FZS-SEMP has supported the establishment of Community Conservation Banks (COCOBAs) in several districts throughout the ecosystem. COCOBAs utilize a community savings and banking loans model in which 15-30 community members collectively contribute weekly to a common bank, from which they are later able to take low-interest loans to support conservation-friendly income generating activities. Further supporting the conservation aspect of this enterprise, four of the groups recently established consist entirely of former illegal bushmeat hunters who have agreed to stop poaching wildlife and are looking for alternative livelihood options.
The Following was prepared by COCOBA Groups UPENDO ("LOVE") & UMOJA ("UNITY") in Bonchugu Village, Serengeti District
(translated from Swahili)
After the lead and encouragement from Frankfurt Zoological Society & Mr Shukrani from Tumaini Jema, the people of Bonchugu launched the COCOBA groups on 15th February 2009. Most of these members were hunters, gatherers, and environmental destructors. This was due to the fact that our income was very low, and depends on such activities to earn our income.
After attending several awareness-raising workshops, we established two groups, with 60 members in total, of which 42 are men & 18 women. Each group had 30 members. These groups have strong leadership, which lead to the establishment of Savings & Credit bank for COCOBA members.
The Cocoba members started to get loans from their credit & savings bank
The Cocoba members formed groups of five members among themselves, to create small different projects like animal husbandry, bee keeping, small enterprises, tailoring, bakery etc.
The system promotes members to get to know each other, share their problem and support one another, like with funeral, festival congregations, and help for schooling of family members.
The groups received education and awareness of illegal hunting, and environmental conservation of fauna & flora. Apart from this, we educate ourselves against HIV new infections.
The groups have themselves established production of local drama, for leisure, encouraging the safeguard of their indigenous culture
Establishment of football teams among the community.
The groups are now known from the level of village to central government. We received the 1st award of environment conservation to the District level
The groups now got shares with National Microfinance Bank, have stamps, files and visitors register books
The larger community awareness on illegal harvesting of natural resources is still needed
Lack of strong project management. More education is essential
Our banks with very low shares, compared to huge numbers of borrowers, and the existing projects with low capital.
Human- animal conflicts – where animals like elephants are destroying farm crops, and make the community economy poor and poorer!
As the COCOBA initiatives just started among the communities, it needs to have the close advice from the experts, including exchange programmes from different banks institutions, in order to gain more knowledge on how to operates these village banks
More learning trips – visiting National Parks and learn from them how they operate
To make a market research, in order be satisfied with future COCOBA output!
To increase our COCOBA shares among members in order to strengthen the already established groups
To keep on educating people on illegal offtake of natural resources, and the advantage of safeguarding the community surroundings for the betterment of the coming generations
To keep on protecting farm crops from destructive animals like elephant through the use of chili pepper powder and oil etc,
To partake in different local and international conservation ventures for more exposure and learning
To make sure that the existing COCOBA groups are sustainable and moving forward, so that they can borrow from strong financial institutions like NBC, NMB etc.
We invite the top leaders from different levels of conservation NGO’s to visits us and learn from their experience.
Our sincere thanks should go to Tumaini Jema group for their efforts and encouragement to bring us together through the village government, the Frankfurt Zoological Society for their support and empowerment!
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