Despite important ecosystem services that nature provide, Liberia and the Mano River Basin region of West Africa suffers some of Africa’s serious environmental problems. These include deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, desertification, wetland degradation, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, etc. Moreover, wealth from the subregion’s abundant natural resources is too often diverted away from the populations in need into the hands of too few powerful and corrupt individuals. This is fueling human rights abuses, environmental damage, inequality, bitterness, mistrust, alienation, corruption, conflicts and instability.
Empowering Communities to Protect Nature and Combat Climate Change
VOSIEDA works with partners and local communities to research and carries out field projects and multi-stakeholder dialogues aim to protect vulnerable natural resources and places such as our forest, biodiversity, and critical ecosystems.
Second, we are undertaking a series of education and advocacy programs that aim to inspire, inform, and enable local stakeholders to protect nature for future generations.
Third, we are increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement and citizens’ demands for accountability in natural resources management.
As we face an escalating biodiversity crisis in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region, we need women as equal, active players in conservation. What is more, environmental degradation is exacerbating violence against women. Women are also more likely than men to live in poverty, and they are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other environmental hazards. Consequently, we promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in conservation and sustainable development. We believe nature conservation and women’s rights are inextricably linked.
Forests are globally important in regulating climate and locally significant in sustaining communities and supporting biodiversity. Nonetheless, in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region, deforestation and forest degradation continue to harm biodiversity while contributing to climate change and increased poverty. VOSIEDA works to build sustainable landscapes, protect primary forests, and advance the rights of forest communities in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region.
Climate change is one of the most crucial and threatening issues of our time, with far-reaching impacts in local communities in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. VOSIEDA address climate change by strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in local communities. We are also improving education, awareness, and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning in local communities.
Marine resources, coastal forests, and mangroves are an incredibly productive ecosystem. Nevertheless, despite rich biodiversity and important ecosystem services that coastal resources provide, Liberia and the Mano River Basin region are faced with enormous challenges in managing coastal forests and marine resources. Poverty, lack of sustainable and alternative livelihood opportunities, widespread ignorant about ecological values of coastal resources and forest laws, and extreme social and political pressures from impoverished communities are the main factors driving unsustainable exploitation of available resources. VOSIEDA is working to enhance the sustainability and protection of mangroves, coastal forests, watersheds, and marine ecosystems in Liberia and West Africa Mano’s River Basin region through improved resources governance, conservation, and livelihoods creation.
Our Ongoing Climate Change & Environmental Sustainability Projects
PROJECT TITLE: Strengthening capacity of non-state actors to improve FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa
SUPPORTERS: European Union through a partnership with Tropenbos International (TBI)
DURATION: 2017 – 2021
REGION: Western Africa
SECTOR: Forest and Sustainable Land Governance
In Western Africa, FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes have become main drivers for reforms in forest governance, with both REDD+ and FLEGT-VPA processes currently ongoing in Ghana, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire. The success of these processes is heavily dependent on the participation of all stakeholders. Every stakeholder has different needs and interests and is impacted differently by decisions made in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes. To be able to include the diversity of concerns and needs as well as strengths of various stakeholders, it is important to involve all stakeholders, including Non-State Actors (NSAs) in these forest governance process. Inclusive governance will promote a sense of ownership of the process by all stakeholders involved and it is more likely to result in an outcome that is supported by everyone which eventually will result in more sustainable outcomes.
Non-State Actors comprise a wide variety of actors within the private sector, civil society, and local communities. Currently, effective NSA participation in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa is mostly limited to large forest and timber companies and a handful of international and national NGOs. Some local communities and small and medium forest-based enterprises (SMEs) have also been targeted by specific projects but the reach and coverage are still far from adequate not only due to their widespread nature but also because of a lack of systematic institutional attention to these groups and inadequate representation of their organizations in relevant fora and processes, lack of organization, capacities, strategies and means to participate meaningfully in such processes. Although the participation of NSAs is important to the success of both forest governance processes, several groups have been barely engaged in the development and implementation of these processes in Western Africa, more so in the case of Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. Among these groups are SMEs including community-based forest enterprises, most local NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs), traditional authorities, women groups, youth groups, and forest-dependent communities. This proposal particularly focusses on this category of actors in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Liberia.
The project intends to bridge the gap between the role NSAs ideally would play in forest governance processes in Western Africa and the current situation vis-à-vis the participation of NSAs in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Ghana, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire.
The EU NSA project is funded by European Union with overall coordination by Tropenbos International (TBI) and executed in partnership by Volunteers for Sustainable Development in Africa (VOSIEDA) in Liberia, Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) and Tropenbos Ghana (TBG) in Ghana, and Groupe National de Travail pour la Gestion durable des Forets et Certification Forestiers en Cote d’ Ivoire (GNT-CI) in Cote D’Ivoire.
