VOLUNTEER GROUP ENDS FOREST ADVOCACY, ENGAGEMENT WORKSHOP FOR NON-STATE ACTORS
A two day European Union Funded forest advocacy and engagement training for non-state actors (NSA) has ended in Monrovia with a call on participants to go and transfer knowledge acquired from the workshop to others working in the forest sector to ensure community benefits from their forests and other natural resources.
The capacity building workshop which was held at Corina Hotel in Sinkor, ran from May 10-11, 2018. The interactive workshop brought together participants from four counties, including Lofa, Sinoe, Gbarpolu and Montserrado.
Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) organized the program with funding support from the European Union through Tropenbos International under the EU NSA project and co-funded by Tropenbos International under the Green Livelihood Alliance (GLA) Project.
VOSIEDA Team Leader H. Timothy Kortu encouraged participants to positively engage key stakeholders, including Concession Companies, Forest Structures and FDA in the management of forest, noting, concentrating on constructive engagement in the management of forest will yield positive results.
Members of the NGO Coalition, the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitor (CS-IFM), the National Union of Community Forest Development Committee (NUCFDC), and the Community Forest Monitoring Body (CFMB), including three women and two youth organizations were further cautioned by VOSIEDA Program Manager, Abraham Billy to strive as much as possible to engage in evidence-based advocacy.
The Lead facilitator of the Training, SDI CFRG Team Leader, James Otto, thanked the donor partners, particularly the European Union for their continuous support in transforming the Liberian forest sector for the benefit of the ordinary people.
VOSIEDA’s Capacity Building Expert Richard Hoff II, described the European Union’s support as a lifelong dream within the forest sector, which he said has helped shape national debate in a more positive direction gears towards benefiting host communities.
Mr. Hoff noted that, building the capacity of community members through existing CBOs/CSOs and forest structures in advocacy and engagement strategies could lead to many taking positions on issues confronting the communities in concession areas and at the same time initiate deliberate actions to influence private and public policies during negotiation of forest investments.
For their parts, participants described the workshop as great and rewarding, saying it has taken them to another level in their advocacy campaigns. Augustus Kawala, President of the NUCFDC said he hopes that these kinds of opportunities can be afforded by members of affected community in conducting affairs on their own as it relates to forest governance.
Madam Nowah Supu, Chairlady of the Ganglota Wellekema Women Organization, pleaded with VOSEIDA and its partners to continue their capacity building programs, which according to her, provides women with the opportunity to actively participate within the forest sector, thereby increasing community chance to reap the needed benefits of their natural resources, especial the forest.
Even though the European Union with local partners continues to support transformational efforts aimed at securing the future of Liberia’s forest, the need for Liberians themselves to take appropriate action to save their forest cannot be overemphasized.
Loggers continue to acquire unlawful proceeds from logging businesses under bogus concession arrangements. In the midst of unwavering awareness by both national and international actors, the government of Liberia is subsidizing logging operations through tax waver including the suspension of the bid premium law by the government of Liberia in 2013.