EFA has always recognized that protecting the environment and improving the standard of living in West Africa will not happen without a united regional approach.
In 2004, EFA began to realize its regional vision during a series of meetings between environmental organizations from across West Africa. In 2005, EFA officially became the regional focal point for the Netherlands Committee of the IUCN (IUCN NL). In this role, EFA sought to improve information and lessons sharing among IUCN NL grantees and assist in raising the capacity (technical and administrative) of these organizations.
Based on the success of the regional focal point initative, EFA decided to expand its regional vision beyond the IUCN NL grantees to include all stakeholders involved in the environmental movement in West Africa.
Based on the success of the regional focal point initiative, EFA expanded its regional vision beyond the IUCN NL grantees to include all stakeholders involved in the environmental movement in West Africa. GAWA was conceived.
The Green Actors of West Africa (GAWA)
In 2005, the Green Actors of West Africa (GAWA) network formed to consolidate cooperation among green actors – NGOs, scientific institutions and others who share a vision of an environmentally sound West Africa.
West Africa has been plagued with civil conflicts, poverty and widespread abuse of the environment and its abundant natural resources. Considered the poorest region in the world (as calculated by the UN’s Human Development Index), the environment and human wellbeing are critically linked across the region. Basic services required for a healthy and meaningful life are directly provided by the immediate environment including wood for fuel, flood protection and water regulation by the forests as well as fisheries and agriculture as a means of protein and income.
At the same time, the wealth of resources found in West Africa is a viable means to improve the economic standing of these countries. Timber, iron ore, petroleum and precious minerals are harvested from these countries and sold around the world; West African resources are key ingredients in our global economy. However, to date, these resources have been extracted in unsustainable and damaging ways by governments and corporations acting without accountability. The damage to the environment threatens political stability, human welfare and the environment itself.
Individual GAWA members undertake a wide range of activities including: advocacy, awareness raising, biodiversity conservation, environmental protection and rehabilitation, livelihood enhancement, natural resource management, scientific research and social justice.
Synchronizing our efforts, helping each other gain relevant skills and speaking with one voice on the most urgent environmental threats to West Africa and its people brings a new momentum to the environmental movement in the region. By creating a strong foundation of leadership and coordination, GAWA is the source of collaboration and networking previously absent from the environmental sector in West Africa.
Joint Regional SOTE (State of the Environment) Video Advocacy Project 2010
The State of the Environment (SOTE) productions are a collaborative GAWA member activity in which video is used as a supportive tool for GAWA’s work and its visibility and impact at both regional and international levels. The SOTE programme is intended to support the advocacy work of GAWA and create a forum for members to showcase their work. The aim is to produce a documentary series that focuses on the main environmental issues in the region. It will call for regional and international action and will highlight the imminent problems as well as alternatives and solutions presented by GAWA members. The main target audience are policy and decision makers.
When the project is completed, the SOTE series will have one introductory episode with a short introduction on all the thematic areas, and six episodes focusing on the major environmental topics of the region. The final result will be 7 episodes of 10 minutes duration each, covering the following topics:
1. Introduction video
3. Marine & Coastal resources
6. Waste Management& Pollution
7. Water resources & River Basins
The GAWA network has already produced the introduction and the energy episodes. This year, EFA staff and an external consultant are supporting the GAWA focal point in collaborating with members on the production of the forestry, mining and waste management episodes. These will be completed by the end of 2010.
The World Report Foundation of the Netherlands continues to provide the GAWA network and the EFA’s information unit with technical support, training and advice.
The EFA sound and video editing studio is available for use by both local and regional partners.
GAWA implements its mission through empowerment of national networks of green actors within member countries by providing skills training in strategic areas such as advocacy, video production, financial management and other technical capacities. Trainings are conducted in context, each building on actual initiatives and campaigns at the regional level.
The networks’ Web site; www.greenactorswestafrica.org is a platform for sharing experiences, projects and raising awareness about the role of West Africa’s resources in the global context.
- Report and Analysis from the Meeting of the GAWA Network, Ouagadougu, Burkina Faso, 22 – 24 January, 2006
- Rapport et Analyse de Réunion du Réseau de GAWA, Ouagadougu, Burkina Faso, 22 – 24 Janvier, 2006
Rapport et Analyse de Réunion du Réseau de GAWA, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1-5 février 2010.