Under the“Upscaling and Promoting Biodiversity Conservation and Community Livelihoods in the Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystem” project, funded by the ‘Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’, EFA has been facilitating improved and upgraded facilities as well as training for staff and representatives from the eight host communities on and around Tiwai Island.
As an eco-tourism site Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary has huge potential to attract visitors and in so doing provide valuable ecotourism related livelihoods to the local communities. EFA is working to facilitate various improvements to enhance the Tiwai experience and attract visitors to the island.
There has been an ongoing effort to upgrade the facilities (kitchen and accommodation and other structures) on Tiwai Island. Local community people with carpentry and construction skills are being employed to help with improvements on the island ensuring that the community benefits directly from this initiative. Thanks to the arts and crafts training courses that have been happening on the island the participants have been able to contribute to the improvements on the island. It was always EFA’s intention to involve the arts and crafts trainees in helping to upgrade the facilities and that has proven a success.
The visitor’s centre now has authentic locally made cane furniture. Woven mats decorate the ceiling giving it a nice finish and creating a warm atmosphere. The roofs of buildings on the island have been covered with raffia palm. Laminated copies of the self guided natural trail flyer have been created and are available for visitor use on the island. This trail flyer gives information about the flora and fauna (marks of animals/plants that animals eat) that are marked along the trail. It is informative and interesting and gives the visitor the opportunity to self guide themselves on a short nature walk of about 30 minutes duration.
Upgrades on the island are ongoing.
EFA is committed to investing back into the communities in the Barri and Koya Chiefdoms bordering Tiwai. The Tiwai Coordinator has overseen the construction of four barrays (traditional circular construction used as a meeting a place) in four of the Tiwai communities (Jenneh, Ngiema, Boma and Shegbema) and two guesthouses in the Niahun and Saahun communities respectively. The construction was done by community members and the end results are looking great.
The respective communities are delighted with the improvements to their facilities and it is hoped that this will give an increased incentive to them to continue their support for conservation on Tiwai.
The guesthouses will bring in revenue for their respective communities. The barrays provide a valuable meeting place for people in the community. This gives them a good communication platform and will help them to plan their activities towards the development of the Tiwai area as a leading ecotourism destination which will support the conservation of the island.
EFA, in collaboration with the Njala University will be constructing herbal gardens in two of the local Tiwai communities (Mapuma and Kambama). The sites have already been identified and work is scheduled to start soon.
Solar lights are being installed in some selected communities. These will consist of basic solar lighting and charging systems