition of RE technology from all over Africa and further afield.

More details regarding the event are available here.

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