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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Support to Green Wall for Sahara and Sahel Initiatives (GGWSSI); Gambia Component: Action against Desertification Project (AADP) 2017 Implementation Phase

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By Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang

The AAD project is an EU-ACP funded initiative in support of the implementation of the GGWSSI to tackle the integrated Sustainable Land Management (SLM) approach to combat desertification in the Regions of North Bank, North of Central River and Upper River. The project covers a total area of 589,000 ha of degraded land. Since its launching in May 2016, the project activities are being steadily implemented with the effective participation of stakeholders. The project is executed by FAO Gambia Office through Gambia government as implementing agent with the collaboration of four Implementing partners (IPs) namely: Department of Forestry, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, NACO and ADWAC on an implementation arrangement called “Letter of Agreement” signed between these institutions and FAO Gambia Office.

The general objective of the AADP is to improve production systems resilient to climate change for increased food security in the sub-Sahara. The strategic approach is to adopt best sustainable innovative practices, actions and measures that promote and provide support to integrated land management and water control systems.

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AADP offers a unique opportunity to effect significant changes in scaling up government’s investments to promote food security and combat poverty through both policy inputs and innovative grass-roots operations. Thus the project will contribute in creating the enabling environment and minimum required capacity to consolidate and/or improve good practices in agriculture, livestock, forestry, water resources, rural infrastructure and implementation of social protection initiatives at local level in favor of households vulnerable to climate risks.

The specific added value of the project is to combine governance, sustainable management of land and water, production insurance and social protection against climate change, in order to secure producers investment and improve local livelihoods. Another important added value is linked to the fact that the programme does not focus on short term aspects of dry lands development, but supports the adoption of a medium and long term and comprehensive approach to Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD), climate change adaptation and mitigation, loss of biodiversity and supporting a functional coordination centered on SLM.

Based on learning by doing approach, the project aims at applying lessons from best practices on SLM, climate resilience to development policies and practices and building its approach on on-going programmes.
During the period under review, the four implementing partners together with the project coordination unit were engaged in awareness raising and capacity building activities of the Project with the aim of informing relevant stakeholders of the project objectives, implementation arrangements (in the three (3) project regions (North Bank, Central River North and Upper River Regions) and five (5) district clusters) and in creating the enabling environment. The target audiences were Regional Technical Advisory Committees, Local Government Authorities, Forest Management Committees, Village Development Committees and Local Communities in the Project sites.
This has pave the way for the IPs to start implementation of tasks assigned to each institution.

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National Consulting (NACO)
NACO, an Implementing Partner (IP) in close collaboration with Regional Department of Forestry (DoF) field staff, had conducted a baseline surveys on legal status of Community Forests and Forest Parks under Co-management in the project sites. This has set way for putting into perspectives the status of existing community forests and Joint Forest Park Management within the project. The agency was also engaged in the establishment of three (3) Regional Sustainable Land Management (SLM) fora/Forums under the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) sub- group of the regional TACs and has trained 25 Forest Management Committees (FMCs) on Participatory Forest Management Concepts and approaches.


SLM Meeting in URR
The agency continues to provide services towards improved local institutions capacity building in Sustainable Forest Resource Management and community-based enterprise development on none-timber products (NTPs) in the three (3) target regions of the project:
· Provision of community outreach activities on Drought, Land Degradation and Desertification (DLDD) issues;
· Trained 50 PFM Committee members on Group Management and Strengthening;
· Trained CF committees and FBOs on development of Enterprise Development Plans (EDP). A total of fifteen (15) enterprise plans are developed so far in fifteen CF community villages;

· Conducted three SLM Forum meetings in Upper River, Central River and North Bank Regions;
· Facilitated the regional SLM platforms’ field trips to assess SLM activities in their respect regions;
· Facilitated the handing over of Thirty Nine (39) Community Forest Management Agreements (CFMAs) nation-wide with funding from Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) and AAD projects through Department of Forestry by Hon. Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources;
Agency for Development of Women and Children (ADWAC)

Over the period under review, ADWAC being another Implementing partner, was engaged in the production and distribution of Metallic Stoves called ”Nofflye Jeeg” to beneficiary communities in the three project regions. This effort consolidates and replicates the gains in the provision of th prototype widely distributed by ADWAC (during the implementation of the sustainable agricultural and environmental governance project -SAGE to rural communities in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau) which are accepted by the beneficiaries.


