Geographic coverage Four districts of Koshi Hills –Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Bhojpur and Dhankuta that are denoted as MSFP Lot No. 1 
Project duration 01st March 2013 – 15th March 2015 (1st Phase), and 16th March 2015 to 15th July 2016 (Cost Extension Phase)
Budget NPR 132,871,042 (1st Phase), NPR 197,500,782 (Cost Extension Phase); Grand Total NPR 330,371,824.
Funding partner/s  Nepal Government, Finland Government, SDC and DFID
Target groups 23,442 HHs (117,210 Beneficiaries) Poor, disadvantaged people and vulnerable groups in Nepal focusing on women, Dalits, Janajatis, and climate vulnerable groups.
Project Leader  

 

Introduction 

After FAO defined CF (Community Forest), first time in 1978, many changes in its concept and definition continued to remain. Community Forest movement in Nepal is regarded as one of the major exemplified, successful programmes that has impacted from the grassroots to national level economy, politics, governance and the process of deepening democracy as the successful aid led development intervention. With the consolidated efforts made by government and development partners for last more than three decades has become a point of departure while designing MSFP for the first time in Nepal. However, now it is in the juncture of history that MSFP is in the state of being phased out by July 15, 2016, leaving behind many unsolved mysteries.

In this backdrop, MSFP has been formulated, designed and modelled for inclusive economic development of those who invested their ample time and energy in safeguarding  Community Forest and protecting those women, Dalits, Janjatis, poor and climate change vulnerable population who have not been mainstreamed yet in the so called aid lead development of green governance in Nepal. MSFP envisages and maximizes the contributions of Nepal’s forestry sector to inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction and tackling impacts of climate change. Henceforth, advocating social and gender justice.

RRN, as a lead organisation in a joint venture arrangement with Forest Action (FA), has been implementing MSFP programme in four districts of Koshi hill i.e. Dhankuta, Terhathum, Sankhuwasabha and Bhojpur. Whereas, FA is responsible for piloting enterprise model, knowledge management and the documentation part of the programme. Equally, it is necessary to share that RRN is also massively working on knowledge management as the multiple donor versions during these two months are articulating and emphasising the fact that there has been a limited progress in this aspect.  Therefore, RRN decided to work towards this direction and has already initiated the actions in coordination with FA. The working modality and approach of the programme implementation is partnership arrangement with the local NGOs/CBOs, namely Local Implementing Partners (LIPOs).

Objectives

To improve the livelihoods and resilience of poor and disadvantaged people in Nepal, 

Specific objectives:

  • Create access for rural communities in the participatory management of forests and enhance associated governance at the local level (district, VDC and LFG level).
  • Support leadership development of local forestry groups with a focus on women and under-represented groups through targeted and intensive programmes.
  • Support to develop a critical mass of self-sustainable forest user groups that institutionalise good governance and inclusiveness.
  • Support poor, women, disadvantaged groups and vulnerable communities to enhance livelihood and to build community resilience through forestry.
  • Identify areas for collaboration to enhance private sector's engagement and investment in forestry.
  • Support in developing potential forestry value-chains and forest-based enterprises to create jobs at local level.
  • Support local communities in developing capacities for sustainable forest management and ecosystem resilience.
  • Transfer specific knowledge to other MSFP Lots and replicate specific knowledge from other Lots as appropriate.
  • Document and disseminate learning from MSFP and contribute to the national policy process.

Expected Results

  • - Government and non-state actors jointly and effectively implemented inclusive forest sector strategies, policies and plans
  • - Increased job opportunities in the private sector (farmers, entrepreneurs, and financial institutions) by investing in the forestry sector
  • - Rural communities-especially poor, disadvantaged and climate vulnerable people and households-benefited from local forest management and other investments
  • - Forests and trees sustainably managed and monitored by government, communities and private sector and climate resilient

Key Achievements 

  • 3 DFSCC and 2 DSM were conducted at the district level.
  • 69 multi-stakeholder structures formulated (AFEC).
  • 39 multi-stakeholder structures (AFEC) strengthened.
  • 3 existing forest-based enterprise strengthened, initially creating 8 jobs.
  • 7 new group enterprises established and initially created 60 jobs.
  • 113 CFUG supported on institutional plan preparation and self-monitoring. 
  • Coaching intensive/focus LFGs for LIP, Climate Change Management, and Forest Management & GPSE activities have been completed in 142 LFGs. 5053 LFG members participated in these coaching activities.
  •  Provided social mobilisation support to 60% of the LFG in all intensive VDCs, which enhanced the institutional development of LFG and improved the governance system of LFGs.
  • 40 LFGs were oriented on OP revision and constitutions of LFGs with considering GPSE, community adaptation plans (CAPs), active forest management, NTFPs and forest-based enterprise promotions have been completed.
  • 33 household are benefited from 13 LFGs from CF land utilisation activities.
  • 2620 HHs are benefited through Livelihood Improvement Plan (LIP) for DAG/ poor and climate vulnerable HHS.
  • 10 LAPA have been prepared and endorsed in the VDCs are 9. CAPA implementation can be seen in many VDCs-like a few activities, i.e. water resources/pond protection/ conservation/ wooden bridges have been made in few VDCs. 
  • 216 CAPA plans have been made; among them, 106 have been implemented and the rest are under processes.
  • 5017 climate change vulnerable households were climate change sensitised/benefited from CAPA preparation/implementation support; among them 2213 households were directly benefited from CAPA support. 

