Communities can sustainable manage of natural resources when they sure to obtain economic benefits from it. The Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) initiative of the Wildlife Division of Ghana provides forest fringe communities the opportunity to be active stakeholders towards forest governance and be able to benefit from it through additional livelihood schemes. The Enhancing Natural Forest and Agro-forest Project (ENFALP) of the Ghana Forest Investment Project (GFIP), seeks to support CREMA communities to receive economic benefits whiles managing natural resources in off-reserves.
Most CREMA communities are cocoa farmers with little to no activities during the lean cocoa season. Hence, their active involvement in livelihood ventures is critical to improving their lives and incomes as well as the successful development and implementation of the scheme. Community’s interest and concerns towards the identification and potential benefits of the scheme cannot be overlooked. For this reason, a two-day workshop was held with the six (6) Community Resource Management Area (CRMC) of the Aowin CREMA to obtain the needed information on which livelihood ventures constituent(s) communities are interested in. This information is important since the implementation of livelihood schemes supported by beneficiary communities will have a direct negative impact of the success of the scheme.
This report therefore seeks to provide stakeholders the details of the two-day workshop that took place in November 2018 in Enchi.
To identify the preferred additional livelihood options for the Aowin CREMA.
The field team adopted a number of techniques to achieve the objective of the workshop. These are as follows;
- A local level meeting was held by the leadership of each of the six CRMCs prior to the workshop to inform communities and seek their inputs on the preferred additional livelihood for consideration in the livelihood plan.
- A two-day workshop was organized for the six CRMC under the Aowin CREMA in identifying and choosing their preferred livelihood venture. The workshop took the form of plenary discussions and group work.
A two-day workshop was held for the Aowin CREMA on 16th and 17th November, 2018 at the Conference Hall of the Forest Services Division (FSD), Enchi. The workshop brought together about 78 participants comprising 59 males and 17 females from the six CRMCs within the CREMA (Annex A). Mr. Mark Adu-Gyamfi, the District Manager of the FSD Enchi also participated in the workshop since FSD is one of the main implementing partners of the ENFAL Project. The workshop was facilitated by Mr. Charles Asante, the field Officer of Earth Service, Ms. Abigail Frimpong and Ms. Henrietta Asiedu of Conservation Alliance.
The workshop commenced with an opening prayer by Mr. Sampson Annor of Jensue CRMC and this was followed by the introduction of participants from all the six CRMC in the Aowin CREMA. Henrietta Asiedu of Conservation Alliance stated the purpose of the workshop which was the seek information on the preferred additional livelihood ventures of the Aowin CREMA. The workshop was also to obtain information of previous and existing additional livelihoods in the CREMA. The essence of this is to derive key lessons for the success or otherwise of the previous interventions so as to better the chances of the planned livelihood scheme to be successful.
Prior to the workshop, CRMC members were tasked to meet and inquire from their constituent communities their preferred livelihood option and present it at the workshop. The workshop therefore, provided all six (6) to CRMCs the opportunity present the processes undertaken to inform their respective communities on their preferred livelihood options as agreed by the entire community. Susan CRMC, Biakoye CRMC, Nkabom ma Ahooden CRMC, Motoso CRMC, Jensue and Nkosoo CRMC stated they had engaged all respective communities as well as Chiefs and Opinion leaders of the various communities through meetings and the use of Public Address (PA) systems. Annex B provides the list of communities engaged in each CRMC.
Participants were also asked about previous and existing additional livelihood ventures in the area and reported on three main interventions funded by International Non-Governmental Agencies. Susan CRMC and Nkabobon ma Ahoden CRMC mentioned tie and dye as one of the livelihood interventions introduced in the area but was unsuccessful largely due to lack of logistical support and less demand for it product. Biakoye, Jensue, Nkosoo and Motoso CRMC also reported on soap making which has been successful to an extent due the demand for it but was faced with the challenge of packaging to meet the international standard. The introduction of Fish farming was also unsuccessful as beneficiary starters refused to allow others to also benefit from the revolving funds. The absence of Veterinary services in the area and poor weather conditions collapsed piggery farming as the pigs were foreign and couldn’t withstand the harsh environmental conditions. Again, the collapse of previous livelihood shemes was due to Political interferences from some community members. Participants were advised to desist from partisan politics with regards to livelihood interventions as done in the past. Commodities produced from livelihood schemes also did not have existing market demand leading to its collapse.
