Republic of Uganda
Assessment of participatory processes in national forest programmes
24-25 November 2003
LTS International Ltd.
Forestry Inspection Division, Uganda
Be well organised, with clear team / group structures, procedures and ways of working.
In carrying out their work, the architects of QAT found it beneficial to consider how other monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks presented qualitative aspects of mainstay NFP components (e.g., policy, legal and institutional reform exercises). With this knowledge and experience brought together, the current version of QAT is structured along four distinct levels of assessment:
Level Three: Triggers and outcomes of the NFP: what are key support areas (e.g., setting up an autonomous forest service) and subsequent targets realised (e.g., better private forestry), so as to sustain the forestry sector.
Lesson 1.1. A focus on forestry specific steering groups and extent of stakeholder representation are not always the most suitable indicators for M&E. Leadership, credibility of the group, getting a political champion to support the cause, and access to the high policy table dialogue influence the quality, impact, performance and sustainability of the process.
Lesson 1.2. The Secretariat drove and determined the level of participation during planning. Efficiency and sustainability was dependent on its internal management capacity, ability to form strategic alliances key individuals, manage these relationships amidst civil service traditions. Willingness to take bold moves and position itself within the margins of government structures were important factors.
Lesson 1.3. The quality, cost, performance and outcomes delivered by a Working Group directly relate to organisational aspects. The groups size, continuity and synergy between its members and chairperson, manner in which vested personal and institutional interest are managed, capacity to interpret issues and devise solutions are all important factors for M&E.
Lesson 1.4. In terms of cost effectiveness and impact, the Conference needs to structure debate and negotiate in such a way that the Minister to the small farmer can relate, measuring the balance of technical and political content is important for M&E, and how outcomes feed and are sustained within public planning processes.
Level 2: Principles that govern the NFP
QAT explores the principles that characterise 'process',
agreed with provisions that their incorporation would help overcome bottlenecks
plaguing past forest sector-wide initiatives. Government ownership, inter-sectoral
co-ordination and awareness raising are particularly important in Uganda.
Three relevant lessons have emerged.
(1). Ensuring government ownership that drives the process.
In Uganda, a country where 52% of the country's cashflow is subject to donor
contributions, structured involvement of the donor contingency is a fundamental
part of the NFP process. Many insiders would argue that government's ability
to communicate the NFP process to fit within donor terms and conditions, often
sporadic in nature (e.g., budget support as a recent policy shift), is a true
test of who is in the drivers' seat. At first the donors met infrequently,
to share views, ideas and experiences, as a forum for wider review. Over
the years communication between the donors, through the Secretariat, has improved,
and some very practical partnerships have been developed. Process-oriented
interventions that offer flexibility in planning and budgeting have been critical
for the Secretariat (a short-term strategic donor backed institution) to manevour
through complex policy processes, while retaining an adequate degree of government
ownership. For the most part, relationships between relevant actors in host
governments, their development partners (and respective contractors) are supportive.
Lesson 2.1. The capacity of civil servants to deal
with their development partners is crucial for managing relationships. The
extent to which firm conditions are set, the manner in which communication
takes place between parties, and the ability of the contracted change agent
to manage multiple masters are important indicators for an M&E process.
Strengthening inter-sectoral co-ordination at national
and local levels. At a minimum, ‘co-ordination’ can begin with communication
and sharing of information - letting people know what’s going on. It can
extend up to ensuring that all the players in the sector, working together
towards shared goals, made all decisions collectively. Before the Secretariat
could co-ordinate the sector with others, it had to know what we were bringing
together – a broad understanding of the sector and all its players and their
attributes is extremely helpful to designing the right kind of co-ordination
approaches. On a national level, co-ordination is evident through the emergence
of cross-sectoral planning inertia evolving with a new Environment and Natural
Resources Sector SWAP, led by a Working Group that involves all relevant ministries.
