ABN partners united for biodiversity in Benin
ABN and her partners from 14 countries recently converged in Ouidah, Benin, to validate project documents and launch various work tools that support the actualization of the ABN philosophy. The hybrid participation approach allowed various attendees to participate through streaming services as other competing tasks hampered physical attendance for all. Venter Mwongera, ABN’s Communication and Advocacy Coordinator, shares the news from the meeting.
Partners came from Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe to attend the meeting held from the 13-18 March. These partners will be together implementing a three-year project titled Conserving Bio-Cultural Diversity through Strengthening Community and Ecosystem Resilience in Africa with financial support from the Swedish International Development Corporation (SIDA). Benin-partners CEVASTE and Nature Tropicale ONG hosted participants.
The meeting offered a chance for partners to reflect on the project, plan the way forward and launched the ABN’s Strategic Plan 2022-2026, the SEWOH’s (for a world without hunger) Seed Catalogue, the end of project’s documentary (2019-2021) titled Reviving Seed System in Africa to End Hunger, and the ABN’s refurbished website.
The CEVASTE team, led by Director Mere Jah, treated the attendees to sumptuous vegan meals that left the participants well-nourished and wanting seconds. Pupils of Ecolojah School, founded and managed by the CEVASTE directors Mere Jah and Pere Jah, reminded the participants at the meeting about the school’s philosophy of conserving biodiversity through sustainable approaches to feeding the current and future generations. These are part of the topics taught in the school.
A leader of Segbanou community, one of the three communities implementing the SEWOH project under CEVASTE, explained to the partners the immense benefits of the SEWOH project. They have managed to recuperate lost indigenous seeds and improve their families’ nutrition, improve their livelihoods, and restore the soil fertility. The community was full of praise for the opportunity to work with ABN through CEVASTE and honoured the ABN board members, the Secretariat, Ayele Kibede from SIDA and the network partners attending the meeting to plant a tree on their demonstration farm during the field visit.
Mere Jah told the attendees that the three communities that worked under the SEWOH project recovered 46 local seeds and had intensified the search to reach 75 seeds now available at the seed bank in Tori, a bank that is shared by the three communities. Nature Tropicale ONG took participants to the Mangroves, Bird Islands and the turtle conservation centre, held meetings with the women group of salt workers, visited the mouth of the Bouche du Roy, Nature Tropical Environmental Education Center, fishers, and Eco-guards, held dialogues on culture conservations with traditional leaders such as custodians of Nature and religious elders.
These visits broadened the understanding and deepened the appreciation of the diverse activities communities and partners engage in to conserve bio-cultural diversity. The visit and interactions demonstrated the experiences of the communities on using resilient approaches, conservation, protection of their sacred natural sites, and the conservation of the turtles in the Nature Tropicale ONG conservancy.
A highlight of the event was when participants took part in releasing young turtles into the Atlantic Ocean as a seed of continuity of the population of the turtles. Mere Jah appreciated the passion of the partners and their determination to continue the philosophy of the ABN. She stated, “Coming together to discuss various approaches of nature conservation and restoration of biodiversity is a noble cause.
It is important because great things happen when people come together for a common purpose.” ABN partners from Garbon, Roudridge Miido of Muyissi, said, “Living in harmony with nature, reforestation, identification of one’s place in nature rather than cutting down trees are some of the approaches that continue to mitigate the crises of the changes of climate. This is one of the messages that remain at the back of my mind.”
Dr. Sulemana Abudulai, the Chairman of ABN appreciated all the partners in the network for their commitment to the philosophy of ABN. “It is important to walk the talk and accompany the communities in the journey of recuperating and preserving the indigenous seeds for improved food security while also conserving biodiversity.” He advised.
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