Kobawata community gets giant bakery as livelihood package to protect the Western Area forest reserve

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
Once they are ready to protect the forest or denounce their illegal activities in the forest reserve, livelihood activities and programs will always be provided for them by the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve through the Welthungerhilfe after they make a light request. On the side of the management of the project to protect the forest, the only thing they want to hear from a community around the forested areas is to say we will never enter into the forest to cut down trees and request for the project to build or buy for them any kind of livelihood package, believe me the project will do such without hiccup and delay.
It could be recalled that few months back, this community had received training packages including Apiculture also known as bee keeping for the community to engage themselves with and help develop their community and also get the means to pay for their children’s education. The latest livelihood package the Kobawata community received is the bread making package with a giant bakery planted in the community. Edward T Fatoma from the Green Scenery; an implementing partner of the project estimates the bakery to have cost about Le43, 000,000 (forty three million Leones). On the 26th of August 2011, the bakery funders and community people gathered at the Kobawata bakery plant in order to get a taste of the first bread produced; the bakery is supposed to be a test case for other communities who had earlier requested for such kind of livelihood package. The bakery is owned by the community and the proceeds will be used for any activities in the community.

Kobawata community people showing the first bread baked from the bakery

Explaining the bread production process, the facilitator Mr. Wudie Bay Koroma revealed that the more efforts and inputs applied at the first stage of mixing, the more the bread will become attractive to the customers and the more sales will be expected but that if less effort is applied, the bread will not be attractive and sales will absolutely drop. He also made it known that the amount of bread produced from any bag of flour depends on the types of lumps the baker wants to produce ranging from the amount it should be sold and the size. After being soften from a mechanized system, the mixture is transferred to a table for resizing and wrapped for incubation for several hours before it is placed into the oven for baking.
Bread baking needs extensive wood or logs placed into the oven for the bread to be baked and when asked by Standard Times environment on where they are going to get wood to put into the oven for the break baking process, Mr. Wudie said “because we know the dangers of cutting trees or finding wood into the forest, we are going to engage with massive planting of trees in the buffer zones.” He also added that “presently we are using the dead wood to prepare the break.”
Mr. Wudie urged the community people to learn the process so that they will not have to go and hire the services of other people again, adding that the efforts of the youths will add to the production of the bread for the community.
Green Scenery representative on behalf of the Environmental Forum For Action (ENFORAC), Edward T. Fatorma said the bakery cost forty three million Leones including start up kits, construction of the bakery and equipments. He disclosed that when the project started they thought it fit that as communities around the forest are depending on the forest they should be provided with alternative means of livelihood packages.

This forest deserves the right to be protected

Mr. Fatorma noted that this started through a Participatory Rural Livelihood Assessment to look at the level of poverty and the capital available in the community, adding that during the PRLA, they looked at the available livelihood strategy and concluded that there are many things disturbing the in forest in terms of development. He said the community people asked the project for livelihood such as vegetable production, bakery, bee-keeping, small scale ruminant rearing, skills trainings in soap making to name but a few. He noted that among the many needs the community identified, they were mapped in long and short term while furthered divided them into income generating activities which they ended up getting a bakery for the community.
Mr. Fatorma said in an interview with Standard Times Environment that when they understand that wood must be used in the process of bread baking, they sponsored the community for tree planting. He made it clear that the bakery provided for the community will help reduce dependence on the forest.
According to the Communications Officer for the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve, Ekuola Stevens, the Kobawata community is the best community the project had worked with, citing the response the people are showing towards the implementation of the project. The Secretary for the Kobawata Community Mr. Sanpha Sesay maintained that the proceeds will be used for the development of the community, and promised to always protect the forest in their community.
Earlier, a trainee for the bakery and also Assistant Headman for the community, Alimamy Kamara also thanked the project and also promised to not endanger the forest. Woman trainee Kadiatu Sesay on behalf of the women pledged towards actively engaging in in bread production rather than at the risk of getting injuries or being bitten by snakes in the forest.
The care, control and day to day management of the bakery were bestowed to the headman of the Kobawata community.

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