Participants were of the view that, individuals are able to manage livelihood ventures more effectively as compared to groups. This is because individuals are able to own it and ensure it becomes successful. Group scheme possess a lot of challenges as roles are not properly defined and activities are not monitored. Therefore, individuals should be selected as beneficiaries of the livelihood scheme but with strict oversight/monitoring from CREMA members to ensure its success.
At the meeting, participants also shared that, there is less activities between the main cocoa season and the light lean cocoa season. During this period, most women are seen to cultivate and sell maize to feed their families whiles others engage in petty trading. The level of borrowing from financial institutions and “cocoa krakyie” is also high amongst cocoa farmers as they need money to be able to provide for their families. From the discussion, it is obvious that the lean season brings a lot of hardship to cocoa farmers. This compels them to undertake illegal activities in the forest such as logging of trees and sand winning.
Participants were grouped into the six CRMCs and tasked to list the various livelihood ventures as agreed in their community meetings that took place before the workshop. Presentations were made by each CRMC after the group work. Several livelihood options including, tree nurseries, rabbit rearing, grass cutter rearing, bee keeping, mushroom farming, soap making, plantain nurseries among others were listed.
Table 1: The table below shows the various additional livelihood ventures presented by the six CRMCs.
In a plenary discussion the participants were engaged to rank the first five (5) preferred livelihood options and the list included;
- Bee keeping
- Soap making
- Snail farming
- Poultry farming
- Sheep farming
Participants also shared their reasons for selecting each of the five livelihood options and that included;
Beekeeping: Participants selected Beekeeping as the first additional livelihood venture as they claimed is less labour intensive as well as a lucrative business. It also has a lot of economic and there is high market demand for it. The honey is both food and has medicinal uses thus it is well sought after. Although it is practiced by a few people, its wide production within the landscape would be very beneficial to communities and be able to meet market demand.
Soap Making: According to participants, soap is a daily use and there is high demand for it. The ingredients needed for its production is easy to find and available on the market. It is also an existing enterprise within the area and most women have benefited from it. To upscale this venture, training on soap packaging is important to attract more customers.
Snail Farming: Snail rearing was named the third preferred livelihood option. This was because the participants believed snail hunting is a major cause of unauthorised entry into protected forest areas which further leads to illegal hunting of wild animals. Hence, when farmers are able to rear snail in their homes and on their farms there could be a significant reduction in illegal hunting in the CREMA.
Poultry farming: Participants selected Poultry farming as the fourth preferred livelihood option. This is because there is local market for poultry farming in the area and it is also an existing venture in the area. Market demand is high and its up-scale is important to communities.
Sheep Rearing: Participants mentioned sheep rearing as a common activity in the area with high demand market. Although those engaged in it do it subsistence basis, there is high interest and can be up-scaled to meet the demand gaps.
Participants suggested that, constant monitoring is critical to the success of any livelihood intervention in the area. Although, the selected livelihood ventures are realistic and achievable, the project implementers can also advice based on what will help improve their lives and community.
Criteria for Selecting Beneficiaries of Livelihood Scheme:
- A CREMA core member in good standing.
- A committed person.
- There should be a waiting period (time bound) before one can be selected as a beneficiary.
- A member that one can attest to his good works
- A person who is stationed in the area and shares his or her benefits with community members.
- CREMA members should monitor beneficiaries carefully to ensure accountability.
- The beneficiary should be informed and made aware of his contribution towards the CREMA.
The lessons learnt during the workshop are as follows;
- Both men and women can manage livelihood ventures but women are better managers compared men.
- Commodities produced from additional livelihood ventures should have proper packaging to attract more customers both internally and externally. For instance; nicely packaged soaps can attract customers outside of the country thereby increasing client base for the product.
- There is better management of any livelihood venture when given out to individuals than groups. This is due to the high level of ownership ascribed to the livelihood activity by individuals.
- Management of livelihood venture by groups requires well defined roles and frequent monitoring to ensure that beneficiaries stay committed to the objective of the intervention.
CREMA members have shown a great deal of interest about the potential of the additional livelihood support scheme to improve their income levels during the lean cocoa season and reduce unsustainable utilization of natural resources. Continual engagement with the CREMA communities to sensitize them on the need to treat the livelihood scheme with all seriousness is critical to ensure its success.
- It is recommended that, the commodity produced from the selected livelihood venture should have market demand within and outside the landscape and even outside the country to ensure sustainability.
- Institutions that work on the Additional Livelihood Support Scheme build the capacities of beneficiaries on product design and packaging.
- Facilitate the implementation of the Additional Livelihood Support Scheme in the Aowin District CREMA.
- Undertake periodic monitoring of the activities of beneficiaries of the scheme.