Since its inception in 2000, forestry has, and continues to be very effective
in arguing its cross-cutting sectoral features through this forum. As exciting
as the national SWAP, for the first time in 100+ years a long established
sector tradition of exclusiveness is being broken. Although still too early
to judge outcomes, co-ordination of relevant productive sectors via District
Forestry Development Planning processes is now taking place in 4 of the 56
Lesson 2.2. The Secretariat was able to
informally lobby, maximise personal contacts to bring people together, and
deal with trade-offs at the national levels by taking advantage of an emerging
willingness to ‘join-up’ sister institutions. The spirit of forestry advisory
support decentralised in districts has led to far-reaching approaches to
planning that now involve officials outside the Department, and hopefully
will be mainstreamed within the district development budgeting cylces and
Communicating forestry issues in a professional manner
to raise awareness. Generating 'societal dialogue' through closed workshops
is evidently not adequate. Widespread marketing initiatives that place a new
face or image of forestry is what is needed during change processes. Uganda
has used media programmes with changing themes to keep people interested in
sectoral developments that impact their lives. An effective information dissemination
strategy was informed from a baseline survey on stakeholders’ awareness and
perceptions of forestry issues. The marketing efforts benefited from professional
communications support, and our vibrant production of material, especially
the policy statement and briefing notes is a positive feature that distinguishes
us from our African neighbours. Radio is used as an appropriate medium for
distributing information on political matters. Regular monthly external newsletters,
done jointly with forestry advocates were obvious ways to facilitate information
flows. Bumper stickers and Tree Talk magazine were excellent to bring on board
schools and the public at large. The role of communication is often under-emphasised,
and under-budgeted, but it has been critical. The initial budget of USD$ 90,000
projected over 5 years ended up being roughly USD$ 800,000.
Lesson 2.3. Impact from a visible communication effort
is found by an increased profile of forestry, press coverage is now common,
and public awareness is most definitely raised. Co-ordinated efforts with
other players should be done to reduce costs, and targeting the young is one
way to have long-lasting impact.
Level Three: Triggers and outcomes from the NFP
Identifying stakeholder groups and reviewing qualitative
issues influencing the forest sector. At the beginning of reforms, public
perceptions of forestry had become strongly linked to negative perceptions
of the Forestry Department. In order to develop more integrated forest policy,
a sector review was conducted to help understand the key issues, players,
and dynamics of the sector. Within this context, the Review of Initiatives
(RoI) provided a qualitative balance to a typical technical review
process, by capturing and learning from ‘voices from the field’. The RoI was
useful to demonstrate that ‘forestry’ extended beyond the Forestry Department,
to a wide range of players across the sector, and helped those involved in
policy development to understand what the activities, distribution, motivations
and needs of those players were. During the RoI process, natural suspicions
of motives for collecting information were afloat. These could have been avoided
if the purpose of the exercise was communicated more clearly to those involved.
Lesson 3.1. As far as impact, the RoI has strengthened
the case for linkages of livelihoods data with forestry, and forestry-related
questions are now mainstreamed within the national household survey. In
terms of quality and extent, the process was very successful in capturing
many unheard voices.
Developing a forest policy that is nationally-owned and
addresses concerns beyond the Forestry Department. In Uganda, developing
the policy was a process of moving from suspicion and conflict to building
consensus and confidence, through extensive consultation. There were a number
of underlying conflicts in the policy discussions and the Secretariat had
to deal with these. The consultative policy process really brought ownership
– the Policy would not have been accepted or really noticed without it. At
the policy formulation stage it would have been easier to just publish a document
drafted by a consultant as done in other countries, but it would not have
been effective. Persistent invitations to consultations and time were important,
and building on the RoI results forced the Forestry Department staff to see
outside their narrow box. Engagement and getting commitment amongst doubters
meant working though a sector vision with the participation of many new players,
and selling far-reaching ideas within the corridors of an uncooperative Forestry
Department and key ministries. The policy, at the output stage, became a neutral
and widely accepted rallying point for further reforms.
Lesson 3.2. In terms of cost effectiveness, policy
formulation was the first costly endeavour, and without this level of input
and effort to get policy ownership, the eventual new legislation would have
been very difficult to progress. The process has been about getting the
right personalities working together, being tactful at the right levels
of bureaucracy, and persistently selling the vision.
Mobilising investment from public sources of finance.
Like most developing countries with a weak private sector, financing forestry
in Uganda is mainly being sought through domestic public resources. In absence
of public expenditure, real political commitment to forestry is put into question.
Whilst the NFP provides a vision and presents a costed framework for action,
there is no evidence as of yet that it provides an implementation framework
that can necessarily attract and utilise funding efficiently. Exception is
made to the NFA whereby a joint-donor basked fund has been created. Otherwise,
most long-term strategies focus on identifying ways to generate cash through
improved revenue collection and pricing systems that capture a fair share
of the resource rent. Results are marginal at best, and will continue to be
until the NFA is launched and established new systems. Attempts to tap into
ring-fenced Poverty Action Funds were met without success, and not because
the poverty-forestry case wasn't strong, rather the cake was already eaten.
Not surprisingly, forestry as a government priority in the PRSC matrix has
not meant more investment from the public pool of funds, and it is doubtful
it ever will as the shrinking pie is divided in too many slices. Public-private
partnerships are not established at the present.
Lesson 3.3. Whether or nor public investment will
ever reach the forestry sub-sector is notionally unclear. All the right
buttons are being pushed, perhaps it is too early to tell. Met by changing
government priorities on preferred channelling of international support
through the central budget, in all likelihood, efforts thus fare will not
avail positive outcomes. More creative financing means are required.
Shaping, planning and launching the National Forestry
Authority (NFA). The centrepiece of institutional reform is the establishment
of the NFA, traced backed to 1998 demands for restructuring the Forestry Department.
Three main phases characterise the process: initiating the idea and getting
buy-in; business and operational planning; and corporate governance and recruitment.
Today, Uganda is in the last of these phases with a new Board of Directors
recently appointed. The shake-up of the Forestry Department was very much
top-down, initiated amidst larger public sector reform driven by the Ministry
of Public Service. There however was not clear agreement across the sector
of what was needed. Antagonism against the NFA by FD headquarters staff persisted,
and resistance to change, largely due to fear of loss of jobs, influenced
the level of participation required to successfully establish the new organisation.
The Secretariat felt more comfortable trying to tighten up the plans and predictions
before widely sharing them, strengthening the case before discussing it. The
Working Group, designed to win and build political support from other ministries
succeed in its efforts, but only partly due to vested interest and veto power
amongst certain individuals. As of late, productive relationships with the
Department and its core projects (financing instruments) has been instrumental
in advancing operational planning, mending relationships, and resolving doubts
as the launch becomes a reality in early 2004.
Lesson 3.4. Conflict management approaches are
essential during hard-hitting institutional change processes. Few in the
forest sector had an understanding of what the NFA was, non-one had experience
of how it could work, the fear of the unknown pervaded for a long time.
Testing NFA approaches, bringing sabetours close to the process, and using
success stories elsewhere all helped get needed buy-in
Encouraging civil society to advocate, lobby and assume a
watchdog role. In Uganda, the governments’ relationship with civil society
is increasingly open, transparent and organised. Naturally, this has fostered
an attitudinal shift amongst decision-makers in the civil forestry service.
The level and scope of involvement amongst these interest groups is best captured
by the creation of the Uganda Forestry Working Group (UFWG), a loose association
of more than 50 national and local civil society organisations. Because of
the civil society vacuum in forestry, in 2001 the Secretariat helped finance
the establishment of the Group, although it yet a legal entity. Since then,
UFWG co-ordinator’s widely consult with NFP planners on a regular basis. The
Group's members are able to provide government with technical support on policy
analysis and development. Unfortunately, its limited resources to co-ordinate
and drive their planned initiatives have hampered their ability to become
an effective advocacy forum. A joint effort with the FID to collaborate on
accessing financial support from the NFP Facility is an indicative measure
of how governments centre and the UFWG perceive each other as part and parcel
of the same cause. The next challenge is to UFWG members co-ordinated on the
ground where the trees grow.
Lesson 3.5. The Secretariat seeded the development
of the NGO network, and at hands length managed any doubt of its role in
the institutional landscape as inherent within the civil service syndrome.
The legitimacy of UFWG, and its access to the minister hinges largely on
it becoming a legally established entity of organised members.
Leveraging the private sector to practice better forestry.
Positive efforts are being instituted to create a supportive climate for private
sector investment. The private sector welcomes invitations to be involved
in the policy process, but often complains about cheap talk in absence of
real action. It appears to be a mix of poor management of expectations and
failure get over the lack of trust with government. It is difficult to gauge
if the private operators are really ready to change. In most senses, the private
sector is very split, those who genuinely wish to raise their standards, while
others are up to business as usual. Because of there is no real cohesiveness,
the sawmiller sub-sector represented by the Uganda Forest Industries Development
Association (UFIDA) does not accurately portray the interests of all its members.
