(assessment of the stakeholders’ participation in the evaluation of forest policy)
Kyrgyz-Swiss Forestry Support Programme, Intercooperation
The process of the new forest policy elaboration in Kyrgyzstan has started in 1997, with the analysis of the current situation in the forestry sector of Kyrgyzstan and until present the following important steps on this way could be mentioned:
1999 -National Forest Policy Concept - setting of strategic political goals (for 20-25 years) and main direction lines for their achievement
1999-New Forest Code – as legal framework for the implementation of policy Concept
2001-”Programme LES”-Action Plan for 2001-2005, with concrete activities, oriented to results
2003 – Evaluation of the Forest Policy
At each step of the process, the main approach applied, was the involvement of various stakeholders in the formulation of plans, definition of priorities, potentials and needs for changes.
Why was it so important to make assessment of the forest policy at such an early initial stage of its implementation? The participatory process, universally recognized in democratic countries, was a new phenomenon in Kyrgyzstan when the process of forest policy formulation was started in 1997. The participants of the process had, within a very short period of time, to learn how to analyze the possibilities, potentials, and risks, to make strategic plans for the future and avoid getting caught in an endless loop of momentary problems, to find a possibility for a compromise when discussing opposite points of view. Moreover, the political, economic, and social environment in the country has been continuously changing. Even the organization, which is responsible for implementation of the forest policy (at present, the State Forest Service under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic) has changed its status 4 times over this period. International programs and projects started to be active in the different spheres of sector: beginning with conservation of biodiversity, harmonization of the legislation and ending up with development of small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in processing of forest products, thus bringing their own requirements and priorities.
The process of assessment of the forest policy with involvement of all stakeholders was chosen as a means for forming, based on a variety of expressed points of view, a common vision on the achieved results in the implementation of the National Forest Policy as well as to determine the further steps and to develop the adapted activities.
- What is the actual situation? (state of art) How are the decisions being implemented? What is being done to ensure efficient implementation of decisions? What was working well?
2.1 Sequence of logical steps of evaluation as occurred in Kyrgyzstan
- The evaluation process itself through workshops, seminars, interviews.
- Discussion of the main facts and findings during a National Conference Discussion and proposal of possible improvement and re-orientation of some activities in implementation of the national forest policy, also during a National Conference
- Presentation of results of evaluation and suggested improvements and adaptations to high officials of the Republic.
Work done by the core group:
A specially trained core group, with methodological support of international expert of forest policy, has adjusted and applied techniques and methodology for participatory evaluation of forest policy.
The process of evaluation, with the technique of cards on board in the course of workshops and discussions organised all over the country, took 7 months.
Results of the workshops gave information about the achieved results, limitations in the implementation and constraints, and the proposals for the future changes. During the workshops, the tasks within the working group were distributed in the following way: - "moderator" for the discussions; "controller" - in order to guarantee comprehensive coverage of the topic, with additional questions if needed; "secretary" for detailed minutes.
The data available in the State Forest Agency have been also systematised for complementing quantitative assessment of the realisation.
Matrix elaborated for this purpose was completed with indicators.
A synthesis report on the information, collected during the field work, and comp lemented by factual data, comprised about 50 pages and was used as a basis for writing the draft report of evaluation of the national forest policy.
A final draft report (22 pages) on the evaluation of forest policy was prepared by the core group through regrouping the overlapping issues, and cutting out the unrealistic statements form the synthesis report.
A summary and an executive summary of the report were prepared for general readers.
The work of the working group has been permanently directly and indirectly followed up and supported by an International Expert of Forest policy.
The National Conference
- A National Conference has been organised for presentation and discussion of the draft report presented by the core-group. About 80 specialists, from different levels of the forest service, covering all the regions of Kyrgyzstan, participated in the Conference.
- 4 working groups, comprised of the participants of the Conference, with moderators from the core group, and helped by the "cards on boards” , technique, discussed the main topics, which were sill not clear after the process, in relation to the future adaptations:
- Community based Forest Management and leasing;
- Transfer of productive functions to non-state structures;
- The role of various levels of the forest service;
- The personnel policy at the State Forestry Service.
The main conclusions of these working groups were discussed and presented in the final evaluation report as priorities to be implemented in the next years.
* Press conferences organised both at the beginning and at the end of the process;
* Publications about the evaluation process both in the National newspapers and specialised forestry magazine;
* Official presentation of the evaluation results to the high officials;
* Acceptance of the report by the Governmental structures
* Broadest possible dissemination of the final accepted version of the report
- Rationalist framework: expert assessment, based on data (mainly quantitative) of the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation of pre-defined activities; a core group was organised, being in charge of providing this expertise based on a simple methodology. This framework was carried out as a first stage in the process of evaluation.
- Communicative framework: semi-open meetings with a pre-determined procedure at national, regional and local field levels for collection of additional data and confronting with the local opinions; core group was in charge of organising the related workshops, and of carrying out possible additional experts' studies and coordinating the results from the workshops.
- Expected results from the action detailed
- Objectives and step by step approach
- Means (human, financial, organisational)
- Constraints detailed and analysed
- Indicators of achievement (quantitative, qualitative)
3.1 Principles, criteria, indicators and verifiers
“Principles - framework statements, fundamental
"laws" or "rules of the game", which embody human wisdom
about sustainable forest management (SFM) They can be referred to general
utilities of the forest or to the general social system that interacts with
it”. Examples: in the case of Kyrgyzstan, they were linked with Conservation
of biodiversity, poverty alleviation etc.
