NGO YVEO: Strengthening the ecological integrity of Lake Buyo within the Taï National Park through concerted and efficient resource management and diversification of the livelihoods of the surrounding fishing communities.
Lake Buyo is located in the southwest of Côte d’Ivoire and on the northern boundary of the Taï National Park (TNP). Because of its surface area (8,400 ha), the importance it has today for its riparian populations (approximately 2 000 inhabitants) and its proximity to the TNP, the good management of this artificial lake with a hydroelectric vocation, whose fish are exported to Abidjan, is a necessity. The TNP has the status of a Biosphere Reserve and is home to more than 1200 plant species of which about 200 are endemic to West Africa, 140 species of mammals (12 endemic) of which the most emblematic are probably the Forest Elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis, VU), the Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis, EN) and the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes, EN), 234 species of birds, and numerous species of amphibians. Buyo Lake is better known and appreciated for its ichthyological diversity, estimated at more than 32 species divided into 13 families, which directly and indirectly provide a living for more than 2,000 actors in the fisheries sector (fishermen, fishmongers, etc.).
Unfortunately, these resources are now seriously threatened by bad fishing practices (such as fishing in spawning areas, the use of illegal nets or prohibited techniques); laxity in the application of the texts that govern fishing in continental waters, the lack of structuring of fishing actors and the increase in fishing pressure by local and foreign populations that are too dependent on the resource to live.
Materialization of a spawning area
The end of a project but not of a dynamic!
As a reminder, our project of “sustainable community management of Buyo Lake within the Taï National Park (TNP)” is the result of a partnership agreement between the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR) and our NGO Yacoli Village Ecole Ouverte (YVEO). It was based in its design phase on the priority actions mentioned in the local multi-stakeholder agreement of 2017 aimed at strengthening the ecological integrity of Lake Buyo. It was financed by the PPI-5 between 2019 and 2021. In particular, our project willhave enabled:
– The creation and operationalization of an umbrella organization of fishermen for the lake called “management cell”;
– The setting up of a “steering committee” framework of dialogue and multi-stakeholders (constituted of members of the management cell, YVEO, OIPR, MIRAH, representatives of the Regional Council of Nawa and the Prefect of Buyo);
– The delimitation and participatory materialization of 108.13 ha of spawning area on the lake;
– The development and provision of a tool formonitoring catches (data collection form) to fisheries actors (OIPR, fisheries service, fishermen);
– The installation of 03 hectares of wood energy plantation “Acacia mangium“;
– The development of 5 pilot farms, including 3 farms in aulacodiculture for the benefit of 3 fishermen’s associations outside the park (Zoba, Dera and 5 Kilos) and 2 farms in beekeeping for the benefit of 2 fishermen’s associations located in the park (PK 15 and PK 28).
All these activities having allowed at the end of 2021 to note the reduction of approximately 60% of the cases of illegal activities of fishing recorded on the lake. A result which is for us very encouraging. All the more so in view of the trying period crossed linked to the pandemic of COVID-19, to the crises due to the last communal and presidential elections in Ivory Coast and finally to the death of our late former president Raymond Y. SIBAILLY.
And yes, officially from the point of view of the PPI our project is finished! However, like the great majority of our associative struggles, they cannot be won over such a short period of time…this is the reason why YVEO continues to fight so that the dynamics we have started can live on!
As far as we are concerned, several challenges remain to be met in order to meet the needs. The most important are undoubtedly:
– To plead for the taking of a prefectural decree officially prohibiting fishing on the materialized spawning area.
– To keep a permanent watch on the effectiveness of the participatory governance of the fishery and the respect of good fishing practices.
– Facilitate hydro-biological studies in the spawning area.
– To continue the technical accompaniment of our beneficiaries of aulacodic and apicultural units.
– To set up an ecological store for the sale of fishing equipment respecting the regulations.
– To extend our actions all around the area of the TNP.
To achieve these activities and reach our ambitions, we are now actively working to strengthen our volunteer team on the one hand (including the mobilization of interns and national and international volunteers) and our ability to mobilize resources on the other. Taking the elephant by the tusks (not to say the bull by thehorns), we have decided to organize a one-week training course on the subject this June, using our own funds. This training will be led by Damien, the PPI regional coordinator for West Africa, for the benefit of our entire team. This is a first step in the regeneration of YVEO under the leadership of its new president Mr. KOUAME Khassy Georges.
 Ivorian Office for Parcs and Reserves
 Ministry in charge of animal and halieutic production