My name is Christian, I am programme manager for West Africa at VSF-Suisse. In July I visited our project in Togo. I am pleased to share with you some impressions from the region of the Abdoulaye Forest. Although this forest was declared a nature reserve in 1951, it is still overused. The local people lack alternatives, so that trees are illegally cleared and wild animals hunted. The habitat of numerous animal and plant species is thus increasingly destroyed.

To get out of this tricky situation, we offer new perspectives to the people who have used the Abdoulaye Forest Reserve. Thanks to our project former poachers now breed sheep, former loggers plant trees and women produce shea butter instead of charcoal. In this way, we not only secure the existence of local people, but also protect the valuable forest. I am now pleased to present to you some of our activities.

Let us start the exciting journey to the Abdoulaye region!

On the way to the region of the Abdoulaye Forest, felled trees and charcoal always make me wonder. These snapshots from the bumpy vehicle are a memorial to the ongoing deforestation in Togo. We need to act urgently!

Inclusion is important to us! Here we exchange ideas with villagers from Beem about future activities as alternatives to deforestation.
There is a need to take action. In the village of Beem the small farmers are not organized. In our activities we strengthen the exchange and cooperation between producers
In the village of Agba Wiliga, for example, we are working with the local women’s group to improve the marketing of small animals. Together we are strong!
Kids are the future! That’s why we put the central importance of the Abdoulaye forest to their hearts. The children are very interested and get involved in the discussion.

Shea nuts offer an interesting source of income for women. But traditional processing requires a lot of wood. With this stove (picture in the right) we use nut shells instead of tropical wood for firing. Brilliant! In this way we can reduce wood consumption and protect the forest.

Mr Albert next to his sheep, which he received from VSF-Suisse. smallholders like Mr Albert are close to our hearts! We support them in breeding, feeding and marketing the animals.
That’s Lucky! Pig fattening was previously unknown in the Abdoulaye region. VSF-Suisse has introduced smallholders to this interesting niche. Mrs Amegnom (below right) from the village of Ougou Alindé is a very successful pig breeder thanks to VSF-Suisse.

Animal health is at the heart of our work. In our projects we help to produce high-quality fodder from harvest waste. On the left Mr. Tchaadibande with chicken feed and on the right the breeder Mrs. Amegnom with pig feed.

The Fulani nomads produce delicious cheese. In the future we would like to build on their experience and promote milk processing in the region. At the moment we are collecting recipes in Lomé in order to be able to produce cheese according to proven recipes in the future. The red colouring of the cheese in the picture comes from added herbs.
Not seeing the forest for the trees, that is our goal! This small tree is one of 18’000, which will someday grow into a big tree. It will also help the ecosystem, provide shade for people and provide food for animals.
Last but not least a little side trip to Benin. On the left our dedicated country director of Togo. Géraud Hellow grew up in Cameroon, worked previously for the FAO in Chad and has been working for VSF-Suisse since last year. In his work he particularly enjoys the close contact with shepherd families and farmers.

The visit in Togo showed me that our work is extremely important for people and the environment. The local population is given long-term income opportunities, which enables the protection of the Abdoulaye forest.

Huge thanks for supporting VSF-Suisse and enabling the local population on the edge of the Aboulaye nature reserve to have a secure future.