Chiefs call on their people to stop land degradation as sustainable land management pilot sites launched
Paramount Chief of Gbendembu Gowahun Chiefdom, Kandeh Baba Keha III has said that “If we destroy our land now, what will we bequeath to our children?” during the launch of pilot sites for the Sustainable Land Management Project by the Deputy Provincial Secretary in the Northern Region, Mr. Abdulai Koroma. The launch took place on Saturday 5th March, 2011 at Makoth Village (10 km from Makeni) and Gbendembu Town, Bombali District, where the pilot sites are located.
In Makoth village Paramount Chief of Gbanti-Kamaranka Chiefdom, Paramount Chief Mansa Yelli Tham II said the project is of immense value to communities in his chiefdom adding communities across his chiefdom are suffering from land degradation caused by poor land management. “As a farmer myself I am suffering. Out of the 10 acres of rice I planted last season, I realized only 16 bushels of rice instead of at least 25 bushels and more…” He called on his people to make the project succeed “for the good of our future generations.”
In Gbendembu Town, Paramount Chief Kandeh Baba Keha III told an audience of over 300 people that “Wild fires are destroying our land and crops. Land is our greatest asset and the greatest asset for our children. But if we destroy our land now, what will we bequeath to our children?”
Mrs Hadijatou Jallow, the Executive Chairperson of the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone who is managing the project said this is the first time Government, UN and communities are partnering to address the burning issue of land management and environment. She said that the project will benefit local communities in many ways including increasing the productivity of the land, so that there is enough food for communities and the country.
Mrs Jallow said “It will help the communities meet their fuel-wood needs without burning the forests and thereby degrading the quality of land for agriculture. The project will also provide fire belts to prevent communities and their crops.”
UNDP Communications Analyst, Abdul Karim Bah, representing the Country Director said that for the project to succeed and for the issue of land management to succeed, there is need for strong collaboration and partnership among all, including the government, donors and local communities themselves. He said UNDP’s mandate is to support the Government and people of Sierra Leone through technical and other ways to meet their development aspirations and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Capacity Building for Sustainable Land Management Project which is funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) seeks to create sustainable capacity and ownership of land to mitigate land degradation and meet the country’s obligations under the UN Convention to Combat Desertification/Land Degradation.
The pilot project sites will also teach communities how to manage, replicate and adapt community based natural forest management models that will also include experiments on alternatives to slash-and-burn.
Abdul Karim Bah, Communications Analyst, UNDP Sierra Leone. Tel: + 232 33 167 428. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org