December 2014: by Nicolas Bout, Project Manager at Awely
Awely is an international organisation based in France, created in 2005. Since its inception, we have aimed to put our enthusiasm and our competence in the service of the conservation of endangered species and the ecosystems they share. But since then, in order to achieve our goals in a sustainable way, we have chosen to put the people at the centre of our actions. It seems to us that trying to change the future of endangered species and ecosystems when, all too often, the neighbouring human populations lack even the most rudimentary means for survival is not only ethically intolerable but also totally inefficient over the long-term.
In Cameroon, the project is located in the northern suburbs of the Dja Faunal Reserve. This protected area is one of the largest and most biologically diverse tracts of protected rain forest in Central Africa. It covers 5,260 km². It is made of a mosaic of swamps and grasslands in the rain forest, with ancient granite outcrops pierce the forest canopy. Its biodiversity is exceptional: more than 1200 plant species, 107 mammals, 429 birds and 60 fish have been recorded, including keystone species such like the Western lowland gorilla, the Western chimpanzee, the Forest elephant, the Forest buffalo, the leopard. This site is also one of the best places to observe the extraordinary rock fowl Picathartes.
The periphery of the reserve is inhabited by some local populations, who are living below the poverty line defined by the UNDP and are characterized by a low economic development, ailment difficulties, an low availability of schools and other education institutions. By consequence these populations are particularly dependent on natural resources of the Dja Faunal reserve’s rain forest.
This is why Awely took the decision to work with villages bordering the forest and using forest resources. The programme wants to support local development of the populations in order to serve both human welfare and natural resources conservation. Target groups are: school children, hunters and consumers of bush-meat.
CREATION OF A SCHOOL / CONSERVATION CENTER AS A 1st STEP
The northeast of the Dja Faunal Reserve had no operational school, no teachers on site, so we built one. It was named the Jean-Marc Vichard School for Gorillas. The school is situated in the village of Doumo, bordering the northern edge of the Dja faunal Reserve in the southeast of Yaounde. It includes 3 classrooms, houses for the Director, the 2 teachers and for volunteers (total capacity up to 8), thus a nursery for trees and vegetable. Since October 2014, the staff teaches to about 60 school children the basic curriculum but also to serve as a source for awareness about the preservation of the flora and fauna.
COLLABORATION WITH ONE MILLION LIGHTS
Collaborating with One Million Lights, we would like to distribute 100 solar lights to families, whose children are attending to this school as well as to teachers. There is no available electricity in the villages of the Doumo Pierre’s area. Currently kerosene lamps are used, which are injurious to health and costly to maintain in this rural area cut-off from roads and infrastructure. The solar lights will have a great effect on the educational career of the students of our primary schools. At least 100 children will be able to do their homework after dark (about 6:00 pm). They attend school until 2 pm and then walk home for up to an hour. Back at home they will be engaged in work at the house, kitchen or garden to support their parents. After dark however they mostly are free and could study further and do their homework, if light was available. Please consider donating today to support this project.