The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has launched the Community-Based Adaptation Training in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.
The exercise highlights the benefits and impact of coastal ecosystems and the urgency for grass-root community action to combat climate change.
It forms part of activities under the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) project funded by the Green Climate Fund.
40 community volunteers working with the Robertsport City Corporation were targeted from the project communities, with a gender consideration.
They were organized under the Community Environment Network (CEN) and charged to coordinate tree planting activities and the clean-up of drainages and flood plains.
Each volunteer is expected to plant and adapt 5 coconut trees. They were selected using the Community Based Adaptation (CBA) Manual developed by SCNL.
This manual encapsulates information relating to climate change impacts, vulnerability, adaptation, disaster risks management at the community level, community-based approach to building resilience, enabling environments for local actions, and capacity assessment for adaptation planning.
EPA Deputy Executive Director Randall Dobayu described the exercise as a milestone to ensure the implementation of the NAP for Liberia.
Dobayu said the EPA will work along with the SCNL and the UNDP for the realization of the project.
“We have to adapt to the issue of climate change because you see the coastline is experiencing serious marine transgression and to avoid us losing our land to the Atlantic Ocean, we must create more awareness,” he said.
Dobayu explained that the NAP project goes beyond just the issue of community engagements. He outlined other areas to include working with the University of Liberia to introduce post-graduate program, where the University will now offer a Master’s degree in three environmental programs.
“We are going to offer the Masters of Science in Biodiversity and Climate Change, Environmental Science and Environmental Management. We have gone 90 percent with the program,” he disclosed.
Doubayou also mentioned that under the NAP, 12 Liberians were sent to Israel for training in biodiversity, climate change and environmental management.
“Environmental clubs are to be established in various high schools and we have also trained farmers in using climate smart materials,” Dobayu further explained.
Also speaking, SCNL Executive Director Michael Garbo said the project will be carried out in Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Montserrado Counties.
Garbo said at least 40 peer educators are expected to be trained in each of the targeted counties with incentives to provide education on the importance of the project.
“People are getting the information well and they are coping with the way we want to work together by planting trees and cleaning their environment,” he said.
“Each participant will be made to plant five trees and manage those trees for five years and the UNDP will come back to see how those trees are being managed,” Gabo noted.
He stated that the project will be gender sensitive and that each tree that will be planted will be named after those planting them.
The Coordinator of NAP project at UNDP, Abraham Tumbey, said the National Adaptation Program of Action was used to identify the immediate and urgent priority of Liberia, stressing the need to develop immediate and longtime plans for Liberia’s climate sector.
“We were also able to conduct vulnerability and risk assessment of the coastline especially the southeast to understand the issues of climate change affecting various sectors including agriculture, fisheries, and take action that would address impact of climate change on those sectors,” Tumbey stated.
As part of the training in Cape Mount, several coconut trees were planted in honor of key individuals and institutions, including President George Manneh Weah, for the support to the implementation of the NAP project.
Others named after the planted trees are EPA Executive Director Nathaniel Blamah, National Disaster Commission Executive Henry O. Williams, UNDP Resident Representative Pa Lamin Beyah and his Deputy, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen and Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue.