Charlesville – The Local Community Capacity Development Activity (LCCDA) project, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) serves as a catalyst for economic development through alternative livelihoods and capacity building in leadership and governance.
LCRP opened their new Sanctuary and Conservation Center in May 2021 and is currently caring for nearly 100 orphan chimpanzees who are all victims of the illegal bushmeat and pet trades. The sanctuary is located within the Marshall Wetlands, a designated conservation site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and a proposed protected area, in estuarine habitat containing vast terrestrial and mangrove forests. These wetlands are home to a wide range of species and its unique biodiversity makes it especially important. Mangroves are extremely valuable for carbon sequestration, storing more than four times as much carbon as tropical rainforests. They also provide protection from coastal flooding and serve as a spawning ground and nursery for river and ocean fish. However, the wetlands are under threat due to continuous and increasing pressure from resource extraction, dynamite fishing, construction and infrastructure development.
LCCDA aims to provide the necessary training, support and resources to develop local opportunities, build capacity and help ensure local communities benefit economically from the presence of LCRP amidst their communities while simultaneously improving the Marshall Wetlands ecosystem health and biodiversity and fostering protection of LCRP’s chimpanzee residents. LCRP requires more than twenty five tons of fresh fruit and vegetables per month to cater to the needs of the chimpanzees living at the sanctuary, representing a significant opportunity for local food production activities. The project, implemented by LCRP, Partners in Development (PADEV) and Universal Outreach Foundation (UOF) in Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties, works with local communities to implement regenerative agriculture, beekeeping, woodlots, Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) and conservation of the Marshall Wetlands.
The project’s VSLA program is empowering local communities through improving access to financial services, fostering entrepreneurship and nurturing a culture of saving in the Charlesville community, Margibi County. The VSLA initiative began in June 2022 with the establishment of three groups and a total of 45 members. The three groups called Success, God is Able, and United, were trained and provided with a seed fund of LRD $56,000 ($300 USD) to increase each group’s loan portfolio. After one year, these groups have raised a total capital of over LRD $600,000 ($3200 USD). Some members are using loans to pay school fees and others are using loans for small businesses including dry goods/general merchandise, fish sales, cold water, fried fish, and food services. The groups praised USAID for supporting this unique program, through LCRP and partners, and called on other organizations to emulate their example. The project is currently working on increasing the number of VSLAs to six this year.
Community members who have been positively impacted by the USAID supported LCCDA program include business owner Mamie Marty, who shared “The VSLA program not only provided me with financial support but also gave me the confidence to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow my fish business; from selling around to owning a market table and making a positive impact in my community by contributing financially to rehabilitate the community handpump.” Oretha Goffa said that the VSLA program was a turning point in her life, saying “with the loans I received, I was able to expand my business. I can now afford to send my three children to school without worrying about the financial burden. Education is the key to their future, and I am grateful for the support that has made it possible”, highlighting the transformative impact the program has had on these communities.
Marx Lloyd, the Commissioner of Charlesville, witnessed the VSLA’s first cycle of funding. He thanked LCRP, who are longtime members of the community, for bringing the program to life, noting that the program represents transformation and hope for the people of Charlesville. LCRP Project Officer, Henry Toe is excited to work with partners to build on the program’s success, saying “by scaling up such initiatives and extending their reach, we can kindle a brighter future for countless individuals.”
Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection is dedicated to improving the lives of chimpanzees, both wild and rescued, through rehabilitation, protection and conservation. We are Liberia’s first and only sanctuary for all chimpanzees in need. Our Conservation Center operates as a one health hub, bringing together partners from diverse sectors to advance local, regional and international wildlife protection and conservation initiatives. LCRP rescues chimpanzees in need and keeps wild chimps wild.