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To amplify the voices of the vulnerable, the marginalized and the excluded.


By: Odette Campbell, CERN correspondent, Grenada.

The solving of environmental problems often requires huge human and financial resources.  People in Grenada joined hands to face beach erosion and marine debris, problems which also affected their fishing and recreation.  With the help of Grenada’s Community Development Agency (GRENCODA), the residents of one West coast village have proven the old proverb that more hands make the work lighter.

The people of Beauséjour at Grenada’s West coast depend largely on fishing for their livelihood.  In that village, as early as 4 or 5 in the morning, one can see fishermen casting their nets.  One of the biggest challenges to these fisherfolks has been the gradual disappeareance of the coastline.  Therefore, the community decided that they needed to protect their livelihood and sought the assistance of the GRENCODA.

According to Benny Langaigne of GRENCODA, people face two problems: “One problem results of the ravages inflicted on the beach by years of sandmining.  The other is the loss of quite a number of trees, due to the encroaching sea.  The beach is riddled with old dead tree stumps and logs that had fallen, and haven’t been removed.  Less and less beach was available to people.  Fishermen suffered because their nets got snagged at tree stumps, got ripped and torn and had to be mended.”

In May 1997, the community first tried to address these issues by organizing a beach clean-up.  Langaigne said: “That went very well, some 45 persons turned out and did a marvelous job.  In fact, the beach was cleaned so thoroughly, that fishermen could now cast three nets simultaneously instead of just having space to cast one net at a time.”

The replacement of lost trees was seen as one solution to the problem.  Langaigne stated that the joint forces of community people and a community agency has brought excellent results.  “The community took the initiative to replant trees to replace the ones that had been lost, due to the erosion caused by sandmining and the encroachment of the sea.  Supported by GRENCODA, they contacted the Forestry Department and got quite a number of sea grape trees.  Altogether, 86 trees were planted in late 1996 and early 1997.”

It was a difficult task, but Langaigne stated that it was first necessary to remove some of the dead trees.  These had become infested with a pink mealy bug, and before planting the area had to be ridded of this bug.  He told that: “Again, the community was instrumental in that, because they cut the trees that were infested and burned the stuff.  People went to the landfill site and got fuel material, old tires and so forth, to burn the infested wood.  After leaving the beach for a month or so, the community was advised by Forestry Department personnel that is was OK to go ahead with tree planting.”

Langaigne said that GRENCODA received assistance from several agencies, including the Caribbean National Resources Institute (CANARI), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Natural Resources Management Unit and the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Project (an agency of the United Nations).  The beach clean-up and tree planting at Beauséjour has transformed the lives of community residents, especially the fisherfolks who can now cast three nets simultaneously as opposed to only one before.  In addition, land guarantees are a spin-off benefit for the village.

Langaigne added that there are more plans: “Eventually the community wants to develop the area into a set of parks that can attract more visitors, tourists as well as local holiday makers, for picnics and so forth.  People hope that by developing the physical landscape, and attracting more persons into the area, little businesses and small self-employment initiatives can be generated, and some income can be derived.”

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In collaboration with the Caribbean Environmental Reporters Network (CERN), Panos produces a weekly 10-minutes radio series: “Island Beat – News from the environmental frontline of the Caribbean”.  It documents community environmental themes, in particular highlighting community experiences in finding solutions to environmental problems, reported by journalists from across the Caribbean region.  This current print feature has been derived from a radio programme which was produced in August 1997.