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Safety First!

Barely after 16 months of implementing the Darwin Initiative-funded project ‘Enabling rural poor to help protect biodiversity of Dja, Cameroon’, the communities living in the 17 villages of the northern buffer zone involved in fish farming have built a lot of trust in the team and are willing to engage fully in the protection of biodiversity in the Dja Landscape.

These communities demonstrated their readiness and willingness by voluntarily signing Reciprocal Environmental Agreements (REA, - watch this blog space for an update soon). A total of 81 fishermen and women signed formal agreements on 26th and 27th July 2018.

One of the most important elements of the project was to help the local people make their own safety jackets; the Dja river conditions can be challenging throughout the seasons and safety of the fisher-people is paramount. The project team are highly impressed with the creativity and effort of the local people in creating those amazing buoyancy aids pictured here.

Some of the local fishermen with their home-made buoyancy aids

At the REA signing event, spoke persons of each of the four fishing areas (Groupe Initiative des Communautaire, GIC) expressed the feeling of the local people in regards to the projects implementation approach and also their appreciation of the types of alternatives that has been proposed to them.

Some of the testimonies from fishermen and women who were at the signing ground:

“This is the first of its kind. We are happy to have projects which are realistic”

“We are now convinced the project has come to remove us from poverty”

“The type of exchange that I have had with the project team guarantees me of their honesty and sincerity.”

“At last, we are going to benefit. We were feeling abandoned. Thanks for coming to change our situation.”

“We have read the REA document over and over and we are convinced it is not meant to incriminate us.”

“We are happy to know that even after the signing of the REA, the project team will still be there to accompany us.”

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