How Conservation in Benin is Helping the Population
In subsistence farming, the people typically cut down trees to clear the land. They then burn the wood and use the land to plant their crops. Similarly, with subsistence fishing, the local population tries to catch as much fish as they can. They feed their families and they then sell the remaining fish for other food and essential goods and services.
In both instances, the local population is simply trying to survive. They pay little attention to how their actions are negatively impacting their surroundings. For the most part people are simply unaware of the damage that their actions are causing the environment.
In Benin, Africa, a concerted effort has produced some notable results. Projects were started that are aimed as assisting the local population. As part of those efforts, in a very poor corner of Benin, the local population was contacted. Barrend Asset Management started a project in 2008.
Over time, the locals were informed and warned about how their actions were impacting their surroundings. Slowly, the local population has come to appreciate that by cutting down the trees they are exposing the land to soil erosion and are potentially assisting in the creation of deadly landslides. They now understand that by burning the wood in open fields they are creating a pollution problem. They comprehend that their overfishing is depleting fish stocks. They were shown how pollution can negatively impact the air they breathe, the water that they drink and the food that they consume.
Additionally, local groups were formed and were assisted in setting up small businesses. The aim of these small projects is to provide the locals with jobs, with income and with food without damaging the environment.
Over the years, the local communities in this part of Benin have established groups to better manage their farming activities. For a more sustainable fishing operation, the locals have opted to establish fish farms. These fish farms are more productive, and they do not deplete local fish stocks.
Furthermore, with help from other specialists, the local groups have made some strides in going beyond primary food production. They have set up food processing systems that include the production of palm oil. To improve their agricultural efforts, they set up an efficient food transportation system so that fresh produce can be brought to nearby markets for sale. With regards to fish they have created fish processing outlets so that they can sell their fish products at higher prices and greater profit margins.
By utilizing the exiting land more carefully, the locals have made space for small vegetable gardens that help to feed them and their families. Some efforts have also been made to capture rainwater and to use the water for irrigation.
Many projects have been successfully implemented. Many more have already been initiated and still more projects are in the planning phase. The local population has come to realize that their efforts are good for the environment. Additionally, in working correctly they improve their own lives, they increase their incomes and they lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Barrend Asset Management is pleased with the progress and wishes these teams continued success.
Other parts of Benin have noted the improvements that have been achieved. There is a growing interest across the country for similar types of projects.