Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF), in partnership with two other groups, has embarked on what is dubbed the ‘Duapa Afforestation Pilot Project’ to restore the country’s lost forests with medicinal plants – a move that will provide the youth an alternative source of livelihood.
The project comes at a critical phase of Ghana’s national climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, which have seen the institution of an annual tree-planting day dubbed ‘Green Ghana Day’ since 2021.
YBF and its partners – If Not Us Then Who (a US-based organisation) and Nature4Climate, a conglomerate of 19 global climate-focused organisations – believe such a Day should not be narrowed down to just planting trees but must come with some opportunities for the youth to make a living; hence introduction of the project.
With regard to this, the project has planted Moringa, Prekes3 and Efomwisa seedlings on a one-acre land in Bowkrom in the Eastern Region.
A Medical Herbalist and Practitioner at the Nsawam Municipal Government Hospital, Dr. Prince Osei, encouraged the youth to take advantage of the opportunity the groups have provided; saying medicinal plants take a shorter time to mature and hence have the potential to provide regular income.
Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Kwame Acheampong, expressed delight with the youth groups’ initiative and urged them to keep supporting government’s climate agenda efforts.
“There is no telling what this project can achieve for Ghana if done right. We can take a step further from our national tree planting efforts to actually track the seedlings as they grow. I am elated that you chose the Eastern Region to pilot this project and I wish you the very best,” he said.
Communications Officer of Nature4Climate working on the project, Patricia De Matta, shared her thoughts on how the project will contribute to Ghana’s nature-based mitigation and adaptation measures.
“It is rewarding to see the real action happening on the ground. These young community members who are showing a high level of commitment and engagement are leading it. The Project also aligns to government’s Climate Agenda, and together with our partners and Youth Bridge Foundation we are here to support in this pilot and possible scale-ups across varied communities on the continent and in the world,” she said.
Adopting digital technology as a tool for plant management
In partnership with its international partners, YBF facilitated the transfer of a proven tech-enabled indigenous conservation and reforestation system to Bowkrom youth. Through this technology transfer, indigenous youth gained knowledge in using mobile phones to collect data, monitor, track plant growth and capture aerial views of landscapes to track changes on their degraded lands.
These youth, who hitherto had no experience in scientific research methods and data collection, are now able to use technology and indigenous knowledge to reclaim lost lands and monitor plants’ growth.
According to the Project Lead from Nature4Climate, Tom Berwick, the technology has been tested and used by indigenes in the Amazon Forest – Peru; and Ghana is the first African country to benefit from this technology transfer directly by the partners.
In acknowledging and emphasising the role, value and potential of digital technology in solving pressing cross-sectorial issues, Executive Director for YBF, Seth Oteng said: “From combatting global hunger to preserving nature, there is no doubting the limitless avenues we now enjoy because of technology…We can thus curb certain climate change concerns with it; especially as we rely on natural resources to supply certain basic needs that leave our environment vulnerable”.