African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests constituted

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Twenty women leaders involved in Forest and Farm Management met at the Pakalinding Trans-Gambia Lodge, Lower River Region, ON 3 and 4 April 2017 to establish a national platform.

The platform is aimed at promoting women’s leadership and advocacy for the inclusion of gender and interests of women in policies and mechanisms of Sustainable Management of Forests and Farms in The Gambia.

The process was facilitated by the Department of Forestry, National Farmers Platform of The Gambia and All Gambia Forestry Platform with funding from Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) through Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) Initiative.

According to Mr Kanimang Camara, National Facilitator of FFF The Gambia, said the support was provided in the context of a regional programme in support of African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF).

REFACOF was founded during the international conference on forest tenure, governance and enterprise, held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 25 to 29 May 2009.

REFACOF is the outcome of an initiative by 45 women leaders of different countries of West Africa (Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal) and Central Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, Gabon, CAR, DRC) who play an active role in the ongoing land and forest tenure reform processes both nationally and globally, with the goal of ensuring that land and forest tenure rights are recognised and secured.

The  mission of  REFACOF,  which  was  refined  during  the  international  planning  workshop in 2010, is to promote women’s rights in Africa and advocate to shape policies and practices for gender equity in relation to land and forest tenure.

REFACOF intends to consolidate its position as a major actor for the promotion of land and forest rights of women in Central and West Africa.

Mr Cherno Gaye, head of Participatory Forest Management Unit at the Department of Forestry, outlined the processes employed since 2016 to date with an intended outcome of establishing The Gambia platform.

Among the activities implemented are mapping of women stakeholders groups in the fields of agriculture and forest management in The Gambia, and strengthening capacity of women leaders on simple forest management techniques, approaches and participatory forest management concepts.

According to Cherno, the task of the meeting was to set up a platform of women groups identified during the mapping exercise and the conducted trainings alongside the development of an action plan for the implementation of activities identified by the platform.

With facilitation support from Natural Resources Consulting, participants developed a Draft Constitution and a 5-year strategic plan to implement key priority focus areas for the promotion of women leadership rights on tree and land tenure as well as policy processes.

The National Executive Committee of the Platform was selected by the General Assembly with representation from the 7 Agricultural Regions of The Gambia.

 Mrs Aunty Rohey Ceesay of Kuntaur Central River Region North “Musu Fondinkeh Kaafoo”, involved in rice production and tree seedlings, was elected as the Platform president for the next 2 years.

In her acceptance speech, Anty Rohey Cessay emphasised cordial working relationship and collaboration of Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs) with FFF Programme of FAO in terms of organising FFPOs for policy engagements and support to markets to enable sustainable management of forests and farms in The Gambia since its inception in 2013.

She commended her female colleagues in West and Central Africa for initiating this laudable programme.

The president-elect informed the participants that the formation of Gambia Platform on African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF) has been realised in recognition of the great benefits of unification of women involved in Community Forest Management and Farms under one representative body.

The general role of REFACOF The Gambia Platform was to support and contribute to the protection and conservation of the forest landscapes within The Gambia, whilst maximizing benefits to its members as well as carrying out advocacy at the level of Government and the international development partners for the implementation of reforms.

The President of National Farmers Platform of The Gambia and coordinator of All Gambia Forestry Platform both provided statements geared towards encouraging the National Executive Committee and Regional delegates to strengthen the capacity of their members in achieving the mandates set forth in REFACOF.

Author: Abdoulie Nyockeh
Source: Picture:Group Photo & Platform President Elect Anty Rohey Ceesay