Sustainable natural resource management requires the extensive support of local fringe communities. It is therefore, important that interventions that seek to promote the sustainable use of natural resource adequately empower local communities. It is against this background that the Enhancing Natural Forests and Agro-forests Landscapes Component of the Ghana Forest Investment Program in the Western Region seeks to provide additional livelihood support to the Asuo Bia Nkyirima CREMA. Providing the CREMA communities with relevant skill and start up support will empower them to improve their livelihood and motivate them to support the sustainable resource management efforts of the CREMA.
Past interventions in the area of additional livelihood ventures has suffered significant levels of failures due to weak consultation with beneficiaries to ascertain which venture they are interested in. In ability to consult potential beneficiaries of the Livelihood Support Scheme of the GFIP, can result in a failure of the intervention. Hence, intensive consultations are critical to the success of the livelihood scheme.
In this regard, a two-day workshop was organised for the Asuo Bia Nkyirima CREMA at New Papaase. This report provides details of the outcome of the two day workshop.
The main objective for the two-day workshop was to consult with the CREMA and identify their preferred additional livelihood ventures.
In achieving the objectives of the workshop, the field implementation team lead by Abigail Frimpong adopted a number approaches. The approaches includes the following;
- A brief meeting was held with each of the eight CRMCs to inform them about GFIP’s additional livelihood interventions for the newly established CREMAs in the Western Region. CRMC members were then tasked to also inform and seek inputs from their constituent communities on their preferred livelihood option and present it at a planned workshop. This was to ensure that the preferred livelihood options by CREMA communities are taken into consideration during its development and implementation.
- A two-day consultative workshop was planned for the Asuo Bia Nkyirima CREMA to identify and select their preferred livelihood schemes. The workshop was to take two forms thus; the plenary discussions and group work. Both forms is seek information at the CREMA level and at the CRMC level.
The two-day consultative workshop took place on 13th and 14th November, 2018 at the Christ Apostolic Church Auditorium in New Papaase. There was a change of venue due to an emergency meeting which took place at the Church of Pentecost Church Auditorium on both days. The workshop was attended by 83 persons comprising 62 males and 21 females (Annex A). The participants were members of the eight Community Resource Management Committees (CRMCs) of the Asuo Bia Nkyirima CREMA. Two Chiefs from Awuni Camp and New Papaase also participated in the workshop.
The workshop was facilitated by Abigail Frimpong and Henrietta Asiedu of Conservation Alliance and Ishmael Budu Arkoh of Conservation Cocoa Association. It started with a prayer by Mr. Samuel Akwetey of Sika Ne Asem CRMC and was followed by introduction of facilitators and participants.
Purpose of the Workshop
Abigail Frimpong shared the purpose of the workshop which was to identify sustainable livelihood ventures that CREMA communities are interested in. The outcome of the workshop will serve as the guidance for the development and running of the additional livelihood development scheme of the GFIP. To ensure that the inputs of the various CRMC members are the views and suggestions of the various communities, the CRMCs were supported to hold local community meetings prior to their attending the workshop. All the CRMCs confirmed that the local meetings had been held and the suggestions of the larger communities were sought. A list of the communities consulted by each CRMC is attached as Annex B.
Past and Existing Livelihood Options in the Landscape
The history of past livelihood ventures in the area were discussed at length. The participants shared that the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) intervention was introduced by the Bia West District Assembly however, the intervention was saddled with numerous challenges and therefore, ended unsuccessfully. The major challenge the LEAD intervention faced was perceived dishonesty on the part of community leaders of the intervention. The leaders tasked to register potential beneficiaries of tailoring and hair dressing enterprises registered more persons than the intervention could support. Again, there was inadequate supply of logistics for local service providers of the program including tailors and hair dressers who were training beneficiaries of the intervention. The service providers therefore, quitted their services and the intervention suffered a halt.
Activities Undertaken during the Main and Light Cocoa Season
The participants were also asked about their livelihood activities during the periods between the main and light crop seasons of cocoa. Majority of the participants reiterated that, little is done during those periods and poverty becomes prevalent during those periods. However, a small section of the CREMA population engage in maize, rice and vegetable productions predominantly along water bodies. The food crops cultivated are mostly for subsistence purposes. It was thus, inquired if the CREMA is interested in engaging in additional livelihoods and the participants enthusiastically responded in the positive. They shared that due to limited livelihood activities during their lean cocoa season, financial hardships causes most of them to engage in unstainable resource use like illegal hunting and illegal draining of water bodies to feed themselves and their dependents. Thus, in the case where they benefit from the additional livelihood scheme, their income levels will increase even in the lean cocoa season and cause a reduction in unsustainable resource use in the area.
The participants were then grouped into the eight CRMCs and tasked to write down the livelihood ventures suggested by their respective communities during their community engagements which preceded the workshop.
Preferred Additional Livelihood Options
In a plenary discussion, the participants were tasked to rank the first five of their most preferred livelihood venture and also provide reasons for each choice. The list of their first five livelihood choices include;
- Bee keeping
- Soap making (perfumed soaps and local soaps from cocoa pods)
- Snail rearing
- Fish farming
- Tree nurseries
Bee Keeping came up as the most preferred livelihood venture on the premise that honey is a useful commodity for both food and income. Also, the bees that produce the honey also act as pollinators of agricultural fields hence, should many persons engage in bee keeping the productivity of farms in the area will increase. Again, bee keeping does not require much labor and little supervision and it is also require little technical assistance.
The beneficiary farmer may not require additional financial support after the initial start-up and thus has high chances of being sustained beyond the project phase. Finally, honey is a high value commodity with considerable local market and thus a lucrative venture.
Soap making was also ranked second by the participants. They would prefer both perfumed and local soaps which are an everyday need for every family and therefore, has a significant local market should it produced on a large scale. Families can also save money that would have been used for buying soaps and that money can be saved or invested. Again, there is local raw material for the local soaps although the perfumed soap may require raw material sourcing from outside their locality.
Snail rearing came up as the third preferred livelihood venture. This is because snails are considered a delicacy of most communities in the CREMA although some communities do not consume snails. They explained that there is considerable market for snail within their localities and also among neighbouring communities and town. Snail is a priced commodity and will therefore, contribute considerably to the family income during the lean cocoa season.
Fish farming came up as the fourth preferred livelihood venture. Although this venture is considered labour and capital intensive, the available local market makes is a lucrative venture. The fish will also support the household nutrition and reduce the financial burden of families who due to the scarcity of fish in the CREMA resort to purchasing fish at exorbitant prices.
Tree nurseries came up as the fifth preferred livelihood activity. This is due to the current markets that exist due to several climate change related programs and projects including GFIP. Local communities are also gradually developing interest for plantation development. Engaging in tree nursery establishment could satisfy for the local demands as well as external demands from some projects. The tree nurseries can also provide the trees seedlings that will be required in replanting degraded areas in the CREMA.
The explanations provided for each selected livelihood venture shows that the participants are well aware of their choices and this can support the success of the livelihood scheme in the CREMA.
These interactions concluded the two day workshop. The participants expressed their gratitude for the intentions of the project to provide them some livelihood support and that has a significant potential to encourage more persons to support sustainable resource management activities in the CREMA.
It is essential for livelihood support schemes to provide clear information on what the scheme seeks to achieve and also commit beneficiaries using relevant documentation on agreements. This was lacking in the LEAP intervention in the area according to local communities and that accounted for its failure.
The CREMA communities have expressed the significant contribution the additional livelihood support scheme could make towards improvement of their family income especially during the period where cocoa is out of season. Although the participants were informed of the limited resource of the project thus only a selected beneficiaries will be support however, there is the need to manage high expectations that usually come with such interventions.
- It will be useful to roll out the livelihood support scheme in the shortest possible time, to keep the interest of CREMA communities high. This is important for the continual adherence to the intents of the CREMA.
- Intensify the engagement of local communities of livelihood scheme with the intent to minimise potential expectations that could arise.
- Ensure that the selection criteria and the selection process of beneficiaries is transparent to avoid sabotage from persons who will not benefit.
- Facilitate the roll out of the Additional Livelihood Development Scheme in the CREMA.
Periodic monitoring of the activities of beneficiaries of the scheme.