DGM Ghana Newsletter - September 2018
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DGM Ghana just released its September 2018 newsletter! Highlights include:
Recognition of the project’s early success by the Head of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)
Community outreach through radio broadcasts, including call-in segments and quizzes
Training on forests and climate change for almost 9,000 community members in just 5 months
Supporting a partnership between the Forest Investment Program/COCOBOD partnership by encouraging cocoa farmers to plant 700,000 tree seedlings to grow cocoa in the shade
An innovative rap/poetry contest for raising community awareness and enthusiasm
Congratulations to everyone involved in the project for their outstanding progress spreading knowledge about climate change and forest management in the Western and Brong Ahafo Regions of Ghana!
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Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Local Communities
Newsletter - September 2018
The Climate Investment Funds Applauds Solidaridad
The Head of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), Ms. Mafalda Duarte, has applauded Solidaridad West Africa for the giant stride in building local community capacity on climate change adaptation and mitigation under the Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Local Communities (Ghana-DGM) project. This occurred during a visit by a six-member team from the CIF to Dawadawa No. 2, a Ghana-DGM community, to interact with beneficiaries and patrons of the project.
The visit was undertaken to highlight and document successes made through partnerships as the CIF celebrates 10 years of its existernce and global progress. In Ghana, the CIF funds the DGM project and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) through the World Bank.
“We are here to see results, listen to beneficiary testimonies and share these at the national, regional and global levels”, said Mafalda. “Indeed, we do consider the Ghana-DGM project and the Forest Investment Program a success, and by highlighting these, we hope to keep working with you to support local communities.”
Solidaridad West Africa (SWA) implements the Ghana-DGM project which aims to strengthen local communities’ knowledge and practices in REDD+ and climate change through capacity building. The Regional Director for SWA, Mr. Isaac Gyamfi, assured the CIF team of further progress as the project enters into a phase where local communities, individuals and CBOs will receive demand-driven grants to undertake small-scale initiatives that relate to climate change and REDD+.
The chief and elders of the Dawadawa No. 2 community hosted the CIF team to a durbar, during which they showed appreciation for the DGM project and pledged commitment towards its successful implementation. Present at the event were Ms. Suzan Yemidi, Country Representative for Solidaridad Ghana; Mr. Musah Abu-Juam, Technical Director at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources; Okyeame Kwame, rapper and Climate Change Ambassador for the DGM project, members of the DGM National Steering Committee; the media; representatives of the Forest Services Division and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and more than 600 residents of Dawadawa No. 2 community.
Stepping Up Climate Change and Land Use Awareness on Radio
Solidaridad West Africa has stepped up the use of radio as a means of creating general awareness at the landscape level, reaching more than 10,000 people in both the Western and Brong Ahafo Regions, where the Ghana-DGM project is being implemented.
The project is heavy on general awareness as it seeks to capture most people with knowledge on REDD+, climate change and its linkage to human activities, including land use and the long-term impact on livelihood. This aside, it emphasizes ways of reducing the impacts of climate change on the lives of community people and strategies to adapt to the global menace.
Since ground implementation began in March 2018, the project has used radio as a means to complement other dissemination efforts to reach everyone in project communities, including the marginalized, women, youth, and migrants. Radio broadcasts feature a panel discussion and a five-episode drama series prepared in Twi, a vernacular, used by many in the targeted communities. A key segment of the broadcast is a phone-in session, which allows listeners to interact on the issues being discussed and share lessons and experiences.
“I had planned to remove five trees from my farm, but after listening to the DGM radio broadcast, I have resolved to preserve them”, says Opanin Ntiamoah, who phoned in from Nchiraa, a non-DGM project community. Woven into the fabric of the radio broadcast is a heavily-subscribed quiz competition that tests the knowledge and insight gained from the discussions and reward deserving winners from local communities. Winners of the competition have included not only persons living in DGM communities but also beyond.
“Radio is indeed getting us results as it helps us to reach our target communities and beyond.”
Months of the use of radio broadcasts for general awareness in local communities under DGM project implementation has taught Solidaridad more about the power of leveraging. Given the exciting responses from local communities beyond the project target areas, Solidaridad has sought to reach even more communities within the landscape through syndicated broadcasting. This comprises broadcasting directly from one source but connecting other radio stations within the area at the same time to leverage their reach, scope, and unique audiences.
