RICCE, AJWS Want Residents of Forest Communities in Nimba Make Use of Their Forests

The Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE) in collaboration with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), is encouraging residents of forest communities in Nimba to manage their forests and make use of the products.

Speaking on behalf of RICCE and AJWS at a Joint Community Forest Management Body (JCFMB) joint stakeholders’ engagement meeting, the Gender officer of RICCE, Ms. Mary-rose Jacobs encouraged citizens including women to make maximum use of their forests.

The meeting was held under the theme: Enhancing gender inclusive natural resource governance. It brought together over 50 stakeholders from all the forest communities (Gba, Zor and Sehyi), Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and local government authorities.

The meeting created awareness on forest conservation, women Land Rights and provided opportunity for JCFMB to report to its Community Assembly (CA) and key stakeholders within the forest communities.

Ms. Jacobs said making use of Non Timber Forest products (NTFP) could immensely avoid negative environmental impacts on the community and promote conservation.

She told the gathering that her organization with funding from AJWS is working with about 150 women from five forest communities in helping them know their rights, get involve into the protection of the forest and how to make positive use of the forest products.

She named Gbobayee, Geipa, Kpolay, Dulay and Sehtontuo as RICCE’s project communities. To enhance sustainability and strengthen women participation, RICCE is working with the Zor Women Forest Forum in creating awareness on women land rights, forest conservation, gender inclusive forest governance in the project communities.

Also speaking at the stakeholders’ engagement, Mr. Saye Thompson, Chairman of the Joint Community Forest Management Body thanked RICCE and partners for supporting the engagement meeting to report to the community which has been delayed due to lack of    budgetary support. The report covered awareness, engagement, support forest guards to patrol Community forest, biomonitoring, clearing of boundary lines and mini community projects with support from ArcelorMittal Biodiversity Conservation Program.

Key highlights of CFMB activities include: Forty-eight thousand United States dollars (US$48,000. 00) from AML to support CFMB activities and min community projects from 2022- 2023; Received thirty thousand United States dollars as land rental fees from SOLWAY for 152 hectares of land in the Blei community forest for exploration work; contributed to construction of community town halls, Teachers quarters, Guest house and plastic chairs in seven communities (Yolowee, Gbobayee, Suakarzue, Zortapa, Zolowee, Bassa village and Gbapa and new one year MOU signed with AML to support CFMB activities with grant amount of eighty thousand United States dollars (US$80,000.00) respectively.

Mr. Thompson added that bringing his members together usually for the report has been cost intensive which his office could not underwrite when Arcelormittal Liberia (AML), stopped its support to them.

Besides the joint report, he said quarterly reports have been made in meetings to keep his people informed of their activities; adding that the delay on making larger report was not intentional.

Mr. Thompson has however called on members of the forest communities to always seek information through the proper channel than spreading false information.

For his part, the Chief Park Ranger for the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), at the Eastern Nimba Nature Reserve, El- Amara Konuwah has stressed the need for frequent communication and meetings.

Mr. Konuwah said when there are frequent communication and meetings, it helps to erase propaganda and insinuation.

He added that propaganda and insinuation can lead to character assassination and ruining an institution.

At the same time, the Gender Officer of the Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE), Mrs. Mary-rose Jacob has emphasized the importance of involving women into leadership and decision making

RICCE with funding from the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is implementing a project in five forest communities with women enlightening them on their roles in society.

Speaking Wednesday December 6, 2023 during a joint stakeholders’ engagement in Gbobayee Town, Nimba County, Mrs. Jacobs stressed that considering women in major decisions and leadership will ensure development in the various communities and country.

She mentioned that women are good managers, mothers, peace builders, developers and critical decision makers and leaders.

Mrs. Jacobs stressed gender inclusiveness in natural resource governance; noting that over the years, women have been stereotyped, ignored and depressed, making it difficult for them to meet their full potentials.

“We all know that in the past, women were not allowed in leadership, decision making and even to own properties such as land among others, which hindered our growth as a country,” Mrs. Jacobs noted.

She maintained that people have had traditional concept that women were men’s properties and so, it was less important to own properties.

The RICCE Gender Officer explained that when women are educated, they help a whole society and when they own property, it is well managed for the greater good of society.

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