The Fazao-Malfabassa National Park, 381 kilometres from Lomé in Togo, is being rehabilitated through eco-responsible activities carried out over the past three years with the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The initiative focused on the protection of Togo's largest natural site has helped to improve the living conditions of local populations through the development of sustainable crafts.
In Togo, climatic hazards threaten the 592 plant species in the Fazao-Malfabassa National Park (PNMF) located in the Kara region. These include Afzelia africana, Albizia ferruginea, Cordia platythyrsa, Khaya senegalensis, Khaya grandifoliola, Mallotus oppositifolius and Milicia excelsaa, all of which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In this context, the natural site covering an area of 1,920 km2 has benefited from the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme implemented between 2019 and 2022 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in partnership with the Togolese Ministry of the Environment and Forest Resources. “People draw on their environment to ensure their food and water security. However, rapid population growth and irrational exploitation of resources have accentuated the fragility of ecosystems,” says the UN agency based in Paris, France.
According to the UNESCO regional coordinator for West Africa, investments have been made in the development of sustainable crafts, particularly in beekeeping, shea nut processing and ruminant breeding, with the aim of increasing the income of 620 households organised into 28 cooperatives. “Given that pachyderms have a deep fear of bees, beekeeping could prevent crops from being trampled by elephant herds and villagers from coming into conflict with them,” explains Enang Moma.
Accelerating sustainable development
In addition, the activities around the PNMF have curbed poaching as potential poachers have been equipped with skills in sustainable livestock farming and ecotourism. For her part, Afissa Ibrahim, the president of the Fazao village cooperative, believes that the recovery of shea kernels has reduced the felling of these trees, which are often used by rural communities for charcoal production.
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At a total cost of US$970,000 (591.4 million CFA francs), financed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), MAB has also trained Togolese girls in equipment handling and environmental management in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5), which calls for gender equality. Moreover, the latter will assist scientists and local authorities in the elaboration of “the candidature of the Fazao-Malfabassa National Park to be designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO”.