Combating poverty, drought and causes of flight with biodiversity


The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought prompted the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) to use funds from the Otto Group to help two local non-governmental organizations – REDERC-ONG and OeBenin – to set up an eco-center in Benin in West Africa. The eco-center with adjoining library and teaching center shall improve the living conditions of the rural population in the region of Tanguiéta, to halt the progression of climate change, to preserve the heritage of the people for future generations, and to combat causes of flight.

The people living in rural Africa in particular depend on the land for their livelihood. Some 135 million people – as many as live in Germany and France put together – are at risk of becoming refugees as the fertile land turns to desert. About 60 million people will most probably have to leave the arid regions in sub-Saharan Africa and flee to North Africa and Europe.
It was this plight, which prompted the idea of the eco-center. It is about protecting biodiversity and preserving soil fertility in order to bring hope to prospective generations of a future in rural Benin and to set in motion a learning process for improved living conditions in harmony with nature. These are the aims of the new center, which has just opened in Tanguiéta in the north of Benin in West Africa. The Aid by Trade Foundation is supporting the project with surplus funds from a project grant donated by the Otto Group.
The project target in particular women and schoolchildren. They will be key to the success of the project in spreading the word and sharing their knowledge. The vision is that they will become ambassadors for environmental protection. It is therefore essential to work with the local schools and with women’s groups. Schoolchildren and women will learn how to plant trees. At the same time, the women will be trained how to earn extra income for themselves and their families by growing vegetables and fruit trees and processing the crops. The background aims of both projects are to encourage the village folk to adopt a more sensitive approach to nature and to show the rural population how additional income can be generated while still protecting the environment.

About REDERC-ONG and OeBenin
The Réseau de développement des réserves naturelles Communautaires (REDERC) and the NGO OeBenin work in the north of Benin with schools and women’s groups in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, helping to spread the cultivation and use of organic farming products (vegetables, soya) and the planting of local fruit trees, such as mango, tamarind, baobab and shea. In addition to improving biodiversity, the extra income earned by the women helps to improve school enrollment rates among the children.
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