Few years ago, the Agency for Development and Poverty Alleviation (ADPA) did a survey in the Gola Forest Community to explore the impact of upland farming on the environment. We found that farming communities cut down trees, burn bushes, and engaged in activities that caused deforestation and land degradation.
To protect the land we introduced the inland valley swamp farming to help communities increase their food production, and to minimize land degradation and deforestation. This is the idea that got us the funding from the UNDP Sierra Leone GEF Small Grants Program.
The beneficiaries of the grant are the inhabitants of these communities of whom the majority are women and youth. We focus on the women because most of them are single mothers, lactating mothers, or widows. If we improve their income level then we can raise their family’s standard of living.
One hundred and fifty women in the three communities have been formed into a cooperative. We give them seeds, fruit trees, and tools. So far we have helped them plant rice. In the next phase, we will plant vegetables, which will improve their livelihood.
We work with community stakeholders; traditional leaders, the local district council, and the Ministry of Agriculture to construct bonds, inlets, and outlets. We also work with the chiefdom’s Agricultural Business Center to market the harvested products.
So from the lessons we’ve learned, I am encouraging every Sierra Leonean to change our attitudes or behaviors towards the environment so our lives will be free from environmental hazards. Our work is important because, on the one hand, we are teaching sustainable agricultural practices while at the same time protecting the environment.
My name is Gabriel Fatoma, I am the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency for Development and Poverty Alleviation (ADPA) in Kenema, Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. ADPA is a grantee of the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programs.
The Agency for Development and Poverty Alleviation supports our community in the Gola Forest axis. Before now, the majority of us have engaged in upland farming and in the end, the yield was not efficient, leaving us with stress and pain. Even providing food for ourselves was a major challenge. Also, as a community, some of the families were in a serious fight with each other and everyone was doing things of their interest.
But now with the intervention of this project in my life, things are far better than it was, even my physical looks will tell the difference. We’ve been taught inland valley swamp. It is better than the one we used to do before. Now with the inland valley swamp farming, we are having a better harvest. In a year we can now harvest two to three times and that has increased our income. Seeds and tools have also been supplied to us.
The best part is that my children are now able to go to school. I can take care of their bills (health, books, uniform, and fees.
Also, at a community level, the project has brought harmony into our homes. We work as a community with the same goal and in the end, it will be beneficial to all of us.
With the inland farming that we have learned, we are no longer putting our community at risk. We are preserving the environment for future generations.
My name is Watta Jaward, I am a farmer living in Ngeibu village, Tunkia Chiefdom, Kenema District. I’m a single mother of 6 children. Since my husband died, I provide for the children from the farm.
About GEF SGP
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offers grants to innovative, inclusive, and impactful projects that address global environmental and sustainable development issues.
Promotion of Inland Valley Swamp (IVS) Cultivation and planting of economic tree crops as an alternative and sustainable agricultural practices in two communities adjacent to Gola Forest National Park.
About GEF Small Grant Stories
The GEF Small Grants Stories series is made possible by a grant to VR&C Marketing Company to increase the visibility of the GEF Small Grants Programme in Sierra Leone through the production of blogs and digital media content on the successes of the programme.