Liberia: Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability Project Graduates 1177 for Sustainability to Better Community Forest Management

Monrovia — The Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability (FIFES) Activity, a five-year activity funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, has completed training for 1, 177 beneficiaries of the first cohort, under the Women Owning Resources Together (WORTH) groups activities implemented by its strategic implementing partner, PACT.

WORTH interventions focus on training individuals in simple accounting skills and village-based savings and loan procedures. They run for 18 months, with a six months savings cycle and is accompanied by literacy, numeracy and working together as a group training. Graduation ceremonies were held at Community Forest Management Body Hubs, in northern and southern Nimba county (Sanniquellie and Tappita), and brought together the CFMBs, the WORTH members and their families, as well as local county authorities from the community forests of Gbear-Gblor, Sehzuplay, and Kparblee.

WORTH groups are comprised of 30 members each, 20 groups from Tappita, and 28 from Sanniquellie, who completed their training successfully, with three rounds of savings and loan implementation, and are now graduates of the savings and literacy program of the first Cohort.

Speaking during the graduation, Madam Josephine Greaves, PACT's team lead and WORTH specialist said, she was glad to be graduating the 1, 177 beneficiaries, who are members of 48 WORTH groups. She also said, "now that you have the training as management committee members, and as Empowerment Workers, it is now expected that you will continue saving, making loans and remain as a WORTH group, while you more closely link yourselves to your respective CFMBs, for continued monitoring and supervision."

For his part, Borwen Sayon, FIFES deputy chief of party said, working with the WORTH groups is because of the need to improve community forest management and livelihoods. He called for the beneficiaries to utilize the training and remain together and cited the need to sustain the WORTH groups in collaboration with CFMBs, which for him is paramount to livelihood and economic gains being made within the CF, as a way of managing it and not loosing on biodiversity.

The FIFES DCoP concluded by stressing the need for communities to engage in sustaining livelihood initiatives, for reduced pressure on the forest and loss of biodiversity.

To date, based on the success of this program, Cohort Two of the WORTH activities has been started. In Nothern Nimba, Sanniquillie CFMB, there are an additional 44 WORTH groups, with a membership of 1, 051, and in Southern Nimba, 64 WORTH groups with a membership of 1, 552, as Grand Bassa is soon to benefit from WORTH interventions.

The FIFES project is aligned with USAID/Liberia's Country Development Corporation Strategy. Its overall goal is to help rural farmers and forest-dependent communities develop forest-based enterprises in ways that reduce threats to biodiversity and combat deforestation, forest degradation, and biodiversity loss.

FIFES aims to increase inclusive, sustainable economic opportunities for local community forest stakeholders while building the capacity of local institutions to effectively implement national policies, promote better management, and integrate gender equity and youth opportunities within the 11 community forests in Nimba and Grand Bassa counties. The project supports four community forest governance and management structures in Northern Nimba County (Sanniquellie area) as well as five in Southern Nimba County (Tapitta area), and two in Grand Bassa County (Buchanan area).

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