Message from Tommy Garnett, Executive Director of EFA:

I visited Tiwai Island over the weekend and was joined by the PCs Magona of Barri and Kanneh of Koya Chiefdoms. Also visiting was Umaru Wood, Planning and Development Manager of the National Tourist Board. The sight of fallen trees and badly damaged structures, invoked a feeling of awe and wonder. The thought of one storm causing so much physical damage in less than 10 minutes, was incomprehensible, yet real.

I was encouraged by the proactiveness of Paramount Chiefs Magona and Kanneh, who agreed on site, that all eight Tiwai host communities, will take part in the clearing up of the site. And there is a lot of clearing up to do, but we expect this initial phase of the rehab work to be completed in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, we will engage with all of our partners and friends of Tiwai to assist in whatever ways possible, with the rehabilitation of the facilities at Visitor Centre.

EFA and its partners, with the support of the host communities and their leaders would like to assure all the friends of Tiwai, that we will do our utmost to get the Visitor Centre functioning again before Christmas.

Many thanks to you all, for your support over the years.

A Massive Storm Hit Tiwai

A massive storm hit Tiwai Island on 2nd October 2015, destroying many of the facilities on the Island, luckily leaving no human casualty behind. The destruction of the facilities at the Visitors’ Centre of the Tiwai Sanctuary is extensive. We would therefore greatly appreciate your support to rehabilitate the Visitors’ Centre Contributions can be made via our PayPal account accessible via .

EFA have been active on Tiwai Island since 2001, when we joined forces with Njala University’s Biological Sciences Department, Forestry Department, and the local authorities and people of Barri and Koya Chiefdoms, to reconstruct the facilities on Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Financed initially by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, with matching in-kind contributions from UNHCR, EFA, Njala University, the main goal of the project was to rebuild and re-equip the research and eco-tourism facilities on Tiwai Island, in an effort to restore the island’s pre-war status as an international biological research and ecotourism destination. A further underlying intention was to enable the host communities to protect the island in exchange for community development and livelihood assistance.

Letter from the Boards of Trustees of EFA and the Management of EFA

                                                                                                           2nd March 2015.

Dear Supporters of EFA,

As you may be aware, impressive headway has been made recently in controlling the spread of the Ebola virus in the three most affected countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. While the epidemiological crisis is not over, and now is not the time for complacency, the worst appears to have passed and the three countries are in a good position to stamp out the virus within the coming months.

EFA’s Ebola Crisis Appeal raised about US$5000, which was used for emergency food supplies for communities surrounding the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, to encourage them not to turn to hunting, farming and mining of the Sanctuary for their immediate needs. This support was received with extreme gratitude. Knowing that EFA and its supporters were thinking of the communities and the Sanctuary’s staff was inspirational to them as they survived those dark months.

Looking broadly, notwithstanding the many thousands of deaths and social trauma caused by the Ebola virus, the challenge at hand is to prepare and execute plans for the countries to recover from the crisis. The effects of the crisis on the nations’ economies, food security and social fabric have been profound. Private sector activity has dramatically decreased with some major companies declaring bankruptcy and many more curtailing operations. Food production in the last year was limited, in particular in Sierra Leone, because of the restrictions on mobility, curfews and difficulty in obtaining agricultural inputs. The deficiencies in the national health care systems of the three countries became painfully clear, as did the difficulties in coordinating and delivering international support for the Ebola response.

National governments, aid agencies, development banks, international and national NGOs and other partners are busy planning post-Ebola recovery. While their focus is understandably on stimulating immediate, short-term growth, and on preparing to contain the next epidemic rapidly, EFA believes that the crisis provides perspective on how to pursue economic development differently. If we return to business-as-usual, should we expect anything other than more-of-the-same?

