By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a steadfast commitment to combat climate change and uplift rural communities, Global Youth Counterpart for Sustainable Sierra Leone (GYC-SL), formerly known as Youth in Action for ICT and Transformation (YAICTT), has initiated an Environmental Protection project funded by the UNDP GEF Small Grant Programme. The project aims to benefit both rural and urban poor communities, specifically targeting CO2 emissions in households within Koinadugu District, with a focus on Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom.
The objectives of this ground-breaking project include enhancing the capacities of rural communities to respond positively to climate change, reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions in selected communities, and providing skills training for the production of ELSA/KILN STOVE and biochar.
During the project launch, Abdul Karim Marah, the Executive Director of GYC/YAICTT, underscored the project’s significance in contributing to ongoing efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, emphasizing that the project serves as a poverty reduction strategy for rural and urban communities in Koinadugu District, promoting the fabrication and use of Elsa Stoves instead of traditional charcoal and fuel wood for cooking.
He highlighted the detrimental impact of using fuel wood and charcoal on women and children’s health, pointing out that this project could prevent climate change by protecting forests and curbing wood collection, emphasizing the inefficiency of using solid fuel in traditional cooking fires and its contribution to environmental problems such as deforestation, soil erosion, air pollution, and global warming.
Moreover, Abdul Karim Marah stressed the long-term consequences of increased global warming on development and economic activities. The project aims to introduce ELSA/Kiln stoves and biochar energy to communities, promoting sustainable energy management practices, improving climate resilience, supporting rural livelihoods, and contributing to overall environmental management.
He assured community stakeholders that the project would adopt a systemic approach, involving key elements such as popular participation, stakeholder interaction, structural coordination, capacity building, networking, and partnerships with organizations implementing similar projects.
The Executive Director emphasized the central role of women and youth in the project’s implementation and monitoring, focusing on building women’s leadership skills, fostering good governance, and employing participatory learning techniques to encourage positive behavior change towards climate change.
In conclusion, he stated that the project is in its pilot phase and urged community stakeholders and beneficiaries to take their roles seriously for the project’s successful outcome.
The District Chairman of Koinadugu District, Lawrence T. Kargbo committed to supporting the project from the pilot phase to full implementation.
Finally, the Paramount Chief of Wara WaraYagala Chiefdom, PC. Gbawuru Mansaray III thanked the YAICTT team for the initiative, expressing gratitude to UNDP for their continuous support. He urged community commitment to the project’s success in subsequent phases.
Other stakeholders including the District Agriculture Extension Officer for Koinadugu District, Bernard F. Kamara, District Youth Chairman for Koinadugu District, Alhaji S. Koroma, the Town Chief, Kolleh Marah, etc. also made statement at the launching.