In Ivory Coast, Earthworm Foundation is working with rural communities, particularly the wives of cocoa and rubber farmers living near forests reserves in Cavally.
Their contribution is at the heart of work to promote healthy forests and prosperous communities. The aim is to empower them and their spouses to take ownership of forest conservation by developing income-generating activities that do not harm forests.
Helping develop income-generating activities
The Cavally Forest Reserve is located in the Cavally region, in western Ivory Coast. This forest spans across 67,593 hectares and is home to endangered species such as chimpanzees and pygmy hippopotami. The baseline map of the forest – developed in 2018 with Airbus through the Starling satellite monitoring platform – showed that more than 40 percent of this forest is degraded.
In July 2020, Earthworm Foundation began partnering with Nestlé, the Ivorian Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF) and the Ivorian forest agency (SODEFOR) to conserve and restore the Cavally Forest, as well as develop the resilience of surrounding communities. Women play an important role in this project and have formed two groups in Bocanda 2 and Zagné-Djirahi. These women's groups are in charge of producing tree seedlings to reforest degraded areas.
"The Bocanda 2 women's group is made up of 30 people, including two men. In 2022, we signed a contract with them to produce 10,000 seedlings for reforestation. In addition to theoretical and practical training in seedling production, they can sell seedlings for 170 CFA francs each – 70 CFA francs for seedling production and 100 CFA francs as profit," said Elie Soungalo, Earthworm Foundation field officer.
The profits from this enables the women to develop other sources of income in parallel.
"Before, we thought that it was only cocoa or rubber that would earn us money. Earthworm helped us get together to develop other activities. With profits from the seedlings, we bought equipment to grow aubergine," said Kouamé Amenan Suzanne, President of the Bocanda 2 women's group.
At the Zagné-Djirahi women's group, they are trying to grow and market snails.
"In the Cavally region, snails are prized by the population. Unfortunately, the collection of snails in plantations and protected areas does not satisfy consumers. This is why the women have decided to start producing and marketing snails with the income from the tree seedlings," explains Soumayla Kané, Earthworm Foundation field officer.