Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Annex 3 : Key note presentation by Fredrick Owino

 Some lessons from capacity building for national forest programmes in selected African countries

Presentation prepared for the Second Technical Meeting convened by the Forest Policy and Planning Division of FAO, November 24 – 25, 2003, Rome.

Fredrick Owino

Forest Resources International, P. O. Box 13762, Nairobi, Kenya. forin@kenyaweb.com

 

Preamble

 In the period between 1998 and 2003, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) implemented a capacity building for national forest programmes (nfp) project which revolved around regional workshops for training of key actors in nfp from 16 African countries, with support from the European Union, DFID, FAO and UNEP. The project also supported in-country training workshops on nfp process. The specific objectives of AAS nfp project were (i) to develop nfps as the framework for ensuring new, alternative and country-specific solutions to central forest policy and institutional issues, and (ii) to promote the application of nfp process, through training of key actors from participating countries. The project programme provided the much needed support to the selected countries (Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana). The project also made significant contributions to the on-going global dialogue on sustainable forest management (SFM) through its African Forestry Experts Group (AFEG). For example, AFEG made substantial impacts in the deliberations of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) and the Inter-governmental Forum on Forests (IFF). Having served as the co-ordinator of this project, I wish to share some of the experiences from the project with participants at this meeting.

 

Variation in nfp progress among countries

 The 16 countries had been deliberately selected to represent the wide variation, which exists among African countries, in progress with their nfps. The countries had the following profiles:

 Most of the countries had Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) based forest master but the processes had stalled either at the early planning phase, or immediately after the planning stage had been completed. In both cases, lack of local support, declining external support and weak political commitment have hampered smooth progress of the process;

 Though participation of NGOs, the private sector and civil society had been encouraged in some countries, the degree of their active consultation still leaves a lot to be desired;

Only a few of the countries (like Uganda and Malawi) had adopted cross-sectoral approaches in formulating their nfps in the overall context of the agriculture and land use policies. But even in these countries, dialogue and coordination still remained constrained by weak articulation of sectoral policies and often dispersed and uncoordinated institutions;

 Updating of the nfps had been carried out within a 5-year period of implementation in only three of the countries (Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana). Interestingly, a few nfps, which could not be implemented due to lack of support, had also been revised (Ethiopia), even before they been implemented on the ground; and

 Most of the countries had embarked on their nfp process at the instigation and support of donors and the process stalled upon withdrawal of donor support.

 

Objectives of the qualitative assessment

General

 Towards the end of the AAS nfp project, an attempt was made to assess progress made in some of the countries in moving their nfp process forward, as supported by the project. The main objective was to determine the extent to which project beneficiaries (key actors) had achieved any improvement/facilitation in their roles back in their countries. The approach and methods adopted in this assessment recognized that an nfp is a country-specific and country-owned process, which aims through multi-sectoral collaboration to negotiate, re-examine and design new roles, rights and responsibilities of various stakeholders towards SFM. It was recognized that the nfp process requires changes in working style such as sustaining participatory consultations with a broad array of stakeholders. Realizing that there is no single factor or mix of factors that will guarantee nfp effectiveness, and with the limited experience at that time, it was decided to approach the assessment from a qualitative viewpoint and with an impressionistic view. For example, the assessment aimed to identify and evaluate the deliberate choices, decisions and implementation initiatives developed by each country to design and put into practice an nfp process. The assessment attempted to unearth (i) how past planning and policy processes had taken shape, (ii) what the implications of these efforts are in terms of forest policy development and institutional reforms, (iii) how successful they have been in retrospect, and (iv) what still needs to be done.

 Towards that end, the evaluators developed an Evaluation Framework (EF) that attempts to demonstrate past lessons and experiences through an elaborated set of criteria and indicators. While this enabled rational comparison of progress in the four countries selected, it is essential to realize that each process is different and therefore requires an innovative, flexible, and adaptive approach to its assessment. Furthermore, it is important to note that this three-tiered framework is a first attempt, drawing from little monitoring and evaluation experience on nfp processes. As a result, the EF remains a working document consistently being redrafted in accordance with greater understanding of the requirements that will make the process an effective agent of change.

 

Level I Assessment: Design and implementation arrangements 

 This level of assessment focused on the structural arrangements in place to get the NFP up and running may be defined by a well-positioned cohesive system of individuals and organizations that make the best use of their resources to attain high levels of widespread political commitment and momentum. The organization and composition of these structures are without a doubt a key factor in mobilizing interest from within and outside of the forestry circles. This mobilization is perhaps the greatest added value of the nfp approach - achieving consent and agreement by all stakeholders on a vision for the sector and way forward by all those contributing to the management of forest resources.

 

Assessing the key institutional government apparatus designed to drive the process from inception to the implementation and monitoring phases will be crucial in gaining a better understanding of why successes and bottlenecks to progressive change are occurring. A useful start in evaluating these structural arrangements moving the process is to document who has been and who is involved in the various units, groups, committees and forums to allow for quality consultations and dialogue

 Among other things this level of investigation included evaluating the:

 Level II Assessment: Procedural requirements

 There are several procedural requirements that should be followed when developing an nfp process. Experience from elsewhere suggested that there are three critical internal processes needed - information gathering, building consensus and policy building. In practical terms this means that there are key initiatives needed, such as sector reviews that aim to fill information and analysis gaps, eventually assisting in the design and feasibility of future policy measures. At the same time, the value of these reviews will only remain high if proper country led discussion and negotiation is undertaken to gain widespread understanding and agreement amongst the multiple stakeholder groups who have a role in making the nfp a reality on the ground. Ownership at all levels, will be required to instigate the necessary policy, legal and institutional changes that are needed to encourage participation and foster horizontal and vertical partnerships within and across sectors. The goal of the nfp in this regard is to promote ownership and keep the widespread debate of forestry issues 'alive' continuing throughout society to overcome the limitations of past planning frameworks (i.e., Tropical Forest Action Plan) that were never fully endorsed or implemented.

 In the aspects of policy, planning and reform initiatives, various elements that the nfp concept is based upon were chosen for detailed evaluation, in an effort to improve the policy and regulatory environment, promote collaborative initiatives and strengthen sector institutions. In constructing a picture of how these elements are being put into practice, the evaluators have loosely appraised what specific actions have been taken, their direction or purpose and sequence in which they are taken, and the environment in which they occur. Consequently, the evaluators intended to measure what extent the process is progressing via the central Forest Authority (FA) initiatives. Based on experiences thus far it becomes evident that the FA will undertake various critical steps in their national strategic planning efforts. Some criterion demonstrating these efforts is highlighted in the EF as illustrated below

 In terms of process principles, it was recognized that the nfp approach is unique in its significant emphasis placed upon how these processes are initiated, designed, debated, agreed, promoted, implemented and monitored. Some key traits of what makes the nfp different from past national planning processes in the forest sector include whether or not the FA and other key stakeholders have:

 

 Level III Assessment: nfp in the context of overall national development

 The profile, whether high or low placed upon forests by governments, is largely based upon the overall contribution forest resources make to the national economy and wider society, is reflected through the adoption of varying management practices (i.e., emphasis on production versus conservation). Some countries are way ahead of the game in achieving sustainable forestry principles, have overcome challenges faced by others, and as a result will have varying priority areas of concern in the nfp process. Consequently, experience suggests that the content of each nfp product will be shaped according to the strategic intervention point and foundation it is built upon (i.e., commercial/production, poverty alleviation, environment or rural development), and therefore will vary from one process to the next.

Main points and lessons learned

General status of forestry institutions

 As compared to other sectors, forestry institutions in the sub-region are weak. Despite frequently expressed government concerns with environment and forests, the sector is accorded low development priority in most of the countries. For example, in Ethiopia the once strong Forest Department has to a “Forestry Team” within a department of Environment and Forestry within the Ministry of Agriculture. The once robust and respected Kenya Forest Department has lately been much maligned and is currently undergoing a complete purge. The key problem with this progressive weakening of forestry institutions is that they have become marginalized in national development priority. It is real dilemma that as the countries wake up to the critical roles of forests and environment, they have greatly weakened relevant institutions with which to address the imperatives. Moreover, the weak institutions are pushed to the periphery in pecking order for both local and external support. Thus, government budget allocations to forestry institutions have steadily declined in all the countries. 

 The factors which have led to the above unsatisfactory situation include inappropriate policies and weaknesses in their implementation, rising land use conflicts, illegal forest activities including corruption among forestry staff, declining donor support, etc. There is need for radical policy and institutional reforms to re-orient and revamp the current weak forestry institutions. Once this is accomplished, more resources can be realized for the institutions, including forestry research institutions. It is unlikely that increased support for research can be sustained without the policy and institutional reforms. It is important that research managers and researchers also address the underlying policy and institutional issues. Uganda is one of the leading countries in addressing the necessary policy and institutional reforms.

