Across Liberia, people rely on the country's lush forests to survive. They hunt animals for meat. They clear trees to grow rice and other crops. Slowly, they're destroying what remains of the Upper Guinean forest region and its rich biodiversity. And life isn't easy for Liberia's forest communities. Many struggle to feed their children. Their livelihoods are anything but stable. Pact is addressing both problems with its signature WORTH program, which reduces poverty and empowers women through village banking and entrepreneurship. In Liberia, Pact is implementing WORTH with funding from USAID as part of the FIFES project. Through WORTH, Liberian forest communities are developing new, reliable livelihoods that don’t harm forests. In groups of about 20, WORTH brings women together to save money, access credit and generate income. They make small savings deposits at weekly meetings, and when groups’ funds grow large enough, members may begin taking loans to start small businesses. Groups receive literacy, numeracy and business training. For these women – and for their families, communities and forests – WORTH is making all the difference. In this photo, WORTH members proudly hold up their program guide books. Photo taken Feb. 2017 in Nimba, Liberia.
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In this photo, a stream nourishes a diverse array of water lilies and vines in the Barconnie Community Forest, Grand Bassa County, Liberia. Despite wide-spread pressure by private logging companies to harvest timber from Liberia's community forests, the Barconnie Community Forest Management Body recognized the potential of the forest to support scientific research, given its close proximity to Liberia's capital city, Monrovia, and the presence of native forest buffalo and other wildlife and plants of conservation value. The 600 hectare forest, largely made up of carbon-rich mangrove swamp, was conserved in perpetuity by the local CFMB after they conducted a forest and biodiversity inventory supported by the USAID Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability Activity in March 2019.
All over the world women are excelling in roles that were previously reserved for men. Living proof of this paradigm shift can be found in Liberia, where more and more women are training to be Community Ecoguards, a position that has traditionally been male-dominated at Grebo-Krahn National Park. These are two newly recruited female Community Ecoguards, Felecia Kyne (left) and Mathaline Garley (right), improve their GPS skills during their first field mission in Grebo-Krahn National Park in April 2018. The active participation of women in the Ecoguard Program, run by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the Forestry Development Authority with support from the USAID funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program, is protecting one of the biggest tropical rainforests in the world thus promoting carbon sequestration and storage.
A Liberian man learned about agroforestry techniques to apply within his own community forest through the USAID-funded Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability Activity in 2017. The Activity works with farmers and forest-dependent communities in Liberia to develop enterprises that not only provide income but also combat deforestation and biodiversity loss.
Soko Koryon, Forest Inventory Coordinator for the USAID Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability (FIFES) Activity, describes the methodology used to implement a transect of the Barconnie Community Forest in Grand Bassa County, Liberia as a student from the Liberia Forestry Training Institute looks on. The 600 hectare forest, largely made up of carbon-rich mangrove swamp, was conserved in perpetuity by the local Community Forest Management Body after they conducted a forest and biodiversity inventory supported by the FIFES activity in March 2019.