Sankandi Youth Development Association - SYDA
Community Mangrove Conservation and Restoration
The Sankandi Youth Development Association - SYDA is a grassroots project based in the Sankandi area of The Gambia, in West Africa, and focused on restoring the native mangrove forests and empower the rural communities.
The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa and one of the poorest. Shaped by the river Gambia and its tributaries, there used to be extensive mangrove forests but these have been strongly affected by human action. For Sankandi and many other communities along the river banks, the loss of mangrove cover has had serious impacts: loss of habitat for fish species and reduced catches, less firewood available, and loss of valuable farmland and rice fields due to accumulation of salt in the soil.
Facing these consequences, the community engaged in a large-scale effort to recover the lost mangrove under the coordination of the Association and it's founder, Ansumana Darbo. By early 2019, more than 200'000 propagules (embryo mangrove plants) had been collected and then planted by the villagers in the river banks near the Sankandi village. This effort is being supported by scientific research and monitoring to assess current results and direct future planting for achieve lower mortality rates. It has also been distinguished by an Earthwatch Neville Shulman Award in 2018 (link to Earthwatch's page).
Based on the current results, the project aims to plant 10 million propagules to (re)create a green belt across rural Gambia that connects the mangrove forests of 5 communities.
Next to the mangrove restoration effort, the association also has a strong focus on creating additional sources of food and income, by promoting beekeeping (for honey and wax production), poultry farming and horticultural production. In addition, training in micro-entreprises and leadership roles in project management are conducted for women and less privileged youth groups and school-leavers. The overall goal is to empower the local rural communities and advance several sustainable development goals such as "1: No Poverty", 13: Climate Action", "14: Life Below Water", and "15: Life On Land".