OELO, our new partner, wins the Equator Prize.

Fishers on lake Oguemoué © Roshni Lodhia

What better way to introduce our latest partner NGO, OELO, after winning the prestigious Equator prize for community-led climate action. Congratulations.


Yes, you read right, we have a new partner in Gabon at the edge of the Congo Rainforest. We believe in the work of OELO to help cool our planet by backing the right people to protect tropical rainforest. Rainforest that captures carbon better than anything else on Earth.

If OELO winning one of the most prestigious prizes for climate action isn’t reason enough for you to believe in their work, keep reading.

OELO are transforming world-class wetlands and forests with the communities that live there.

It’s not just the forest elephants, hippos, gorillas, manatees or even the slender-snouted crocs that get us most excited about our new partnership with OELO (Organisation Ecologique des Lacs et de l’Ogooué). It’s the people protecting the environment they call home. Communities living on the Oguemoué Lake who have shown their power, optimism and ability to seize opportunities to protect nature for future generations in creative ways.

Where OELO began.

In 2010 residents from seven lakeside communities formed OELO with a view to manage natural resources sustainably for future generations. The land encompassing these villages was exploited by an international logging concession; residents didn’t see a penny in any local community development support which is required by law.

The community lost cash but didn’t lose hope.

What we find most inspiring is how Heather and Cyrille, OELO co-founders, rallied communities transforming frustration into optimistic climate action.

They set out to protect the lake and surrounding environment with sustainable businesses and projects that truly benefit the people that live there.

Their goals:

  1. Protect biodiversity and ecosystem services for future generations.
  2. Foster environmental awareness in local communities.
  3. Inspire the next generation to become environmental stewards.
  4. Help Bas Ogooué lake region residents to generate income through the sustainable use of resources.

“It’s an exciting time to be in Gabon, the national government is pro-conservation, they’re doing all this important work. Now we want to make sure the people that are benefitting from forest conservation are the people that actually live in and around the forest.”

– Heather, OELO co-founder.

OELO bags the Equator Prize.

OELO, this year, won the prestigious Equator Prize for their work. Lake Oguemoué is in the hands of protective, creative and caring people. They’ve balanced ecotourism with a smart approach to managing the lake that has gone on to impact local policy. This is the stuff of climate action dreams. Ecotourism enterprise, Tsam Tsam, supports local fishers by combining the protection of nature and sustainable businesses.

Morning fishing with Martial Angoue and Andy Ndjoy (wearing an orange suit). Often the fisherman use used oil-rigging gear (hat, suit) when fishing. © Roshni Lodhia

OELO with local fishers and scientific, governmental and NGO partners created Gabon’s first freshwater fisheries management plan, signed into national law in 2018 to protect Lake Oguemoué resources for future generations. This approach is to be expanded into the wider Bas Ogooué Ramsar site, Gabon’s largest and most important (and globally recognised) wetlands site.

“Through activism and environmental education, the organisation protects against overfishing in Gabon’s Great Lakes region.”

– Equator Initiative

Martial Angoue, the accountant at AMVEN, documenting the weight, size and type of fish caught daily. © Roshni Lodhia

Where OELO are headed

OELO leads programs in ecotourism, environmental education, sustainable fishing, and facilitating biodiversity research.

Their latest project, “Our forest, our future”, is piloting now funded by your cash. With seven communities on the lake they are putting forward a case to protect it and the surrounding rainforest. Your cash is helping to prove that they have the skills and knowledge to look after it better than anyone else.

Your cash has funded rigorous consultation, meetings with regional and national figures, and made field research happen. All to help craft an effective vision for the future of the lake and the surrounding forest. Watch this space.

Head to https://oelogabon.org/ to find out more about OELO’s work.