Impact on GESI and Environment

Social exclusion gained prominence in public discourse after it was included as one of four pillars of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which is also Nepal’s Tenth Plan. Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) or Gender, Poverty and Social Equity (GPSE) have been incorporated in all the activities. Issues around inclusion and exclusion are some of the prominent debate in the development sector today. A number of people at the margin of society are excluded from the mainstream development paradigm across the world and Nepal is no exception to it. Attempts are also being made to address the challenges around the issues of inclusion. However, many of such development initiatives, particularly in the context of Nepal, for last 70 years have not been able to address these issues properly. Consequently, a large number of ethnic minorities, women and Dalits, Disadvantaged Groups (DAGs) have been excluded from the mainstream national life.

Marginalised sections, including DAGs have been still isolated from the mainstream politics of green governance in the country. Within the democratic debate of CFUGs/LHFGs/Religious Forest/Government Owned Forest, we have experienced that the issues of margin and DAGs are rarely addressed. The need is to create a space for democratic debate and dialogue where each member of society can have their say. MSFP, in this regard, has been trying its utmost efforts to enable DAGs to have meaningful participation in such formal/informal forums/platforms. For this informed debate, a process of political empowerment and involvement is needed. GESI activities in the project areas have been instrumental in this regard. The culture of silence now is being transformed into participatory culture and way forward for deepening democracy in grassroots level.

MSFP foresees and capitalises on the contributions of Nepal’s forestry sector to inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction and tackling impacts of climate change. Therefore, the activities undergone in last three years have made a solid and concrete base in understanding the impacts of climate change and use of local knowledge and resources to fight against it while safeguarding forest sector, so that it may be used as the best tool for fighting with the changing contexts of climate change. In the same footing, people are sensitised and empowered on the various issues of climate change. Climate change in the past was merely a jargon in the community. Now, they act according to the sustainable Forest Management Plan and CAPA. In many places, water conservation/pond conservation/wooden bridges, dams exist to combat with the vulnerability of climate change, such as drought/landslide/soil erosion/flood. Income generating activities have been good support the population vulnerable to food insecurity. All activities have therefore, been conducted considering the ecosystem and environmental balance. Formation and or revision of Local Adaptation Plan for Action (LAPAs), Community Adaptation Plan of Action (CAPAs), their implementation,  sustainable forest management, payment for ecological services, Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) cultivation, nursery establishment and support,  watershed management coaching and  its integration  on CFOP, ecosystem-based adaptation-all have been designed and implemented in consideration with the environmental balance.

Lessons Learnt

  • Evidence-based monitoring can be best used for field monitoring activities, as they are the backbones of progress tracking, achievement versus target tracking, project cycle management tracking, and budget flow tracking. Thus, it provides a space to backtrack the project when necessary and even suggests resetting the indicators.
  • Women need to be more politically aware: initiatives to meet this need should be given emphasis and driven through. The goal must be to raise women to the level of being able to politicise and fight for their issues by themselves.
  • Involvement of users and executive members of LFGs (Local Forest Groups) in the project cycle, all the steps of the programme (planning, implementation, budgeting, evaluation periodic/ regular and monitoring increases the accountability, legitimacy, transparency, sense of belongingness and ownership which ensures meaningful participation of the right holders/beneficiaries and increases transparency of the programme and helps to achieve targeted outcome. It strengthens participatory democracy and alternative politics.
  • MSFP has been able to establish a good local foundation regarding inclusive economic development, poverty reduction, resilient communities and strengthened local governance issues, upon which we can look to build a good model of disseminating information on it. It is also a foundation upon which donors once have to reflect rather than the phasing out partners could link up with other initiatives and programs on it. 
  • MSFP makes a good entry point for RTI (Right to Information) interventions at the local level. 
  • Organised groups can be instrumental in the fight against injustice in the areas. Organised women's groups, in particular, should be encouraged, as they were seen to be especially effective. 
  • Thematic plan prepared after sensitising the Executive Committee and user groups of the LFG increases the ownership of the prepared plans and also creates awareness on the related issues and make a favourable environment for sustainability of the programme.
  • The self-monitoring method applied to make the LFGs understand the condition/status of LFG and then plan prepared accordingly created the sense of ownership towards the plan and expected the effective implementation of the planned activities. 
  • Supporting to LFGs' plan is the best way to balance need-based and target based planning approach and achieve MSFP’s objectives.