“Today we are witnessing massive community interest in climate change discussions in the region, as listeners recognize that their livelihood depends on the knowledge gained from the broadcast,” says Samuel Addae-Boadu, DGM Project Coordinator for Western Region.
The use of DGM jingles and Live Presenter Mentions (LPMs) complement the radio drama episodes, panel discussions and audience phone-in sessions to make radio the most effective means of reaching the masses on climate change awareness in local communities.
Combating Climate Change Through Improved Tree Ownership
By Nathanael Okrah
“I cannot tend a tree seedling on my farmland and get nothing in return when it is harvested upon maturity.”
This has been the refrain of most farmers in local communities where the Ghana-DGM project is implemented. On-farm trees provide a lot of benefits such as shade to cash crops and stabilize the microclimate. Aside from the ecological benefits, trees can provide cash to farmers and improve their livelihood in the long term when they mature and are harvested.
Though farmers are well aware of these and other benefits, limited understanding of policies and tree tenure arrangements in Ghana does not encourage them to incorporate and/or tend seedlings that are growing on farms. “The farmer who has tended the seedling to maturity is disallowed the felling right unless he acquires a permit, which is tedious and dear to do,” says Nana Kwasi Bennie, a farmer in Adwumam in the Western Region. “A timber company would show up with harvesting permit and effortlessly remove all trees, and in the process damage food crops, sometimes, without paying any compensation for the damage,” he added. To avoid this, farmers kill trees as they mature albeit very much aware of the many benefits they provide to their farms and livelihood.
One of the surest opportunities for farmers to mitigate the impact of climate change is to incorporate trees on their farms to reduce the stress associated with the exposure of their food and tree crops to the sun. To provide assurance for the security and ownership of planted trees, the Ghana-DGM project, as part of its grant phase activities, will facilitate the registration of trees planted by farmers on their farms. This together with extensive tree tenure education will improve the extent of tree incorporation in farming.
Local Communities Receive Training on Climate Change and Land Use
The Ghana-DGM project places local communities at the center of decisions on climate change response and interventions they want to engage in, based on a proper understanding of climate impacts. This stems from the understanding that once communities gain enhanced capacity on the linkages between climate change and their land use practices, they take responsibility for their actions and put measures in place to ensure that response interventions work.
To this end, Solidaridad has stepped up basic training of all eligible community members in four out of five project cohorts, covering more than 20 communities within six months of project launch. The basic training is a key aspect of the project component that focuses on capacity building for local communities, which is to be implemented during the first two years of commencement.
The basic training is more structured and in-depth, dispensed in three modules, with emphasis on the relationship between unsustainable land use practices and their contribution to climate change. The training covers how local communities can mitigate and adapt to climatic changes with different strategies such as livelihood diversification, soil and water conservation measures, climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry, tree planting, drought-resistant cropping and reduction in unsustainable practices.
Conducted in Twi, the common vernacular and the official language of the Ghana-DGM project, key concepts and terminologies related to climate change, REDD+ and sustainable development are translated into simple words and phrases that community people can relate to.
The trainings are dispensed in interactive fashion that allows for audience participation, during which many share anecdotal accounts of how climate change manifests in their communities and its impacts on livelihood.
“Growing up, rains were more predictable and in copious amounts, serving our crops well. Now, however, the rains do not come when we expect them and when it falls, the amount is relatively low and this affects our crop yield ”, says Madam Akosua Kwaah, a nonagenarian in Hyireso community.
The strength of DGM trainings lies in the quality of climate change contents delivered in an interactive manner by well-trained field trainers. “Our field trainers are dexterous in applying photographs, cartoon illustrations, graphs, charts and storytelling in an interactive manner to touch the heart and minds of community people,” says Suzan Yemidi, Country Representative of Solidaridad in Ghana.
Between March and August of this year, almost 9,000 persons from 25 local communities have benefited from the basic training. About half of all beneficiaries are women, including migrants and youth who live in the project communities.
The aim of the basic training is to change behavior and encourage local communities to adopt climate smart practices that reduce their vulnerabilities. “Just when I was about cutting down a sapling close to my cashew tree, I remembered that I had learned only yesterday from the DGM training to preserve trees on my farm. Immediately, I rescinded my decision. I am happy that I was part of the training”, says Abubakar Sadik, a beneficiary in Babatorkuma community in the Brong Ahafo Region.
In many communities, turnout is high even after the first engagement. This has happened largely through careful engagement with community leadership including traditional leaders, leaders of subgroups, assembly members and/or community focal persons for their inputs when training schedules are drawn. Careful consideration is given to time preference of the various demographics including women, youth and adult males.
At dawn, scorching afternoons and night times, the project team meets communities’ preference for time and location, including churches, mosques, community centres and even funeral grounds—where the people may be found.
The Ghana-DGM project creates unique spaces for both women and men, including the marginalized and persons with disability to share views, either separately or jointly, whichever yields the best dialogue outcomes. This is done to allow each group to freely contribute ideas and voice out issues of concern without fear of ridicule or victimization.
The basic training equips communities to decide and prioritize climate change responses and interventions they want to engage in given limited resources. The prioritization is done in smaller groups to capture wide and varied views from groupings that share similar interest and aspirations to reduce undue influence.
Following this, all groupings are brought together in plenary for validation of responses. Based on this, the Ghana-DGM project will invest demand driven grants in climate-smart interventions that increase productivity, promote responsible land use practices and contribute to sustainable and resilient landscapes and livelihood.
The general awareness training in climate change under the Ghana-DGM project is expected to benefit about 11,000 people from 52 local communities in the Brong Ahafo and Western Regions where it is being implemented; while the basic training targets at least 10% of general awareness training participants.
Harnessing Partnerships for Effective Project Implementation
Solidaridad is harnessing strategic working partnerships with national and local institutions operating in areas where the Ghana-DGM project is being implemented for effective implementation and sustainability. These include the district offices of the Forest Service Division implementing the Forest Investment Programme, Municipal and District Assemblies, district offices of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) .
In Kintampo, for instance, the Forest District is closely involved in efforts to create awareness on climate change, deforestation and forest degradation during a radio segment procured by Solidaridad to promote mass sensitization at the landscape. Moreover, in that district, the Ghana DGM project and FIP have jointly trained community groups involved in the Modified Taungya System on climate change and land use.
Similar arrangements exist in other forest districts in the Western and Brong Ahafo regions. In these places, the district offices of MOFA, GNFS, and NADMO are also engaged where necessary.
In all District and Municipal Assemblies where DGM project implementation is taking place, Solidaridad has appropriately introduced the project to local government authority for support. In the Kintampo South District where one such engagement occurred, the district identified capacity needs and how the Ghana DGM project could align with the strategic environmental plans of the district. The Ghana DGM has demonstrated commitment in supporting the district with knowledge and capacity needed to fight bushfire, deforestation and forest degradation whilst promoting sustainable forest management, adaptive and sustainable land use practices. Solidaridad recognizes that effective engagement of all stakeholders in DGM project areas will ensure sustainability and achieve overall landscape transformation.
DGM and FIP Engage with Group Hunters on Bush Fires
The Ghana DGM project and the Forest Investment Programme have collaborated with the GNFS and NADMO to create awareness on the consequences of uncontrolled bush fires in the Kintampo and Nkoranza areas.
Situated in the transition zone of Ghana, the Kintampo and Nkoranza areas are prone to bush fires which wreak havoc on farmlands, forest areas and sometimes human lives and properties as a consequence. The situation is exacerbated by the activities of group hunters, popularly known as “Floaters” who set fire in bushes to trap animals.
“We are really suffering in the hands of the ‘Floaters’ who burn our farmlands in search of game. They are usually armed and deal brutally with anyone who dares stop them”, says Mercy Assaw, a resident of Nante near Kintampo.
To help address the challenge of rampant bush fires in the area, Solidaridad and the Kintampo Forest District, implementing the Ghana DGM project and FIP respectively, jointly held a meeting with the leaders of the group hunters. The meeting facilitated by the Ghana National Fire Service and NADMO aimed to provide indicators and guidance to the “Floaters” to minimize and ultimately halt the hunting-induced bushfires that affect local community livelihoods.
At the meeting, the group hunters appreciated how their activities and other land-use practices contribute to climate change and affect local people’s livelihoods. They, however, blamed the regular incidence of bush fires on farmers who practice slash and burn as they prepare their land for farming. Also mentioned for blame were nomadic herdsmen who intentionally set bush fires to promote regeneration of herbs to feed their herd.
Farmers Eager to Improve Farming Practices by Integrating Trees
Through the effort of the Ghana-DGM project, farmers are now more convinced about the benefits of incorporating trees on their farms, and thus, now more willing to integrate economic tree seedlings on their farms.
“Under a FIP-Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD partnership, our goal was to supply 700,000 tree seedlings to cocoa farmers in 2018. However, farmers were reluctant to plant the seedlings on their farms in spite of our initial awareness drive”, says Abdella Seidu Ali, Juaboso District Forest Manager. But all of that changed when the DGM project collaborated with the Sefwi Bodi District office of MOFA to offer in-depth training on climate-smart agriculture to cocoa farmers in selected communities within the district.
“The DGM intervention has been a game changer. To our surprise, farmers are now eager to plant the tree seedlings on their farms. We thank the DGM project for facilitating this transformation.”, says Abdella Seidu Ali.
With increased appreciation for the value of climate-smart agriculture, Community Focal Persons are now mobilizing trained farmers to receive free tree seedlings for planting.
“Continuing with a practice inherited from my parents, I did not want to plant any shade trees on my farm. But thanks to insights gained from the DGM training, today, I am planting tree seedlings on my farms and I am convinced that it will help me”, said 36 year old Sarah.
The Ghana-DGM project is an essential part of the Forest Investment Program (FIP), which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while reducing poverty and conserving biodiversity. The DGM activities complement other projects and programmes supported under FIP by strengthening community participation and understanding of climate change and REDD+ processes through knowledge strengthening and capacity building.
DGM Team Reviews Work Progress
Staff of Solidaridad West Africa involved in the Ghana-DGM project have reviewed progress of work in communities where project implementation is ongoing.
The Country Representative of Solidaridad in Ghana, Ms. Suzan Yemidi commended the project team for the commitment and high sense of professionalism that have contributed to the remarkable success chalked by the DGM project. She entreated the team to leverage the rich experience and expertise of Solidaridad in implementing other landscape projects.
Field coordinators reported on status of planned operational activities, highlighted challenges encountered and lessons learned and received feedback and suggestions for improving subsequent activities. The meeting mapped out strategies for rolling out the grant phase of the project, took monitoring and evaluation decisions and planned for upcoming activities.
The NSC Upbeat About Progress of the Ghana-DGM Project
The National Steering Committee (NSC) of the Ghana-DGM project has unanimously commended Solidaridad West Africa for the steady progress and superior results in DGM project implementation in the country.
“We are very satisfied about the steady progress Solidaridad is making on the ground and the high level of excitement the project is generating in most of our communities”, says Hayford Duodu, Chairman of the NSC. “With the result experienced so far, we can confidently conclude that the Ghana-DGM is a success story”, he added.
The NSC made the remarks when Solidaridad presented progress of work to members during its third meeting held in Kumasi on June 12, 2018. The NSC advised Solidaridad on dealing with specific challenges associated with project implementation.
The DGM project is unique in that, it gives oversight responsibility to community representatives who constitute the National Steering Committee. With their role in reviewing work plans, community proposals and progress of activities, and promoting learning among stakeholders in local communities, members of the NSC contribute to successful project outcomes.
Okyeame Kwame Engages Youth on Climate Change Through Contest
Rapper and Climate Change Ambassador under the Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism project, Okyeame Kwame redirects focus on climate action among the teeming youth, as he sets up a rap/poetry contest on climate change in Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Region.
“I recognize that many youth in Ghana have developed an appetite not just to consume rap music but also to do the genre”, says Okyeame Kwame. “As an ambassador, I consider this as an opportunity to spotlight climate change through music, and by setting up the rap and poetry contest, I seek to encourage budding rappers to do same”.
Mavis Adu-Gyasi, a nursing student, won the maiden contest with a poem recital. “I am not a rapper but I take interest in poetry. Having followed the DGM radio broadcast for weeks now, I felt I had been educated enough on climate change to participate in the contest”, said Mavis. “I am grateful to Okyeame Kwame and the public for the overwhelming verdict in my favor”.
As the ultimate prize, Mavis will do a piece with Okyeame Kwame on his next music album. This is beside the paraphernalia and cash prize she and other winners received.
Editors: Bossman Owusu, Suzan Yemidi, Winston Asante
Layout and Design: Bossman Owusu
Photos: Bossman Owusu, Jeffrey Opare Kwakye, Edward Kyereh, Gabriel Ahoma
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