By Kandeh Sesay
Following the rolling out of the National Tree Planting Project (NTTP) by the Ministry in all Five Regions across the country, local farmers (Service Providers) and community stakeholders have been thoroughly sensitized on the implementation of the NTTP in the Northern Region, precisely, in Koinadugu and Bombali Districts respectively. The awareness raising campaign is done in collaboration with National Council for Civic Education and Development (NaCCED), with key mandate to intensify sensitization and awareness raising drive in all five regions across the country.
The awareness raising campaign team disseminated key messages which revolved around the formation of Community Forest Management Committee (CFMC), constituting service providers and community stakeholders/CBOs. The focus is to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between service providers and community stakeholders to primarily strengthen community ownership of the NTTP.
This awareness raising campaign saw in attendance different stakeholders including Paramount Chiefs, District Forest Officers (DFOs), service providers, women, youths, Civil Society Activists (CSOs), CBOs and journalists. In addition, the sensitization drive incorporates an engagement with community radio stations and town hall meetings with relevant stakeholders on the NTTP.
During the sensitization meetings of community stakeholders, the Information Officer of the Ministry, LahaiKpaka deliberated upon the establishment of the new stand-alone Environment Ministry that is charged with the mandate to formulate and facilitate appropriate policies and programs for the sustainable management of the environment.
He noted that the Ministry of Environment supervises six key agencies that directly deals with the environment. Sequel to this, he highlighted the achievements of the Ministry citing, to name a few, the June 5th World Environment Day Commemoration, the review of Six Legislations and the successful planting of 1.2 million seedlings across the country during the first phase of the tree planting project in 2020.
He dilated extensively on the NTTP and emphasized on community ownership of the project.
He entreated local farmers to inculcate the habit of planting tress for afforestation in their local communities and desist from indiscriminate cutting of trees in forest areas.
The Chairman of the National Council for Civic Education and Development (NaCCED), KaliluTotangi, intimated that the purpose of the awareness raising drive is to let community stakeholders understand the entire process of the NTTP and more significantly, to take ownership of the project.
He said the role of NaCCED is to educate and sensitize the gullible public about government projects and activities. He took into consideration the impact of climate change and the environmental damage been perpetuated by illegal activities done by some community people. He noted that the sensitization drive would showcase findings from a documentary done on NTTP thus highlighting the missing link between service providers and local people in different communities.
He said all necessary recommendations and concerns from key stakeholders would be forwarded to the Ministry for appropriate actions on the rolling out of the project. He encouraged community stakeholders and service providers to collaborate effectively in order to ensure sustainability of the project.
Meanwhile, a documentary on the project was displayed for community stakeholders and service providers to understand the successes and perennial challenges in implementation of the project. Sequel to this, numerous contributions were put forward in order to ensure sustainability of NTTP.
In addition, communication kits on the project, notably, posters and flyers, were evenly distributed among participants for onward sensitization drive in their various communities.