Combining conservation and tradition for development

Technical officers and traditional authorities are strengthening participatory governance in the Urok islands, Bijagós archipelago in Guinea-Bissau. The environment and local population are benefiting. 

The EU considers the Urok Osheniproject, created by NGOs Tiniguena and the Instituto Marquês de Valle Flôr, as a model for the region in protecting biodiversity and developing local communities. The initiative is based on strengthening the participatory governance process and building a sustainable development model. 

Urok Osheni is managed by traditional and official authorities, community representatives, NGOs and research institutions. Communities have benefited through increased local entrepreneurship, rising youth educational attainment and protection of biodiversity. 

One recent success was strengthening the inspection team, made up of community members, which controls environmental pressure as a result of hunters and fishermen. The team also monitors and identifies incidents where the balance of the ecosystem is harmed.

According to Tiniguena, Urok Osheni, which began in 2010 on three Urok islands (Formosa, Nago and Chediã), “is a pilot project for the rest of the archipelago of Bijagós.” More than 30,000 inhabitants over 80 islands and islets make up the Community Protected Marine Area of Guinea-Bissau.

Sílvia Norte 

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