EFA’s perspective is different: we believe that the Ebola virus crisis is a symptom of a development model that needs critical reconsideration. This model of economic development requires never-ending growth in production and consumption to lift the target countries out of poverty. While ending poverty is a lofty objective and undeniably good, the means proposed to achieve it in countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are mainly to continue expanding production of raw materials like raw ores and other minerals, timber, palm oil and rubber. These are usually produced in the rural, forested ‘frontier’ areas of the countries, causing deforestation or forest fragmentation. In such contexts, humans and wildlife more frequently come into contact.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a zoonotic disease, transmitted from wildlife to humans. Many diseases affecting humans today were transmitted from a wildlife reservoir, a species in which it has little or no deleterious effect but is nevertheless transmitted from generation to generation. However when it jumps from the host animal to humans, for example when a person comes into contact with bodily fluids or aerosol particles from an infected animal, the disease can be lethal.

A development model that promotes bringing people into contact with forest-dwelling, or forest-edge-dwelling wildlife, is like playing Russian roulette: every time another chance for zoonosis – transmission of a disease from an animal to humans – occurs, the revolver’s trigger is pulled again.

EFA calls on the Governments and all development partners in Sierra Leone and West Africa, as they plan post-Ebola recovery, to integrate natural resources management fully into development plans and economic activities, whether for small-scale local production, industrial production, infrastructure development, or anything else. Development options need to be appraised in terms of what impact they could have on increasing the risk of zoonosis. Impacts on ‘natural capital depreciation’ need to be evaluated, that is, does an activity reduce a country’s natural resources which produce valuable but frequently ‘unvalued’ good and services like watershed protection, soil protection and regeneration, medicines, foods/food security, carbon storage and more? Some projects may appear to deliver solid returns in terms of revenues or jobs generated, but if they involve the loss or fragmentation of ecosystems and wildlife habitat, they may in fact be quite destructive of natural capital, undermine ecosystem services and increase risks like zoonosis. In that light they do not look so attractive.

EFA has partnered with the ERM Foundation of Environmental Resources Management Ltd. to research the links between deforestation/forest fragmentation in West Africa and zoonotic episodes. This will form the basis of an awareness campaign to be undertaken starting in late March and the second trimester of 2015, targeting the planning and execution of economic recovery for EVD-affected countries.

While the needs of communities surrounding Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, and other forest-edge communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, remain great and urgent, economic recovery takes time and depends on many actors. EFA will do its best to assist the communities where it operates with both humanitarian aid and development assistance in the coming year. However EFA’s most strategic way to support Tiwai Island, and the wider national and regional contexts, will be to lobby that the recovery and development plans adopted for post-EVD recovery do not repeat the unintended consequences that contributed to the spread of the disease and many other zoonotic crises.

On behalf of the Boards of Trustees of EFA and of the Management of EFA, we wish to thank all of those who have supported us through these difficult times, and ask that you continue your support as we embark on our new, strategic campaign. Thanks to the ERM Foundation, the costs will not be large: travel and subsistence costs for EFA personnel conducting workshops, education and outreach, media and small-scale publishing costs, and other miscellanea. Please continue to help EFA generously!

Jamison Suter


Boards of Trustees, EFA UK and Ireland


Tommy Garnett

Director of Regional Programmes

EFA Sierra Leone

Please Support Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Please Support TiwaiAs the death toll from the Ebola virus continues to rise, the livelihoods of the people in afflicted areas are severely affected too. In Sierra Leone, tourism is a key part of the economy. In some areas, communities depend almost entirely on revenues generated from tourism which are shared for their local development. However the Ebola virus crisis has halted all tourism and with this, communities dependent on it are in a desperate situation.

Since 2000, the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) and its partners have supported community-led ecotourism at Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. This area is in the epicentre of the Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, and the crisis has resulted in a complete collapse of tourism, cutting off communities from a major source of daily livelihood. There is no way of predicting when this situation will improve.

After one and a half decades of successful community engagement to protect Tiwai Island, EFA seeks to support the 3000 people in the immediate vicinity of the Wildlife Sanctuary by delivering vital supplies of food and other essentials. Without our help, they could hunt the island’s spectacular wildlife and cut the forest to plant crops just to survive. With our help, they will see that conservation supports them and the outside world cares.

Please help us to support the people and wildlife of Tiwai Island and continue biodiversity conservation in Sierra Leone, by donating to Justgiving For more information, please visit the EFA Sierra Leone website at

Donate with JustGiving

Thank you very much.