AAD project to support in tackling SLM to combat desertification

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Action Against Desertification (AAD) project is an EU-ACP funded initiative supporting the implementation of the Gambia Green Wall for Sahara and Sahel Initiatives (GGWSSI), with the aim of tackling integrated Sustainable Land Management (SLM) approach in an effort to combat desertification in the provincial Gambian Regions of North Bank, North of Central River and Upper River. Launched in May 2016, the project covers a total area of 589,000 ha of degraded land and is being implemented effectively with relevant stakeholders and partners.

The project is being executed by FAO Gambia-Country Office through Government of the Gambia as the implementing agent in collaboration with four partners namely: Department of Forestry, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, NACO and ADWAC through a “Letter of Agreement” signed between these institutions and FAO Gambia Office.

The general objective of the AAD Project is to improve production systems resilient to climate change for increased food security in the sub-Sahara, with a strategic approach to adopt best sustainable innovative practices, actions and measures that promote and provide support to integrated land management and water control systems.

The project offers a unique opportunity to effect significant changes in scaling-up Government’s investment to promote food security and combat poverty through both policy inputs and innovative grass-roots operations. The project will thus therefore contribute in creating enabling environment with minimal capacity requirement to consolidate and improve good practices in agriculture, livestock, forestry, water resources, rural infrastructure and implementation of social protection initiatives at local levels that favours households with high climate risks vulnerability.

In order to secure producers` investment and improve local livelihoods, the project specifically added values to combine governance, sustainable management of land and water, production of insurance and social protection against climate change. Another important value the project added is linked to the fact that the programme does not only focus on short term aspects of dry land development, but supports the adoption of a medium and long term and comprehensive approach to desertification, land degradation, drought, climate change adaptation and mitigation, loss of biodiversity and supporting of a functional coordination centered on Sustainable Land Management (SLM).

Based on learning by doing approach, the project also aims at applying lessons from best practices on SLM, climate resilience to development policies and practices and building its approach on on-going programmes.

During this period, the implementing partners with the project coordination unit were engaged in series of awareness raising and capacity building activities with the aim of informing relevant stakeholders on the project objectives, and the implementation strategies put in place in the three project implementing areas and clusters districts. Targeted audiences included Regional Technical Advisory Committees, Local Government Authorities, Forest Management Committees, Village Development Committees and Local Communities within the Project sites.

As implementing partner, NACO in collaboration with Regional Foreststaffhad conductedbaseline surveys on the legal status of Community Forests and Forest Parks under Co-management within the project sites, and the agency was equally engaged in the establishment of Regional Sustainable Land Management (SLM) focus group discussions and trained 25 Forest Management Committees on Participatory Forest Management Concepts and approaches.

The agency also conducted capacity building in Sustainable Forest Resource Management and community-based enterprise development on none-timber products and conducted community outreach activities on Drought, Land Degradation and Desertification issues. NACO further trained, Strengthen and developed Enterprise Development Plans, and facilitated field trips to assess SLM activities. Furthermore they facilitated the handing over of Thirty Nine Community Forest Management Agreements (CFMAs) nation-wide by Hon. Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources.        

The Agency for Development of Women and Children (ADWAC), is another implementing partner engaged in the production and distribution of Metallic Stoves called ”Nofflye Jeeg” to beneficiary communities in the three project regions. This effort consolidates and replicates the gains in the provision of the prototype distributed by agency during the implementation of their Sustainable Agricultural and Environmental governance project (SAGE) to rural communities in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau. As rationale to reduce the pressure on forest resources for firewood, the project targeted Constructing 720 improvedstoves during the project period and distribution has started.

The Department of Forestry being Government’s Focal Institution in implementing this project, collaborated with the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) to conduct training on Community Forest and Joint Forest Park Committees members on seeds collection, preparation and handling in view of promoting village based nursery establishment that increase the planting of indigenous tree species on farm lands and open forest areas for improved Natural Forest Management and rehabilitation. 

This year the village-based nurseries provided 7,300 seedlings of different species for the restoration community forests with the objective of creating alternative livelihood through self- employment for the youths and women by selling seedlings. Furthermore, in supporting the implementation of AAD project, the Department of Forestry and the FAO organized training on biophysical baseline assessment using the Collect Earth Tool.

The capacity development exercise was meant to enable the Country Team to produce a baseline report that will highlight the status of drylands in the country and help to identify restoration spots and will serve as a basis for evidence-based decision making and for monitoring the impact of efforts to restore degraded lands and to improve ecosystems and communities resilience in drylands. Participantswere drawn from various institutions, including the Planning Service Unit, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Land and Surveys, the Gambia Bureau of Statistics, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management and the National Environment Agency.

The Department of Forestry facilitated the processes of the developing and updating of a Five year Forest Management Plans for five communities and supported Twenty-five (25) community Forests Committees in completing their legal ownership transfer processes by submitting the relevant documents to Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources and Ministry of Justice for designation process.

Also facilitated the review for updating the ANR Policy (2009-2015) through AAD and FFF projects’ funds in favour of SLM in collaboration with the National Environment Agency   through the recruitment of a lead consultant and six subject matter specialists in various areas within the natural resources sector.

Awareness creation and action on combating desertification was popularised through radio programs in three community radio stations within the project intervention regions and one through the national radio.  But over the period,Forestry Department continues to strengthen community-based sustainable land management through surveying, production of maps of nine community managed forests, training on participatory forest management community forest communities from the districts of Sami and Niani. The training was meant to acquaint participants on the various sustainable forest resource management concepts.

Another key implementing partner is the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) who did the identification of suitable agro forestry/woodlot sites in thirtyschools within the project intervention areas. The selection of schools were based on established criteria (availability of land, evidence of community commitment, population and existence of established mothers’ school club) was done in collaboration with NEA and Forestry Department. They have been promoting environmental green clubs in schools and established and trained thirty school environmental clubs and members respectively on tree nursery development and management in collaboration with ADWAC and Department Forestry.  

Author: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang