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WAPFOR provides ten “okada” bikes as livelihood packages for 3 Mountain Communities

Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

If livelihood and other beneficial packages are the main deterrent for stopping communities to enter into the western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve and carry out illegal activities such as logging, then the forest situated in the Western Area rural will be highly protected and serve this country well in the future. Since the start of the project for the conservation of the Western Area Peninsular forest reserve and its watershed started few years back, there have been many benefits enjoyed by the community people in other to encourage them and pamper them not tamper into the forest. Communities lying in and along the peninsula forest such as Cobba Water, Tombo, Number 2 River, York to name but a few have all benefitted greatly from the WAPFOR project through Welthungerhilfe (WHH). Some of the projects they have benefitted include, bee keeping and processing, vegetable production and other key activities which the communities are implementing to carry out developmental works in their various localities.

the donated okada bikes coming from the WAPFOR office

The communities along and within the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve are many and it is incumbent on the project to fund many developmental activities for these communities as livelihood programmes and activities so that they will not cut down trees or logs in the forest. The latest communities to have come to the assistance of the WAPFOR project are the communities of Mortaim, Bathurst and Charlotte. On Friday 19th August 2011 at the project headquarters in Wilberforce, community representatives and community youth development organizations converged at the office in other to signed documentations and receive the livelihood packages on behalf of the communities.

The Mortaim community received four motor bikes commonly called Okadas while the Bathurst and Charlotte will each receive three bikes after they have fulfilled their documentation process. The motor bikes will be used as commercial bikes to ply within the communities and the proceeds will be used to buy more bikes for themselves and create more employment for the youths in the beneficiary communities.

The motor bikes were all numbered and registered with full gears supplied. The Mortaim community received Okada numbers AFW 312, AFW 311, AFW 081 and AFW 078 while Charlotte and Bathurst received AFW 080, AFW 314, AFW 077, AFW 316 and AFW 078.

In his statement, the Project Manager for the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve, Jochen Moninger said the main objective of the Okada business is to provide alternative livelihood for selected peripheral communities around the WAPFOR so that their over dependence on the forest for livelihood will be reduced drastically.

Speaking on the responsibilities of the beneficiary communities, Mr. Moninger noted that they should have a registered business unit and should have operational bank accounts where the proceeds of the Okadas will be placed for the development of the communities. He added that rules and regulations should be set and method of profit distribution clearly spelt out where at least 5% of the profits generated from the business should go for servicing community development projects. He recommends for the formation of implementing committees who should be transparent and who should be ready to produce a monthly report of the business to the entire membership where a copy should be forwarded to the WAPFOR field staff for filing and follow up. Mr. Jochen also recommends for women in the communities to be encouraged to become riders so that they should become direct beneficiaries of the motor bikes.

On the part of the responsibilities of the riders, all riders should have current and authenticated driving licenses, should prepare to obey the traffic rules and should observe all safety precautionary measures as inappropriate behavior to passengers is not acceptable and it will be a breach of contract. The riders are also allowed to only use routes that are mandatory by the management committees.

The WAPFOR project shall specifically carry responsibilities in making that Okada business for selected communities is successful and some of them includes; provision of initial capital-the purchase value of the bikes and the initial insurance and license cover, provision of security and rain gears for each bike, work closely with the environmental committees to provide monitory and supervisory roles, training of the management committees in business management, traffic regulations and conflict management.

The supervision of the business will be done by the environmental management committees and WAPFOR staff while monthly balance sheets will be presented by the implementing executive to the supervision team. The project recommended that monies collected should be deposited in the bank at the start of each week day.

Even though the bikes have been given to the communities, all bikes remain the bonafide property of WAPFOR and they may withdraw the bikes if they are not properly managed by the implementing communities.

The project manger maintained that as they are providing motor bikes for the communities, the communities should as well ensure they maintained the forest and prevent it from being deforested adding that it is illegal to collect wood, charcoal and logs in the forest.

The Councilor for the ward 326 constituency 92, Madam Margarett Kargbo after thanking the WAPFOR project for providing the Okada bikes to communities in her constituency said that there will be no respecter of any person who enters into the forest for the purpose of deforestation. She encouraged her communities to desist forth from entering into the forest and promised to the project that any defaulter will be penalized and shamed publicly or legal action taken to that person. She also pleaded for other communities such as Leicester and Gloucester to be included as beneficiaries of the project.

The WAPFOR Environment Officer, Lajai Ensah Bunduka encouraged the beneficiary communities not to ever enter into the forest again and cut down trees in the forest. He encouraged them to make good use of the bikes and be able to multiply more bikes in a period of eight months from now.

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