The background: a changing environment
In the coastal Sierra Leonian town of Lungi, our YMCA partners have been supporting an initiative to plant and tend to mangrove trees in conjunction with the local people. Lungi, which is separated from the country’s busy capital Freetown by a stretch of the sea, is incredibly vulnerable to drastic changes in weather patterns and the communities living there have suffered as a consequence.
David is the Project Co-ordinator for YMCA Lungi and he has been instrumental in developing the initiative to plant and tend to mangrove trees in Lungi.
‘The community already had natural mangrove trees in their community and so our input was to offer to help the community expand and plant more because of how much the community relied on the mangroves. So together, we would take young seedlings from the natural mangrove trees and then plant them so that more could grow here.’
‘This work is very important to communities because the mangrove trees are their main source of livelihood. They fish from this water and they also use the mangrove trees for wood and therefore cooking. This shows how much the community in Lungi depends on the mangroves and why the implantation of the project was so important’.
Resilience for the future
The mangrove trees don’t only offer more wood for cooking or more fish for eating but can serve as a vital barrier for communities against drastic weather patterns:
‘The mangrove trees protect the community from the heavy wind but also from flooding. Flooding happens in this community on a regular basis, especially during the rainy season when the rain comes at such a high velocity the area can become incredibly flooded. When there are plenty of mangrove trees here, they form a barrier and protect the community. This is very important for the community’.
Climate change: a challenge for every household
Adamsay is a young local woman involved in the mangrove planting project. Like David, she recognises how important this work is to protecting her home and community against the impacts of the climate:
‘I got involved in this work because I didn’t want the heavy winds to destroy our homes. The wind can be so strong that it can destroy our community and so that’s why I wanted to get involved in this work. So that I could help to protect my environment.’
Adamsay speaks of how important the project is to her and her community:
‘The mangroves are our source of livelihood. We know that as we see them grow we will have more fishes. More fish means more food which means more opportunities to feed our children. So we are very happy about it’.
A lesson for all generations
Because of YMCA’s involvement in this mangrove project in Lungi, more people like Adamsay are gaining skills and experience in growing and tending to mangrove trees. This vital work does not end with teaching one group, these skills are important lessons for all within the community:
‘I will pass on my new knowledge of mangrove planting to my children. I will plant more mangroves with them because it’s something they should continue to do. They will do the same work we are doing now.’
Discover more about the mangrove planting project, and how it has enabled community-led transformation for young people, with the video below: