Guided by the preamble that most businesses depend on financial support from banks or investors to cover the initial or start-up cost, the GEBR project was designed not only to train beneficiaries to undertake biodiversity related or green alternative livelihood activities, but also that the beneficiaries at the end of the training would be provided with tools and equipment to enable them get beyond the pilot and learning phase.
The GEBR project is also being implemented in two other biosphere reserves in Africa - Omo Biosphere Reserve in Nigeria and the East Usambara Biosphere Reserve in Tanzania. Funding for this project has been provided by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). In Ghana, the project was launched in September 2013 and since then extensive consultations have been carried out with stakeholders, which led to the selection of preferred alternative livelihood activities and training for about 230 beneficiaries. These beneficiaries were trained to undertake apiculture, snail farming, mushroom production and palm oil extraction. In order to ensure sustainability of their businesses and add value to the products, training was provided on book-keeping, marketing, packaging and also how to invest profits back into the businesses.
On 13 August 2015, at a ceremony held in Debiso in the Juabeso and Bia District, beneficiaries were presented with start-up equipment such as beehives, snail pens and mushroom sheds. Mr Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, the Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Prosper Kwasi Nyavor, representative of the Head of the UNESCO Accra Office, Mr Kingsley Asoa-Apimah, District Chief Executive of the Juabeso District Assembly, chiefs and traditional authorities and some members of the MAB National Committee participated in this ceremony. Apart from the equipment, beneficiaries were also presented with certificates for the completion of the trainings. In a brief statement, Mr Appah-Sampong, admonished the beneficiaries to work hard in order to be able to pay back the funds used in procuring the tools and equipment.
Mr Samuel Kwabena Nibree, a farmer and project beneficiary also spoke on behalf of the other beneficiaries. He thanked KOICA and UNESCO and added that snail rearing, which he chose as an alternative livelihood will serve as a source of protein for his family and also augment his income.
To support beneficiaries trained in palm oil production, palm fruit processing machines will be procured and located in two communities - Elluokrom and Asuopri. The Chiefs of these communities have donated plots of land for the construction of sheds for the machines. Environmental impact assessments will be conducted for the sites at which the machines will be located, in order to put in place measures to prevent or minimize any potential impacts of operating the machines on the communities or the environment.