The government through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) should place any issue relating to forest on the “pro-poor agenda” to benefit the lives of those depending on it, the president of the National Charcoal Union of Liberia (NCUL) has proposed.
The NCUL president, Richard T.A. Dorbor, speaking recently during a program entitled, “Promoting Women and Community in Forestry Governance and Management in Liberia,” said, “I hope that under the pro-poor Government of President George Weah, there will be ‘pro-poor’ forest to improve the lives of those whose livelihoods depend on it. To protect the forest, all of us must take the cost and responsibility,” Dorbor said.
He said the “pro-poor agenda” should not only be heard or written, but should be made to impact the lives of those who depend on the forest for sustenance, which include logging, coal burning and farming.
To sustain the forest, Dorbor said the government and the leadership of the Charcoal Union need to discuss and resolve issues in the charcoal sector.
According to him, maintaining the forest requires access to land for inhabitants whose livelihood depend on the forest, which he said will help them to do reforestation.
Mr. Dorbor called on consumers to minimize the use of charcoal, “because the more demand for coal increases, the more the producers will cut down the forest trees.”
He said women continue to make maximum use of the forest in the production of charcoal; therefore, the union is taking into consideration the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Gender Equality and Reduction of Poverty.
Dorbor added, “We also help in generating domestic revenue for the government, which indicates that we have to work together to preserve the forest.”
About 25 Women from five counties who are involved in charcoal production, called on ActionAid-Liberia, the government and international partners to improve their lives and the lives of their children.
“For too long, Liberian women have suffered owing to societal beliefs, and so it is time for them to propagate issues relating to their welfare,” Florence Gaye from Grand Gedeh County said.
Madam Gaye said the lack of good road networks, especially farm-to-market roads, continue to make living conditions difficult for women whose livelihood depend on farming.
She said the Community Forestry Development Committee makes decisions and negotiates with partners in the absence of women, a situation, she said, was not contributing to women’s empowerment, particularly for those residing in the rural parts of the country.
Madam Gaye lauded ActionAid-Liberia for organizing the program with support from the European Union (EU) to train some of her colleagues on land rights, forest governance, management and how to get involved in decision-making processes related to the forest.
She called on stakeholders to consider women while drafting policies, especially land and forestry-related ones, to encourage many of them to move to the forested areas for sustenance.