Opa Cissokho

Ashoka Fellow
Senegal,
Fellow Since 2007
Entente Intervillageoises pour L'Exploitation des Ressources Naturelles et Agricoles - EXPERNA

Citation

This profile was prepared when Opa Cissokho was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
For years, farmers in Senegal’s impoverished Tambacounda region have relied on selling timber to use as household fuel. Unfortunately, unaware of the environmental consequences of this and other practices, combined with a lack of natural resource management systems, has resulted in a heavy depletion of the areas forest reserves. In response, Opa is changing the relationship between economic necessity and environmental stewardship, encouraging farmers to sell other safe, commercially viable forest products in place of timber. By providing an incentive for farmers to protect the forests, Opa has turned local farmers who previously cut down trees into their fiercest defenders.
During the non-growing season, farmers serve as agroforest agents, receiving payment for preventing the region’s historically devastating brush fires. While Opa ensures that farmers retain local ownership over the management of resources, he also works to promote their opinions and strategies at the highest level of policymaking. Opa aims to replicate the model throughout the country, creating a collective, unified voice for sustainable forest conservation in Senegal. These improvements have translated into greater political stability throughout the region, leading to a reduction in violence and conflict over resources.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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