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BIGGER IS BETTER: SURUDEV’s AMBITION FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN THE KOM WUM FOREST

Community participation is the key strategy to current biodiversity conservation and management. If wildlife and all the protected areas are to survive, it is imperative that conservation activities and communities are in harmony so that it does not constraint community livelihoods. For conservation of biodiversity to be realized effectively there is urgent need for integrative management that considers local communities’ stake in conservation.

SURUDEV believes in conservation with the community, by the community and for the community. Striking a balance between catering the livelihood needs and wise use of natural resources within the Kom-Wum forest reserve to ensure sustainability is one of the goal of SURUDEV which for over one year now has been working with the active support of international partners like the Arcus Foundation and the Global green Grants. Other national partners in this fight include: The Fundong Council and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife which have been combining efforts to restore the birds and Chimpanzee populations of the Kom-Wum forest reserve through research, education and habitat restoration with active participation from the local communities. It should be noted that this forest reserve is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna and the Nigeria- Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pt ellioti) which is currently classified as endangered on the IUCN red list.

SURUDEV has educated and raise awareness to over 2000 persons in villages surrounding the reserve and beyond. Also some 200 forest users ranging from hunters, farmers, traditional practitioners, have been trained and assisted in imparting technical support on agroforestry while providing them with alternative livelihood activities.

Believing that “Bigger is Better”, SURUDEV’s management team plans to increase the scope of the project so as to enable other 200 forest users to benefit and continue to live in harmony with nature around this forest reserve. SURUDEV is working to create new partnerships to enhance full conservation of this forest which remains a biodiversity montane hot spot in the western highlands of Cameroon.

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WHY SURUDEV WAS VOTED BEST ENVIRONMENTAL NGO IN CAMEROON BY THE SCOOPS MEDIA

It was on Thursday June 18 on the plaza of the Elongo Gardens Hotel that SURUDEV received the Prestigious Scoops award after being voted as best environmental non Profit in Cameroon for the year 2016 in Cameroon. This NGO has produced innovations in results-based approaches to agro-environmental actions that have been highlighted as good practices in rural development. This accolade came just to confirm what has been said.This is so because SURUDEV successfully ran and reported ten projects in the Bamenda highlands during the year 2015. These projects include: Sustainable water catchments management whereby some four water catchments in the Bamenda highlands were protected. The Second Project dubbed Trees for Generations was realized with the putting in place of a conservation plan for the protection of the sacred forests together with Traditional rulers. Some 1000 medicinal trees were planted in degraded portions of portions of the Luh sacred forest in Donga Mantung. The project was realized with the partnership of the Wimbum Students Union. This was during their 35th annual convention that took place in Luh village. 

SCOOPS ALL

In the domain of Sustainable Agro Forestry, SURUDEV also contributed enormously in building self-reliant communities in the Bamenda Highlands. 30 communities and 13 farming groups planted over 50.000 trees of economic values to sustain their activities. 

The forest gardening project also enriched lives in two communities in Donga Mantung Division. The Kungi and Bongom fish farmers were empowered on sustainable integrated fish breeding by including market gardening and fruit trees cultivation in their activities. 

Working with kids in schools in order to promote the nation of tree planting has also been on the agenda of SURUDEV. The SURUDEV green school project was implemented in Ako and in Mezam Division. This project which is aimed at promoting environmental education within secondary schools has created its impact in GBHS Down Town, GHS Nekwehne, GSS Banshie, GBHS Nitop and GBHS Bayelle where over 1000 trees were planted by students to mitigate the phenomenon of Climate Change. More so, SURUDEV also distributed over 1000 books to schools environmental clubs thanks to a donation from its partners from the United States of America. 

One of SURUDEV's innovative project that has attracted public attention was established and executed in Bongom village. The Sustainable Bio Farms recorded a success thanks to the efforts deployed by an experienced farm manager, Mungwa Victor. He used his wide experience under the supervision of SURUDEV to introduce water melon cultivation in Donga Mantung. The successes led to the cultivation of onions, okra, cucumber and huckleberry and more so, the bio farm is now a training centre for young boys and girls who want to take on market gardening as a reliable source of income. Besides, the sustainable livelihood programme also empowered and supported 30 widows in the Bamenda Highlands in sustainable farming. 

The bird conservation project was also carried out in Ako Sub Division within the Mbembe Forest Reserve periphery whereby stakeholders were sensitized and empowered in the protection of endemic bird species. These birds include the green breasted bush-shrike, the mountain greenbull, the bannerman's turacos etc. 

The Coordinator of SURUDEV, Kari Jackson says the communication and advocacy project now tops the chart given that it has provided them with the opportunity to sensitize the public on the community radios in the Bamenda highlands to get on the loop with environmental and climate change matters. Through this project, he said "we have also been able to produce our monthly ad e-newsletters". For more info visit www.surudev.org to have a tour of the bio demonstration farms which is serving as a training centre for youths and women. Harping on this year's activities, Kari added that " we are getting across all our other projects like last year with trees for the future, Pittsburgh Zoo amd PPG sustainability fund, the Sacramento Zoo and now the Global green grants".

