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ECOWAS to take over the regional programme for the integrated development of the Fouta Djallon highlands

Abuja, 28 March 2017. In line with its mandate of ensuring social and economic development of West Africa, ECOWAS has re-launched` the process which will see the African Union Commission transfer responsibility of the Fouta Djallon Highlands to it.

In the build up to a handing over ceremony which is expected to take place in June 2017, a series of internal coordination meetings comprising of the ECOWAS Department for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources and other relevant Directorates have been held.

Also constituted is a technical committee of experts which have put in place a roadmap and modalities to ensure the actualization of the transfer of Fouta Djallon Highlands programme.

The Regional Program for the integrated Development of the Fouta Djallon Highlands (RPID/FDH) was first launched in the wake of the drought in the Sahel region during the early 70s by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union- AU).

In his remarks during the coordination meeting on 24th March 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria, the ECOWAS Director of Environment, Dr.Johnson Boanuh represented by Mr. Bougonou Djeri Alassani stated that, the transfer of the program was necessary as the FDH is fully located in West Africa and is de facto a heritage of the region.

This he said informed the decision of the 73rd Ordinary Session of the OAU council of Ministers approving the ‘Principle of Transfer of Responsibility’ of the RPID/FDH to ECOWAS and was subsequently confirmed by the African Union Commission (AUC) during the 3rd Ordinary session of the Council of Ministers, held in July 2003.

Modalities to ensure the transfer of the program began officially in 2014, but the implementation of the roadmap was hindered due to the Ebola outbreak in the region.

The AUC and ECOWAS have agreed to organize joint coordination meetings to discuss administrative issues related to the transfer of responsibilities for the program as well as a joint meeting of the partners (United Nations Environment Programme, Global Environmental Facility, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

The Fouta Djallon Highlands also known as the West African ‘Water Tower’ is located in the centre of the Republic of Guinea and extends into Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Mauritania. It also serves as a source for major international rivers in West Africa.

However, during the last decades the Fouta Djallon Highlands were also strongly affected by climate variability and climate change which impact adversely the agrosylvopatoral productions activities and the forest ecosystems conservation. .

The RPID/FDH was tasked to ensure the protection and efficient use of the natural resources of the FDH with the aim of improving the livelihoods and strengthening the resilience of the inhabitants of the highlands.

This will include the reforestation of upstream areas of the rivers, the fight against forest fires, irrigation in lowlands, soil conservation in sloppy landscape and the construction of cattle parks amongst others.

Furthermore, the RPID/FDH will embark on income generating activities such as the production of vegetables through the provision of equipment and the training of cereal and rice processing to target groups such as women.

The Program which is based in Guinea is currently funded by the AUC and supported by the Integrated Natural Resources Management Project of the Fouta Djallon Highlands (IRMP-FDH) funded by the contribution of the GEF, UNEP while the project itself is being implemented by the FAO.

 

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