 Participation

 In sharp contrast to the previous situation where the public forest administration (PFA) was the referee as well as the dominant player in the sector, it is becoming the practice, in most of the countries, to formulate and implement national forest programmes which recognize and promote roles and contributions from various players ranging from government agencies, NGOs, tree farmers, private sector, local communities, etc. Thus, the roles of new players and actors like the private sector, NGO, CBO, civil society, etc. are now fully recognized and articulated in the new national forest programmes (nfp) while there is significant role change in PFA from the previous centralized executing/implementing agency to a largely regulatory and standard setting agency. The key actors and their roles are shown in Table1.

 Specifically, new forest policies of the countries give more emphasis to community, tree farmer and private sector participation forest management. This emphasis on participation by other players is not only in line with the new forest principles but is also in recognition of the direct roles which forests play in providing basic needs and in poverty alleviation for local communities. For example, managing forests with people participation is fast gaining popularity in different parts of the world where it is practised in the forms of “Collaborative Forest Management” or “Joint Forest Management” or simply “Community Forest Management”.

 While these community based initiative show some promise in the future, they are still beset by deep seated mistrust between PFA and community organizations with PFA retaining decision making and community groups lacking know how and negotiating powers. In most cases, community groups merely offer labour for forest protection and management.

 Table 1. Key actors and corresponding roles in the forest sector 

 

 

Actions

                                       Actors

Central government

Local government

NGO/Civil society

Private sector

Formulation and revision of policy and legislation (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Minor contributor

Minor contributor

Observer

Development of national strategies and plans (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Observer

Minor contributor

Minor contributor

Management of forest reserves and protected forest areas (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Secondary responsibility

Communities provide support

Contributor

Management of plantations on government land

Lead responsibility (all countries)

Supporting role (all countries)

May provide support

- Observer (all countries)

- Limited participation (Uganda and Tanzania)

Forestry research (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Observer

International NGOs contribute

Contributor

Forestry extension (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Supporting role

Contributor

Observer

Management of private plantations/woodlots (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania)

Advisory role

Supporting role

Secondary role

Lead role

Licensing of activities under the Forests Act

Lead responsibility (all countries)

Lead responsibility for Local Council forests (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania)

Observer

Observer

Observer

Training for forestry staff (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Observer

Supporting role

Contributor

Integration with regional/international forest initiatives (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Observer

Contributor

Contributor

Development of investment and trade

Lead responsibility (all countries)

Observer

Supporting role

Emerging lead responsibility (Kenya, U ganda, Tanzania)

Observer (other countries)

Monitoring and evaluation of implementation (all countries)

Lead responsibility

Contributor

Contributor

Contributor

 

  The need to sustain an active nfp team

 Experience in some countries indicate that best practice in nfp implementation is to put in place an effective “NFP Team” to drive the process. The team, constituting the key actors in the process, must be clearly defined and enabled to operate with maximum flexibility across sectors. The team need to be fully supported to ensure continuous participation by the many stakeholders. The extent to which the team remains active and well co-ordinated is an important determinant of nfp progress. 

Support for policy and institutional reforms

 The AAS nfp project learnt some important early lessons were learned which should inform future directions for such support. Firstly, that existing capacities in many African countries to formulate and implement holistic nfps is very limited and calls for more substantial and longer-term support. Secondly, that in the early stages, support should focus on the needed policy and institutional reforms. For countries, which have already accomplished these, the support should focus on strategic planning for forest sector activities. Thirdly, that the issue of country ownership of the nfp process should be addressed right from the onset of intended support. The complementary roles and responsibilities of country and regional organizations in the capacity building initiatives need to be clearly defined.

 

Regional collaboration

 Learning from the above lessons, it has become clear that new partnerships are needed for sustained and more effective capacity building for nfps. For example, there is need to forge partnership with other continental organizations and to work with, and through the existing sub-regional organisations and initiatives such as the African Timber Organisation (ATO), the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), the Permanent Inter-States Committee for Combating Drought in the Sahel (CILSS), the Inter Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Congo Basin initiative, CEFDHAC, COMIFAC, etc. Moreover, the support should be linked directly to relevant country processes/initiatives in order to ensure country ownership.

 

The potential role of NEPAD  

Perhaps the most important lesson, learnt from AAS nfp project, is that the required policy and institutional reforms often call for high-level political advocacy and sharing of experiences among countries. The New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), being the highest profile political forum on development has great potential role to play in mobilizing political and material support for nfps in the continent.

 

Some suggestions for future development

 The experiences from this project have clearly indicated that, for the primary target beneficiaries (key actors) to better positioned to make a change in their countries, they need more follow-up support in their in-country processes.

 Training of trainers approach adopted can be efficient and effective. However, for an area which is new to most beneficiaries, they need several exposures to the workshop to attain reasonable proficiency. Such initiatives should therefore be planned over much longer time frames.

 

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page