The CCI worked with local communities to understand their attitudes towards the protected areas, and to develop a regional action plan for the sustainable management of the WAP complex, identifying approaches to generate sustainable livelihoods around the protected area whilst safeguarding the habitats and wildlife within it. In Benin, the CCI efforts focused on providing training in entrepreneurship and financial management, alongside developing new skills, with a focus on supporting women. 22 women were trained and equipped in artisanal soap making who have gone on to sell 1,300 bars of soap, and 2 men and 8 women were also trained and equipped in market garden production. In Niger, we have additionally trialled an approach of income generation from Moringa tree (Moringa oleifera) production for medicinal use, with the distribution of 600 seedlings and a first harvest of 20kg of leaves.
In February 2020, the WAP Programme conducted socio-economic surveys among the communities within the protected areas of northern Benin. These surveys enabled the communities to identify income-generating activities, which the CCI hopes to pursue in the communities within the periphery of the W National Park, particularly in the village of Kanderou. In June 2021, the CCI supported reforestation around Kanderou Kokera Primary School and Yabadou Nursery School. School children and parents, supervised by Yekini Chabi N’Diaye, the ZSL WAP field manager, Garba Moucharafou, the CCI facilitator and Moustapha Hamma, the Periphery Director for the African Parks Network, planted 40 trees that will provide fruits and shade.
Now, at the request of the Kanderou Kokera Primary School’s director, the CCI is helping to establish a school garden. As part of the garden project, schoolchildren and parent volunteers will also participate in natural resource conservation awareness-raising and information sessions conducted by the CCI community agent and African Parks Network facilitators.