Sea turtles constitute an endangered species across the world. In the southern coast of Cote d’Ivoire, in the town of Grand Béréby, sea turtles experience a dilemma in life. On the one hand, they constitute a beauty to watch, hence, attract several tourists to this beautiful community. On the other hand, they experience a nightmare in the hands of seaside communities. They are being harvested as a means of livelihood.
Conservation des Espèces Marines (CEM), a non-governmental organisation was established in Grand Béréby by José Gomez and some young nature conservationists in 2015 in response to this threat posed to sea turtles.
Their selfless efforts enabled them to sensitise communities on the need to protect sea turtles. They also recruited some community members to document information on existing sea turtles that stray along the seashores and ensure that these reptiles stay safe as they enjoy their aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
The efforts of CEM contributed towards protecting sea turtles albeit challenging. A major challenge the organisation faced was in its ability to effectively organise and scale up its work. This was partly due to the limited funds the organisation had to implement its bountiful nature conservation activities.
However, an encounter between CEM and WACSI in 2020 paved way for a new dawn of opportunities for CEM. Characterised by a needs assessment, online and face to face training sessions and online coaching support, the CEM – WACSI union gave the latter an opportunity to discover the panacea to its resource mobilisation woes.
Gomez attested that the support from WACSI equipped them to have what was required to unlock the challenges they faced.
“The support from WACSI enabled us to understand how to develop a logical framework with the relevant details,” he said.
This was a critical need identified by the organisation prior to their participation in the two-year capacity strengthening programme designed by WACSI for CEPF with the support of the former. The support from WACSI also enabled CEM to master the necessity for a strategic plan and to improve their mode of governance.
Between 2020 to date, CEM has emerged into a well-structured organisation focused on the protection of sea turtles.
The regular organisation of meetings among members, their understanding on how to develop logical frameworks based on well thought through and focused organisational orientations enabled CEM to make resounding gains in their resource mobilisation efforts.
Between 2020 and 2021, they got funding from diverse donors including the United States Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire, SOS – Save our Species, CEPF, Fish and Wildlife Service and Rainforest Trust.
The funds raised from these partners pave way for a new horizon for the organisation. These resource mobilisation gains have embedded some residues of hope in the organisation. The accomplishments have made the team to look to the future with hope and optimism. As Alexandre Dah – President of CEM puts it, “we will think of 2025 with much hope, thanks to the support from WACSI”.
Gomez affirms this optimism.
“The support has strengthened the capacity of the organisation for further impacts in the communities. It has also expanded the horizons of the organisation in terms of interventions and readiness to take advantage of any future opportunities,” he said.