UFIDA's organisational problems, along with very recent internal factioning,
and individual connections with political elite has good governance in the
sector very difficult. As a result, getting genuine commitment from the private
sector to make sound and responsible investments is marginal at best. Eventually,
we hope buy-in could be achieved once market distortions dissipate, contracts
for licences in central forest reserves become fair, marketing of wood product
information is available, and the Sawlog Production Scheme gets up and running.
Most are in the early stages of development, and/or still await the arrival
of the NFA.
Lesson 3.6. An immature private sector with little
incentive to change or invest in the long term, operating within a corrupt
culture of doing things, and poorly organised, offers little basis to build
up participation. A competitive forest product market with adequate linkages
between the forest, industry and the market place, can only evolve once
credibility is restored.
The method and approach to assess participation
Lessons learnt from the Uganda QAT exercise suggest that
the QAT itself as a checklist of assessment indicators, guided by four levels
of assessment, would further benefit by incorporating three cross-cutting
The impact of participation on outcomes and performance
of the sector: In Uganda, stakeholder participation resulted in a clear
understanding of roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and created ownership
and uptake of NFP as a reference document for forestry developments. There
is increased confidence of the private sector and civil society in participating
in forestry developments, and greater understanding of forestry and poverty.
It has contributed to raising the voice of the sector, which has gained more
recognition at the national and international levels, and led to better co-ordination
of sectoral priorities. Is forestry any better off in terms of management
and generating investment? This still remains to be seen in the immediate
Quality, intensity and extent of participation: The preparation of the Uganda NFP has been a national undertaking. The level of participation and quality of information obtained from the large numbers of participants during certain fora was however questioned. While acknowledging the importance of all stakeholders, there is need to keep a balance between representation, and the size of the consultation groups. Some of the stakeholders may participate directly in the process, while others may be consulted or involved in some other ways. But most important is to create awareness and keep the stakeholders close to the NFP process through an effective information dissemination strategy, dealing with antagonism, and allowing free expression.
In light of the method and approach employed
(doing a quick and dirty exercise), the qualitative assessment faced a few
hurdles and limitations, including:
The context of assessment at two different stages is required
to gauge real impact. The Uganda NFP process has only recently been formulated,
and only now are actors seriously considering implementation. On the surface,
the Ugandan NFP seems to be very much in line with international principles
of participation, and the strategies address the needs of most stakeholders.
The relative immaturity of the implementation phase however makes it difficult
to assess in real terms on how governance in the sector has improved and the
durability of the new institutional framework established to implement reforms.
Whilst some new approaches to forestry exist, after five years of planning,
the impact being felt on the ground is limited. In most respects forestry
governance is worse, not any better. This is partly due to the fact that Uganda
is now at the crux of reform, the old empire is crumbling and contentious
issues are in the public domain - all outcomes of opening up the sector through
participation. Assessors recognised that in order to gauge the 'value for
money' or 'return on investment' of participatory exercises, assessment must
be done during at least two stages - the formulation process, and then once
A stakeholders perception needs to be taken within the context of their involvement: Perceptions of cause and effect relationships between the time an issue is presented, a decision taken, and consequent action, are naturally difficult things to gauge. Communicating an individual’s experience with involvement, at whatever stage and in whatever manner, can easily be deliberately twisted by the concerned party, who often has vested interests in the outcomes of the process. In this respect, assessors found it difficult to decipher the extent to which participation was done well.
Short fieldwork can never account for the long-time frame of events: NFP processes are long term endeavours lasting years and are difficult to grasp in the allocated time of assessment (10 days). A general level of detail can only be unearthed due to the scope of intelligence gathered within a limited ‘fieldwork’ period. Assessors did not feel confident in presenting detailed findings of specific areas without a proper comprehensive analysis of technical issues
 For more information on participation in the Uganda NFP process
see: Khaukha, Stephen. Enhancing Participation in NFP Process: Ugandan Experience. Paper presented
at the FAO Technical Meeting on NFPs,
 For more information on the comparative analysis
 For more
information on relevant methodologies being developed see: Mayers and Bass. Building Good Governance: A diagnostic
planning tool. International Institute for Environment and Development,