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One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) is happy to announce a new grant support from the British Ecological Society (BES) to implement a Conservation Education project in Iwuopom community, Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria.

A lot of us are well-familiar with the diverse water bodies, species, habitats and ecosystems of the Niger-Delta region which are equally inhabited by several communities that have long found their source of livelihood in the area. However, the region’s conservation and sustainability is highly under threat due to excessive hunting/poaching of land and aquatic wildlife (including threatened species) for consumption and game. In this year alone, there have been several media reports that sadly, described killings of wildlife aquatic animals including a giant leatherback turtle, a sea lion, and several large fishes. This also include the infamous widespread dead fish kills across ocean and river banks in several Niger-Delta communities (including Iwuopom community); which is yet to be resolved till date. Other contending issues that threaten the community’s biodiversity include over-fishing, bush burning for intensive agricultural practices and firewood production, indiscriminate dumping of biological household and effluent waste, and crude oil drills and spills.

We have established that one of the major reasons for these debilitating issues is due to an underlying lack of knowledge and understanding on the need for conservation and environmental sustainability by resident community members. Therefore, we have identified the need for community-based education and awareness on sustainable conservation and environmental health practices that would empower the community inhabitants with knowledge and information on how to sustainably care for their environment and species, while conducting their livelihood and agricultural practices without debilitating long-term damage to their environment.

The BES grant will be utilized to train and build the knowledge and capacity of key stakeholders of Iwuopom Community on conservation science, enlighten them on the ideals and benefits of conservation and provide them with practical on-site teaching on integrating marine conservation, environmental management, and conservative agricultural practices for sustainable livelihood. Our target beneficiaries include community members whose actions (or inaction) directly impact conservation in the community such as fishermen, fishnet and boat makers, fish processors, wood loggers and farmers. We would promote education and appreciation of ocean/water biodiversity, marine conservation science, marine pollution and waste management, conservation agriculture and even tree planting – all of which are key to the restoration of biodiversity in the area.

As the training proceeds, we would also engage in a photography and video expedition that would be developed into a photo novel and educational video. This would be published and promoted online to showcase the area, educate the public on conservation science and advocate for better conservation practices across the Niger-Delta region.

Environmental Conservation and Biodiversity is a major contributor to One Health and is very integral to the sustainable development we seek to achieve in the world. Therefore, as a focus area within the strategic goals of OHDI, this grant support with not only be useful to implement this important project, it will also kick-start the very significant work of promoting conservation practices and the expected long-term efforts of restoring Biodiversity in affected Niger-Delta communities in Nigeria.



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