The simplest explanation about why the environment matters is that, as humans, the environment-the Earth-is our home he says. "It is where we live, breathe, eat, raise our children, etc. Our entire life support system is dependent on the well-being of all of the species living on earth". It should be recalled that SURUDEV has won over 5 distinctions for doing extra ordinary things in protecting mother earth. Meet Kari Jackson and the first thing he will is that the deterioration of the environment, often referred to as environmental degradation, threatens the earth's natural resources such as clean water supply, fossil fuels for energy and food supply. Many of these resources he would always remind people are nonrenewable so when they run out the earth will be forced to find new alternatives. These new alternatives maybe difficult to function well reasons why we should act now if not the next generation will suffer. In schools, the key message to pupils and students is that the planet is in danger. According to SURUDEV, if we don't act now many to rescue species of animals and plants that are nearing distinction the clean water we drink to survive is at risk and more and more of our beautiful, open spaces are disappearing as new buildings and factories are built. 

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SURUDEV REPLACES OVER 500 EUCALYPTUS TREES WITH WATER LOVING TREES IN RONG VILLAGE WATER CATCHMENTS

Water remains life. It is against this backdrop that SURUDEV launched her water catchment project five years ago. With over 20 water catchments supported in Cameroon, SURUDEV went further with a memorandum of understanding with Wimbum Students union to conserve Wimbum water catchments and secret forests on an annual basis. This year’s trip took both teams to Rong Village in Ndu sub division of Donga Mantung Division. With four water catchments threatened, SURUDEV planted one of them with over 500 bee loving, medicinal trees and water loving trees namely: Acasia, Leucaen a, Casia, Prunus africana and Grevillea robuster. Under the watchful eyes of SURUDEV’s executive Director and SURUDEV’s programs coordinator Tansi Will Tansi, the indefatigable Kari Jackson who left no stone on turned to supervise the three day event from the 11th to the 13th of August 2016. Students were schooled on the importance of tree planting not only to guard water but also as a climate change mitigation tool and other social needs. It should be recalled that more than 50, 000 trees have been planted in 20 water catchments in Cameroon by SURUDEV.Talking during the tree planting process, the Fon of Rong lauded the initiative of SURUDEV and reminded his community of the need to fell down environmentally unfriendly trees such as precariously planted eucalyptus which were to be replaced with Grevillea robuster, and the need for no encroachment to save water bodies for posterity. He pledged to sustain planted trees under the supervision of SURUDEV. On his part, the WISU president Mr. Ngwan Derick Tawe Nyah could not hide his feelings about the aptness of SURUDEV in supporting community needs. HE further pledge WISU’s willingness to cooperate in order to raise Mbum land to be part of the Sustainable Development Goal. Like Oliver twist, he asked for more during the upcoming WISU convention in Nwangri village. Over 500 students took part in this event including Rong Village elites.

It should be recalled that Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) is a non-profit, non-denominational, and apolitical organization that was created in 2007 against the backdrop of persistent environmental issues in the Bamenda highlands in particular and Cameroon in generalwhose efforts initially focused on addressing climate change and its impacts on ecosystem, economies and communities of the rural Bamenda.To restore and rejuvenate the degraded ecosystem, SURUDEV with the active support of local communities, students and volunteers started large scale plantations of forest species, especially in the highlands of Bamenda.SURUDEV firmly believes that community participation in planning, implementation and monitoring plays a critical role in ensuring sustainability of development projects in the long run. Therefore, a series of awareness camps have been organised with emphasis on forest protection and sustainable natural resource management at the village level. Prime focus has also been given to sensitization and empowerment of women as they play a key role in management and control of natural resources. To promote ownership of the program, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) were also established and capacitated with regular training, workshops and exposures.Within a span of just 9 years of the history, SURUDEV has achieved several tangible milestones in ensuring livelihood, food, and nutritional security through promoting sustainable agriculture, and climate smart crops among the rural farmer’s communities. The success are even more phenomenal in conserving biodiversity, protecting forest resources and endangered wildlife, promoting value and right based education among children, youths, adults at family and community levels for inclusive development.

Gradually, all these initiatives taken up by SURUDEV has drawn attention at the local, regional and national levels and well appreciated. Several national and international organisations have come forward to provide the much needed support to SURUDEV to carry on its development mission. With the awards of USD 1500 from the ‘Intelligent use of water Awards (Rain Birds)’ based in the USA, it was supported to form farmer’s group in the highlands to plant trees with an aim to revitalise denuded landscapes for agriculture, check soil erosion and boost soil health. With partnership from ‘Trees For the Future’, USA, and the Country Representative in Cameroon, the plantation program was raised to a full agroforestry project resulting in plantation of around 50,000 trees yearly.

Some of the tangible achievements of SURUDEV:

  • 150 rural women were trained and supported for sustainable livelihood;
  • 20,000 youths and students were trained and sensitised on importance of environmental conservation. More than 20,000 trees were planted with the help of these students;
  • 40 water catchments areas were developed and protected;
  • Two forest areas comprising 20,000 hectares has been conserved;
  • Provided alternative livelihood support to 200 forest users;
  • Two MoUs were signed with two councils to jointly protect water catchments areas to support rural farmlands;
  • 4 hectares of Sustainable bio-demonstration farm has been developed in Bongom Village, Donga Mantung Division.

The initiatives of SURUDEV have been recognized and published by numerous reputed media like The Guardian Post, The Eden Newspaper, The Eye Newspaper, The Scoops, and many more. SURUDEV have received several recognitions from the media. These include:

  • Guardian Post: Best NGO of the Year 2015.
  • The eye Newspaper: Best results oriented Organization of the year 2015.
  • The Lifetime Press Award as Best Organization proficient in the fight against Climate Change.
  • The Scoops Newspaper: Best Environmental Ngo of the year 2016
  • The World Echoes Press awards: Best Grass root Development Organization of the year 2016

We invite all concerned individuals and development institutions, agencies to extend support to the underprivileged communities for a just and equitable world, and save our planet from unsustainable consumption, and the looming hydra of climate change.

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SURUDEV’s FIGHT FOR SDG 2 (NO HUNGER)

In developing countries like Cameroon and other African countries, agriculture remains the backbone of their economies. Man’s constant drive to increase food production in these countries to feed households, food security should be a concern of all forces in the society. This can be done in Cameroon by being in touched with the agricultural technicians whose posts are found in all decentralized council areas across the national triangle and some NGOs that work in partnership with them. This is in a bit to make use of their expertise which lies idle in those posts. This will help farmers acquire high yielding seeds, know what can be cultivated on a particular piece of land, when to cultivate , how to cultivate, what to cultivate till the crop finally gets ready for harvesting, consumption, preservation for further use and for marketing purposes. Cameroonians in most areas are involved in agriculture 7/7 and still suffer from famine because of the poor farming methods and if most of us revise our technics, farming will not only take care of home needs/ family needs but will save lives of destitute children in hunger stricken parts of the world and in the ever increasing refugee camps across the world today Cameroon not being an exception.

Many are involved in peasant farming where a given piece of land is cultivated over and over; soil nutrients washed away and organisms which live in these soils are killed. This is because the soils are exposed to erosion and drought due to our conducts even burning with the mentality that we want to increase yields. This repeated process on a piece of land without leaving it to fallow and given that land is a scarce commodity leaves our farms barren no matter the effort put in, productivity remains low.

Dear farmers, organic manure from our houses can do great magic. Our wastes from our houses should be selected and thrown in our farms, dung from cows, fowls, pigs, goats and even grass from the farms can make good fertilizing agents there by improving on our farm yields. With other inorganic manure which should strictly be applied following instructions from agricultural technicians will make the farmer an employer and cause lots of attraction towards his profession.

The development of our agriculture which starts with farmers by using appropriate technics at the appropriate time, fast tracks agricultural productivity where food production will feed the available mouths and also the food produced will not have side effects. Hence, sustaining agriculture and not robbing posterity of its own dues from our humble contributions.

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PROTECT OUR WATER SOURCES PROTECT LIFE.

One of the factors that greatly influences human settlement in a given geographical region is the availability of water sources. This is because water as we commonly say is life.

This is further buttressed by the book of wisdom which shows the importance of the precious liquid from the beginning of creation. This is mentioned there a number of times as the only resource that filled the earth and when we flip through the pages of that sacred book, water was at the center of everything. Sources such as wells were highly regarded as wealth for inheritance, springs, rivers …to drink, water animals. Water equally served security purposes because an enemy could not easily attack when separated from his rival by seas and rivers such as Red Sea, Jordan. It was also used for farming as fishermen lived through their daily activities in the seas. Water was a means of transport and medicinal.

From the above analogies, the importance of water has always been a prime factor to determine man’s decision to settle on a given geographical region across the globe. It is for this reason that we must jealously keep our water sources such as streams, springs, wells, rivers and you continue the list.

This precious liquid nowadays has frequently been intoxicated and contaminated there by making life uneasy for those living and going about their activities around them. Many dispose their wastes into streams and equally carry out unhealthy practices close to water sources such as cultivation of tree species and crops that tend to draw out much water from the soils, expose the areas to much sun. These activities cause our rivers to run dry and making life difficult for living creatures that depend on them for life. It affects life in that homes lack portable water, farmers too who irrigate their crops are affected leading to food insecurity, energy supply is hampered due to a drop in water level to turn the machines that generate electricity.

With all these problems highlighted above, SURUDEV has embarked on aggressive water project dubbed “SUSTAINABLE WATER CATCHMENT PROJECT” which protects some 15water catchments in Bamenda highlands, North West Region of Cameroon where water crises has been rocking the regional capital for some time now.