CSLP transforms lives in coastal districts in Western Region

A
GNA feature by Godwill Arthur-Mensah

Tweakor (W/R), Sept.
18, GNA – The Coastal Sustainable Landscapes Project (CSLP) is a social
intervention programme being implemented in more than 40 communities in the six
coastal districts of the Western Region by the CSLP team and United States
Forest Service.

The project aimed at
strengthening capacity for low emissions development through improved coastal
forest landscape management, biodiversity conservation, climate change
mitigation measure and environmental governance efforts as well as strengthening
community-based natural resource management and livelihood diversification.

The project, which
started in October 2013 with funding worth $ 3.3 million from the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID) is supposed to be implemented within
three years.

The beneficiary
districts are Shama, Ahanta West, Ellembelle and Jomoro as well as Nzema East
Municipality and Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly.

Other interventions
include the implementation of agro-forestry and forestry practices, short and
medium term livelihood improvement activities such as beekeeping, vegetable
production to enhance food security as well as planning of seedlings in cocoa
farms to provide shade and improve aeration and prevention of erosion.

Dr Steve Dennison,
the Director of CSLP, commended the beneficiary communities for their sincerity
and adopting international best practices in climate change mitigation.

He indicated that
the project long-term objective is to inculcate behaviour change so that the
beneficiaries become champions of climate change mitigation advocates in their
communities.

He said the project
is educating the beneficiaries on savings, therefore 26 Village Savings and
Loan Associations (VSLA) have been established in the beneficiary districts to
support themselves.

According to Kwame
Appiah Owusu, the Community Benefit Natural Resource Management Specialist at
the CSLP, the CSLP team scanned the beneficiary districts to select
beneficiaries based on their interest and willingness to adopt the mitigation
measures.

He said within the
two-and-half years of implementation more than one thousand farmers and fisher
folks have benefited.

At Navrongo, a
farming community in the Jomoro District, Mr Walter Cudjoe Adzoko, the Odikro
of the community, said the VSLA had enabled farmers and traders to secure loans
to improve their farming activities, trading and pay their children’s school
fees.

Mr Adzoko said the
Scheme has a Social Fund that supports members in emergency situations,
especially in the event of sickness, deaths and accidents.

At Tweakor Number
One, also a farming community in the District, the Chairperson of the VSLA, Mr
Joseph Tohoun, noted that the Scheme adopted rules and regulations which guided
the beneficiaries in management.

He stated that each
member memorised one regulation, which helped in avoiding non-payment of loans.

He said the members
of the Scheme meet once a week to discuss issues bothering on their welfare.

Mr Tohoun said an
interest of 20 pesewas is earned on GH₵ 2.00 per month, and the monies are kept
in a secure metal box with three keys that are kept by three different
trustworthy members of the Association.

This helps in
preventing fraud and also enhances transparency and accountability.

He said the monies
are shared at the end of every year according to the contributions of members.

“In the past, some
micro-finance institutions came here and collected our monies and run away with
it, but now we are enlightened and managing this scheme by ourselves, which has
aided in reducing our financial burden and relieved us from financial
difficulties.”

Mr Brian Conklin,
the Deputy Director of USAID-Ghana and Economic Growth Office, announced the
extension of sponsorship for the CSLP project with $ 4.5 million dollars at
Naranjo in Jomoro District.

He said the Agency
is delighted by the tremendous and fantastic success of the project, especially
by reducing poverty and mitigating climate change.

He said the USAID is
committed in supporting the project and in the past decade, there has been
reduction of poverty, especially in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West
Regions by 16 per cent.

Mr Conklin said the
“Feed the Future project” established by the US President Barack Obama had
allocated $ 45 million dollars per year, to combat poverty and climate change
in the three regions.

However in view of
the success story of the CSLP, it decided to extend portion of the fund to the
project in the Western Region.

Madam Gladys Atsu, a
beneficiary of the CSLP in Navrongo, believes that the issue of climate change
is a collective responsibility of the citizens towards addressing the
challenges.

“Most of the
challenges are due to human activities therefore all of us must come together
to reverse the situation.

“We must plant more
trees, fish without chemicals, apply organic manure on our farms and adopt best
farming practices so that the earth becomes a better and safer play to live.”

The first phase of
the three-year project would end on September 31, however,  USAID, is extending funding worth $ 4.5
million from the Feed the Future project for the next three years starting from
October 1.

GNA

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