HomeCase StudiesEstablishment and capacity-building of committees from fourteen villages in the Koutouba district to combat bush fires and protect forests
Establishment and capacity-building of committees from fourteen villages in the Koutouba district to combat bush fires and protect forests
Koutouba, the site of our case study, is a sub-prefecture covering 14 villages. Koutouba is a large village located eighty-nine (89) kilometres from Bondoukou and seventy-six kilometres from Bouna. It is a transition climate zone, with pre-forest savannah vegetation.
The locality is very vulnerable to the current effects of climate change. Because of bush fires, this is often causing disasters ranging from the loss of cultivated fields to the destruction of infrastructure (homes, schools, storehouses, etc.). The project to combat bush fires and protect forests was based on a participatory approach and aimed to improve the resilience of the residents by setting up a committee to combat bush fires and protect forests in the 14 villages of Koutouba. The project focused on education through action, via capacity-building sessions designed to train and raise awareness, but also through practical actions for ‘planting’ operations, hence reforestation and development. The project was jointly conducted by the NGO JVE Côte d’Ivoire and the local communities, with the technical support of agents of the Côte d’Ivoire Parks and Reserves Office operating in the Bouna region and the Water and Forestry agents of the Koutouba district. The project took place over 6 months and was completed in December 2016. However, complementary actions have been carried out under the auspices of the Work Camp “All for the protection of the Comoé National Park”, which JVE Côte d’Ivoire was involved with, and with the support of national volunteers.
All fourteen villages in the sub-prefecture of Koutouba joined the project and mobilised resources (4 volunteers per village) to form the team for fighting bush fires. All the activities and operations related to the project have been fully entirely carried out by the communities, namely, the search for local species for reforestation, the preparation of the plots to be reforested, participation in the various reforestation and site development activities, and the acquisition of 2 Ha of land per village to build the nurseries. All the communities were actively involved in the various training and capacity-building sessions. The administration facilitated the project by mobilising all the customary authorities and the local population to be involved in the project, thus facilitating the access and integration of the various localities in the project.
The activities of the project involved young people and women. It should be noted that the reforestation activities were 80% carried out by women and young people. From the point of view of awareness raising, training sessions were directed towards women's groups because of some of their agricultural practices that increase the risk of bush fires (e.g. setting fire to a plot to clean it and prepare it for cultivation). As for young people, they are involved in hunting using methods that can lead to the risk of bush fires (e.g. during very dry periods using the hunting technique of setting fire to places deemed to be a shelter for animals).
The activities have been adapted according to changing priorities and the context of the community. For example, the "planting" operations in the various villages were carried out with local species and teak, which are beneficial for the communities. This has contributed to strengthening the forest cover of this area, which is highly exposed to the effects of climate change, hence the risk of disasters. These activities have enabled the communities to understand that protecting forest resources can contribute to improving the climate in their locality and reduce their exposure to the risk of bush fires. However, it is their responsibility to ensure that their environment is protected.
The initiative has strengthened the fight against bush fires in the area covered by the project, thanks to training and the acquisition of technical resources. It has also made it possible to define and establish a strategy for reforestation and development in the 14 villages in the project area.
Since the completion of the project, the risk of bush fires has been reduced. The communities have been able to strengthen their resilience by mobilising resources to increase the action of the committees fighting against bush fires and protecting the forest, with the help of the Water and Forestry agents of the Koutouba district. To date, we have noted a growing ecological awareness among the communities, which can be explained by their giving up certain cultural and hunting practices, which used to expose them to high risks of bush fires.
The lack of financial resources could constitute an obstacle to the actions of the existing committees, who risk giving up this task for the benefit of their economic activities. There is consequently a risk of demotivation arising from the lack of technical equipment which needs to be renewed over the time to make the committees effective.
Our organisation is in touch with state authorities and could work on establishing standardised approaches.