The specific objective of the project is to ‘Enhance the capacity of Western African non-state actors (NSAs) to monitor, advocate, and engage with state actors (SAs) in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes.’
The overall objectives of this proposed action are threefold:
· The contribution of non-state actors to forest governance and sustainable forest management in Western Africa improved.
· The contribution of forests to development in Western Africa strengthened; and
· Inclusive, transparent, and accountable forest governance in Western Africa.
1. Increased organizational and operational capacities of local and national NSAs to undertake participatory and independent monitoring of forest governance and forest land-use change, including changes in livelihoods and social and environmental safeguards.
2. Improved transparency, access to information, and accountability in the forest and land sectors.
3. Effective engagement of NSAs in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes.
4. Viable sub-national, national, and cross-border networks of well-informed local non-state actors, and increased cross-border cooperation and information exchanges.
5. Information and lessons exchanged with international REDD+ and FLEGT-VPA communities.
· Awareness creation, training, and NSAs mobilization
· Develop and implement tools for independent forest and land-use change monitoring
· Building coalitions and networks
· Peer-to-peer experiential learning, promotion of good practices and technical guidance
· Monitoring and evaluation
· Sharing of lessons and experiences on NSA user-friendly platforms.
1. Established networks of active forest monitors to influence FLEGT and REDD+ processes and convincing evidence for advocacy in the forest and land governance is brought together.
2. Communities know how much revenue is generated from the forest and receive their benefits in real-time and become better monitors of the forest.
3. Best forest legality practices shared in Ghana with an increase in investment flow into the country.
4. NSAs have influenced decisions on FLEGT and REDD+ leading to an operational FLEGT license.
5. State actors more accountable for forest revenue usage with improved benefits flow to communities.
6. Enhanced availability and access to information on the impacts of REDD+ and FLEGT-VPA processes to beneficiary communities.
7. Improved forest governance leading to equitable tree tenure benefits sharing and increase the supply of legal wood to the domestic market with the passage of the PPP.
The project has trained over 300 community monitors in 51 communities to monitor and collect data on illegal forest infractions using the ForestLink Real-Time Monitoring (RTM) technology app on some selected thematic issues. Platforms of engagement have also been created across platforms such as:
1. Civil Society-led Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) Platform organizations and Forestry Commission at the National level on collaboration on Independent Forest Monitoring.
2. Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and State Authorities as well as communities at the regional and district levels.
3. Community Monitors and State Authorities at the District Level through fora, Town Hall meetings, and Community Discussions.
PROJECT TITLE : Climate Resilient Agriculture and Ecosystem – Based Adaptation, Liberia
SUPPORTERS : United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Liberia)
DURATION : 2019 – 2020
REGION: Western Africa
COUNTRY : Liberia
SECTOR : Climate Change
Local communities in Liberia have become prone to the adverse effects of global climate change. Increased in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, and more frequent extreme proceedings resulting in erratic rainfall pattern, floods and crops failures are already being experienced (NAPA, Liberia, 2008). In addition of climate change impact on agriculture, coastal ecosystems, coastal settlements and many coastal economies of Liberia have become extremely vulnerable to impacts of global climate change including rising sea levels, sea erosion, intensifying storm surge, extreme precipitation, and coastal flooding.
With funding from the Green Climate Fund through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), VOSIEDA is conducting climate change vulnerability and climate risk assessments on key sectors including agriculture and coastal ecosystem; developing pilot sites for demonstration of agriculture resilience and coastal ecosystem-based adaptations practices. The objectives are 1) to enable local farming and coastal communities to develop the knowledge base and capacity required to adapt and safeguard their agricultural systems and livelihoods as well as protect/enhance coastal ecosystem and communities. 2) To empower Liberian national policy makers in facilitating integration of climate change adaptation into national development planning processes.
The direct beneficiaries of the project are the Environment Planning Authority and the National Climate Change Secretariat. Key government partners and stakeholders are Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection (MoGCSP), National Disaster Management Agency, National Port Authority of Liberia, Liberia Maritime Authority, Bureau of National Fisheries, Liberia National Department of Meteorology, Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services and University of Liberia and Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT).
The project is supporting Liberia to put in place a National Adaptation Planning process that would contribute to and build upon existing development planning strategies at the same time be able to implement priority adaptation actions.
Sector: Climate Change, Agriculture and Ecosystem Adaptations
Domain: Environment and Natural Resources Security
Benefiting zone: Liberia (Grand Cape Mounty and Nimba Counties)
Nature: Action Grants