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Collaboration for long term success

Last week in Cameroon, Paul participated in the first ever Lebialem Platform on Conservation and Sustainable Development (LPCD). This meeting, which we sponsored with our partner EruDEF, brought together organizations working in the Lebialem Valley.  The goal of this cooperative platform is to open communication, share skills and encourage complementary approaches. This was the first step on a long road to collaborative action, but it exemplifies Breaking Ground’s emphasis on developing partnerships with local nonprofits to ensure the sustainability of our work.

Sustainability is a buzzword that has been overused in its promotion of new consumer goods. But when we at Breaking Ground discuss sustainability, we are generally referring to the ability of our work to endure. Sustainability, like empowerment, is central to our work.

We believe that sustainable projects grow organically over time and have community wide support. Sustainable projects use local materials and technology, and they involve working with communities to ensure that there is a management committee or maintenance plan.

We ensure sustainability by training Cameroonians such as Chymène, our Women's Entrepreneurial Program (WEP) instructor in Dschang. We also work side by side with organizations like GADD, which already manages the day-to-day administration of the WEP, so the program will ultimately run independently of our oversight. The WEP is designed so that, after three or four years, the loan aspect of the program will be financially independent, able to continue providing loans to female entrepreneurs without further investment from us.

Though environmental sustainability is not our primary focus, we partnered with EruDEF as we began working in the Lebialem Valley, in order to ensure that our agricultural programs are done responsibly and complement the work of organizations that are striving for conservation in the region. Likewise, EruDEF understands that if conservation comes at the price of local livelihoods, or is seen as being indifferent to the needs of the communities who live on the outskirts of the resource-rich forest, then their conservation efforts will not be supported by those communities and will not endure in the long term.

It is our collective challenge to improve the quality of life of the people of Folepi, Nkong, and the neighboring communities, while also protecting an area of unparalleled biodiversity. How is this possible? By supporting small-scale and diversified farming practices that use already cultivated land, by ensuring that the boundaries of new conservation areas take into account the existing fields and homes of community members, and by providing access to processing equipment which increases the value of existing crops.

The importance of viewing ecological conservation and economic development as complimentary goals, is the focus of Man & Nature, who provided the $10,000 grant to support our nurseries. It is with these goals in mind, that Breaking Ground sponsored last weeks LPCD meeting and will continue to foster open dialogue.

Having opened this post with a photo of collaboration at the administrative level, I want to close with a photo of women working together in Folepi, which exemplifies the spirit of cooperation that permeates all levels of our work and will ultimately ensure the long term effectiveness of our programs.


Reader Comments (1)

Excellent report! Keep up the great work!

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

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