Building sustainable partnerships to promote capacity building and rural empowerment for community-based conservation

June 22, 2017

Nigeria Placeholder

Building sustainable partnerships to promote capacity building and rural empowerment for community-based conservation

About the Implementing organization

Name: Sustainability and Conservation Education for Rural Areas (SCERA)

Country: Nigeria

Year of establishment: 2008

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status


To prevent over-exploitation of the 300ha Amurum Forest reserve and improve livelihood of rural communities, SCERA was formed as a partnership between APLORI and local communities for long-term protection of the Reserve. In collaboration with a Swedish institution Kyrkerud folkhogskola a fuel-efficient stove was introduced and capacity of women and youths built in stove production. Pipe-borne water was also provided to minimise use and pollution of the local stream. Two innovative solutions form the basis of this project: 1) The partnership: graduating students of APLORI are recruited to support the community project on an on-going basis, providing technical support, ensuring project sustainability; 2) the Amurum brick stove: made from clay and grass, all materials for the production of the stove can be sourced locally, hence easily affordable by rural people, and requiring no special skill to produce, except collective brick-burning in a community kiln. The stove is produced by moulding and brick-laying, which can easily be repaired by women users when damaged and uses 30% less wood than the traditional open fire cooking method. It was identified as a perfect cooking stove option for the impoverished communities of the Amurum forest who cannot easily afford the labour to produce elaborate clay stove designs requiring special pottery skills or conventional expensive cast iron / steel fuel-efficient stoves used in urban areas in the city of Jos, Central Nigeria.

Nature Element

Forests / Grasslands / Drylands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors / Pollution prevention, clean up / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Water security / Peace and security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

The Amurum Forest Reserve is an Important Bird Area, hosting 278 bird species, more than 30% of total record for Nigeria within its 300 ha. Though protected, surrounding forests face severe threats from fuelwood collection. This project has contributed to wildlife and environmental conservation by creating awareness on forest resource overexploitation and involving over 70 women and youths in conservation education. Also, provision of pipe-borne water has reduced use and pollution of the stream running through the reserve by at least 50%. Conservation education and awareness led by community participants reached over 700 people (including >400 children). As a result, conservation awareness and the need for forest and wildlife protection has increased among the communities Improved living conditions has also improved the relationship between communities and reserve management, increasing support for conservation and ensuring increased and long-term protection of the reserve.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Jos Nigeria has suffered devastating religious crisis in the last decade. In addition, poverty impacts communities of the Amurum Forest with >70% youth unemployment. The initiative has tackled poverty alongside environmental issues addressing lack of water and unemployment identified by communities as highest social issues and over-exploitation of firewood as the main environmental problems. As a result, a fuel-efficient stove was introduced and 4 water boreholes now serve the surrounding communities making clean water available and easily accessible. Previously, women and girls trekked long distances of over 2km to fetch drinking water. A piggery scheme provides income for up to 5 clans including a women group - the first communal business enterprise scheme developed for these communities. The initiative served as a uniting force bringing communities who were initially in conflict as a result of benefit-sharing together to work in peace and unity even in the midst of religious crisis.


Still at early stages the impact of the initiative is still quite local. However, the project\'s approach 1) building capacity and empowering rural people, especially women and youths to take the lead in conservation education, poverty alleviation and sustainable development; 2) increasing community support for conservation by improving relationship with park management and 3) applying the expertise of young conservation leaders in promoting biodiversity conservation, rural empowerment and sustainability can be scaled up to national level. This can be achieved by creating a network of national research conservationists supporting community people at the local level with impacts at the national level. This could range from biodiversity, social and environmental/climate impacts to enabling community youths gain quality education, while promoting gender inclusion, peace and stability. The community scholarship scheme introduced at APLORI has trained 3 community youths to Masters level.


Initiatives like this can help to increase support of park-adjacent communities for conservation, reducing socio-economic impacts while increasing biodiversity impacts. This can be replicated nationally through partnerships between the Nigerian Conservation Foundation\'s community projects across protected areas and academic/research institutions. A similar approach is being tested in Liberia, another West African country, through collaboration between APLORI and the Sapo Conservation Centre (SCC) an initiative of Fauna & Flora International (FFI), established at Sapo National Park by SCERA\'s founder Dr. Mary Molokwu-Odozi. Mary who is now the Country and Operations Manager of FFI Liberia, initiated a similar capacity building approach in Liberia through her work with the University of Liberia, Forestry Development Authority and rural communities in Sapo National Park, with two Liberians now trained at APLORI. This earned her the prestigious Tusk Conservation Award nomination in 2015.

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