PROTECTED COMMUNITY AREAS: A PARTICIPATORY STRATEGY COMBINING PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND GENDER PERSPECTIVE

Sambou Ndiaye, Ndeye Absa Diop

Abstract


This article discusses the experience of the protected community area of Sindia. Located in the region of Thiès, in the center of Senegal, the area groups together 19 villages and their respective 19 GIE des femmes (women’s cooperatives) for a total of 1325 people. It combines sustainable management of resources, promotion of gender equality, solidarity-based economy and poverty eradication. Poverty, deforestation and water erosion causing the disappearance of plant species useful for food and pharmacopoeia characterize this territory. Faced with this situation, local women mobilized with the support of the NGO ACCES and State services, to regenerate and develop a protected community area. Indeed, it was the women who mobilized the local government to sign a local convention aiming at entrusting them with the enhancement, regeneration and exploitation of those neglected lands.

The community initiative of forest regeneration has enabled women to gain access to land ownership for the first time and to significantly improve their income by producing and marketing local forest by-products. In order to safeguard their savings, the women –together with the technical and financial support of the NGO – set up 57 solidarity calabashes (rotary micro-credit mechanisms) which, in 2014, allowed them to mobilize an amount of  8 417 125 CFA francs (about 12,800 euros).

This experience is based on sustainable strategies, potentially replicable on a large scale, and suitable to promoting the sustainable management of natural resources and the revaluing of local products. Their exploitation is a sustainable source of income for women. Progress is also being made in the area of natural resource management and environmental protection.

The results of this experience can be appreciated at many levels. Apart from the environmental contribution, the experience of women in Sindia also has an important socio-economic impact. On the one hand, the protected community area has regenerated threatened plant species, has led to appearance of new fruit and medicinal species, the restoration of vegetation cover and the reinforcement of environmental awareness amongst the population. The experience has also reinforced the consideration given to women’s key role in the local development of their community and the interpersonal links between the members.

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