Togolese women are becoming restoration leaders, with ITTO and Soka Gakkai support

12 November 2021

Togolese women receive tools through the ITTO project to plant trees and improve agroforestry practices. Photo: REFACOF

Yokohama, 12 November 2021: An ITTO project financed by Soka Gakkai* to support forest landscape restoration is changing the lives of women in two prefectures in Togo as they benefit from improved agroforestry practices, according to a report in Japan’s Seikyo newspaper.

In the first year of implementation of the pilot project, “Support for women’s groups with the restoration of forest landscapes in the prefectures of Blitta and Lacs, Togo”, more than 100 women have planted over 30 000 seedlings, despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deforestation is widespread in the two provinces, and many women are living in poverty.

“Due to culture and traditions, poor women in these parts of Togo have limited rights to land and property, hindering their independence,” said project leader Cécile Bibiane Ndjebet, as quoted in Seiyko. Ms Ndjebet is founder and president of the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests, the project’s executing agency.

“Women in the community, however, support their families through their household and community work, and they should be empowered through income-generating activities to overcome such societal issues,” said Ms Ndjebet.

The ITTO project is helping the women learn new skills, gain employment and become financially independent.

“It is often women who support families and communities through housework and childcare, and they have the power to overcome issues related to society as a whole, such as poverty, hunger and environmental conservation,” said Ms Ndjebet.

The response of participants to the project has been huge, according to Ms Ndjebet.

“Some said, ‘My longtime dream has finally come true’,” she said.

The project is contributing to Togo’s efforts to achieve various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as to the UN Decade of Family Farming (2019–2028) and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030).

Ms Ndjebet hopes that the project will also have an influence well beyond its direct areas of focus, with the potential for scaling up.

“Women who have experienced this project will visit different areas in Togo in the future to share their experiences, … implement initiatives and learn from each other,” she said.

See the article in the Seikyo newspaper (Japanese only).

* Soka Gakkai is a global community-based Buddhist organization that promotes peace, culture and education.

Related SDGs

The project is a grassroot initiative that can make a huge difference to the lives of rural women as well as protect local forests.

Rural women are benefiting from agroforestry, food cropping, and the production of wood and non-wood forest products for sale in local markets.

The project is increasing the participation of local women in forestry and livelihoods, thus increasing their financial independence.

The project is helping women increase their organizational, managerial and technical skills in nursery establishment and maintenance.

The project aims to reverse land degradation, which in turn will increase carbon storage.

Forests are dwindling rapidly in Togo due to pressure from a growing population, the expansion of agriculture, overexploitation and extreme weather events. The project is increasing women’s capacity to protect their local forests.

The uptake of forest landscape restoration and agroforestry by Togolese women will facilitate the implementation of the 2021–2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.