Constructed Improved stoves
The overall project target for this activity is 720 stoves for the entire 42 months of the project period. So far, one hundred and eighty (180) l stoves were produced and distributed to hundred and eighty house-holes. The rationale behind this programme is to reduce the use of fuel woods which will contribute in reducing the pressure on the forest resources for firewood collection in the surrounding areas and will reduced as well the time taken by women to prepare meals. The amount of household income spent on purchase of fuelwood for cooking and heating will also reduce by a significant amount (half) to address other household felt needs. This is referenced to studies conducted by ADWAC on fuelwood consumption and smoke emission in cooking conducted in 2013 in NBR, CRR-North, Southern part of Senegal (Cassamance) and Guinea-Bissau.


Department of Forestry (DoF)
The Department of Forestry being a major player (Government’s Focal Institution) in the implementation of this project, has over the period in collaboration with National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) conducted training for Community Forest and Joint Forest Park Committees members on seeds collection, preparation and handling in view of promoting village –based nursery establishment to increase tree planting of indigenous tree species on farm lands and open forest areas for improved Natural Forest Management and rehabilitation. This year the village- based nurseries provided 7,300 seedlings of different species for the CF restoration activities. The objective is also to create alternative livelihood through self- employment for the youth and women through the production and sales of tree seedlings at village level. Prior to the project start phase, 113 local tree species useful to communities in the intervention sites were identified under the support of GGWSSI land restoration program.

Participants at the training were selected within the project intervention communities in consultation with Forestry Department’s extension staff based on specific criteria. Such criteria include the participant being part of Community Forestry or Joint Forest Park management committee; participant to volunteer and be willing to carryout forestry activities and must have pre-knowledge of nursery practices. Thirty (30) participants were selected (9 female and 21 male) from fifteen village communities.
Furthermore, in support of the implementation of AAD project, the Department of Forestry and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a five –day training on biophysical baseline assessment using the Collect Earth Tool for 10 government personnel.


Patrick Bahal’okwibale, Lead Trainer with participants on Collect Earth
The capacity development exercise was meant to enable the Country Team to produce a baseline report that will highlight the status of drylands in the country and help to identify restoration spots.
The baseline will also serve as a basis for evidence-based decision making and for monitoring the impact of efforts to restore degraded lands and to improve ecosystems and communities resilience in drylands. Participants at the workshop were drawn from various institutions, including the Planning Service Unit, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Land and Surveys, the Gambia Bureau of Statistics, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management and the National Environment Agency.

In supporting the CF committees in implementing their management plans, the Department of Forestry facilitated the processes in the development and updating of Five year Forest Management Plans for five communities. During the same period, the department supported Twenty-five (25) community Forests Committees in completing their legal ownership transfer processes by submitting the relevant documents to Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources and Ministry of Justice for designation process.

The Department facilitated the review for updating the ANR Policy (2009-2015) through AAD and FFF projects’ funs in favour of SLM in collaboration with the National Environment Agency Through the recruitment of a lead consultant and six subject matter specialists in various areas within the natural resources sector, a supplementary NR Policy to the ANR Policy developed by Ministry of Agriculture is produced.
Awareness creation and action on combating desertification was popularised through radio programs in three community radio stations within the project intervention regions and one through the national radio.
Over the period the department continues to strengthen community-based sustainable land management through surveying and production of maps of nine (9) community managed forests.
Training on participatory forest management was conducted involving twenty-five (25) participants drawn from community forest managed communities from the districts of Sami and Niani. The training was meant to acquaint participants on the various sustainable forest resource management concepts.


Participants at the training
Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE)
Another key implementing partner is the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) engaged in implementing the following activities for the period under review:( identification of suitable agroforestry/woodlot sites in thirty (30) schools within the project intervention areas. The selection of schools based on established criteria (availability of land, evidence of community commitment, population and existence of established mothers’ school club) was done in collaboration with NEA and Forestry Department .


Participants at the training
Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE)
Another key implementing partner is the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) engaged in implementing the following activities for the period under review:( identification of suitable agroforestry/woodlot sites in thirty (30) schools within the project intervention areas. The selection of schools based on established criteria (availability of land, evidence of community commitment, population and existence of established mothers’ school club) was done in collaboration with NEA and Forestry Department .


Agro-forestry site for one of the 30 schools selected
MoBSE in promoting environmental green clubs in schools, has ventured in establishing and trained thirty school environmental clubs and members respectively on tree nursery development and management in collaboration with ADWAC and Department Forestry.


Training of school environmental club coordinators on the mechanism
The concept of using appropriate techniques and Farmer Field School is introduced in the thirty LBS in respect of promoting agroforest.


Farmer Field School Training
To consolidate the sector’s contribution in promoting environmental protection and management through the project’s support, MOBSE is in the process of developing a supplementary curriculum material for SES in the LBS.

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