“Criteria - basic standards to measure the progresses towards meeting the principles. Criteria are usually expressed as a state or condition in which an aspect of the forest or community should be, or is a process that needs to be in place.” Examples of the criteria applied in Kyrgyzstan: the image of the State Forest Service has increased; local population is actively promoting sustainable use of the forest resources, etc.
As related to the other aspects such as Indicators and Verifiers were not practically applied during the process at a regular basis due to the unreliability of the data, as no permanent monitoring over the policy concept implementation was set up.
Indicators – information - the components or variables
of the forest or management system that imply or indicate the state and conditions
required by a criterion. Examples of indicators as applied in Kyrgyzstan:
forest rangers are involved in the management planning; household incomes
directly benefit from the sales of forest products.
Verifiers – are the data or information needed for assessing an indicator, and also sometimes the procedures which are needed to collect this information or data. Examples: number of people involved in Community based Forest Management; area of created plantations.
Finally, Criteria, Indicators and Verifiers in the process
of Forest Policy evaluation in Kyrgyzstan were used to:
* express what Sustainable Forest Management means for various actors;
* assess results against predefined objectives;
* monitor impacts of decisions
* record changes;
* adapt strategies basing on what is learnt from
the assessment process,
Developing CIV is the first step in an assessment process.
* based on the Forest Policy Concept, definition of criteria related to the 10 strategic lines of the national policy document;
* based on the Forestry Law and the Les Programme, definition of indicators and verifiers to be looked at during the evaluation process.
Table 2. Cribs for the Core group. Example of Kyrgyzstan
3 ethical conditions for the evaluation
* not to have pre-conceived ideas (clean thinking);
* objective attitude, regardless of anything, all the opinions should be considered;
* no extremes (all the points are considered and a synthesis is made on their basis)
4 technical aspects of the evaluation
* keep to defined criteria and rules
* keep to the defined group of questions:
- what? - what has been done?
- How? - how it was achieved?
- With whom? - who are the actors
- What for the activities were undertaken?
* Apply measurable data (quantity aspects)
Preparation of the workshop for evaluation.
* Potential participants should be contacted before the workshop, for the
information about the objectives and ideas of the evaluation.
What kind of in formation should be given in the course of the preparation?
* minimum guidance about the procedure (what kind of aspects will be covered, main notions);
* the expected results;
* structure and topics for discussion;
* use the policy concept as a basis for the questionnaire.
Collection of information:
* from discussions during the workshops, both during the formal discussion and from comments;
• collection of the data separate from the workshops
* focus on the questions: "what has been done? What was good? Why? What did not work? Why? What has changed? (impact) Suggestions for improvement”
* keep in mind that it is easier to suggest something than to describe.
How the WG member should behave
* do not express (impose) your own opinion - it is impossible to evaluate and participate at the same time;
* all the WG members should make notes during the discussion, so that to compliment each other;
* exclude the suggestions which are not concrete;
* do not ask the participants to conclude something what has not been done, otherwise they will think that they did something not too good;
* do not ask to write the names of the participants.
How to treat disputable questions
* do not aim at agreement, try to reach a compromise;
* use cards only for initiation of discussion;
* but use less cards and more discussion (with strict minutes);
• do not be carried away by the discussion.
- Determination of effectiveness and efficiency
- How effective and efficient was the implementation of various policy directive
lines at the field level, compared to their identification during the policy
- Determination of the major changes occurred in
the global economic, social and political contexts. What is the incidence
of the permanently changing conditions of the transition period on the way
the policy reform is being carried out in the forestry field?
- Identification of strong and weak points - Which elements of the policy have been best understood and implemented, and why?
Were any of the previously stated problems solved? What are the points where
the implementation was weak? What are the reasons for the failure in implementation?
What was working well and what was not working.?
- Identification of the needs for changes
- how to proceed to be more successful in the in carrying out the planned
actions? What needs to be changed, why and how?
During the evaluation in Kyrgyzstan, we found out that the latter 2 groups of questions were easier to treat and get answers, while the first two seemed to be more general and abstract thus did not promote a good discussion.
Table 3. Content of the policy evaluation in Kyrgyzstan
All the participants of the process admitted that a huge progress had been made since the beginning of the process of the new forest policy inl998:
* Basic forest policy documents have been elaborated and approved: a new Forest Code, and the Les Programme, as an Action Plan for 2001-2005.
• State Forest Service has become an independent structure under the President of the Republic.
• The budget has been significantly increased.
•A general reform of the forestry sector has been started, with more responsibilities given to the field level, including local population and private entrepreneurs.
•Generally speaking, an increasing number of technical activities has been carried out (for inventory, education and management), and the general interest for forestry topics has increased at political level and in the public as well.
* Awareness within the forestry sector has increased, privates started to become active in the process of forest products.
Limitations and constraints
A complete list of limitations and constraints has been enumerated, including:
- a critic of the presently incomprehensive Forest Code and regulations;
- unrealistic objectives set up by the Action Plan for 5 years (Les Programme);
- bad networking between foresters and local population, private and state actors, repre-
senting different views; Poor collaboration with other ministries and agencies;
- there is no system for regular participatory follow up and monitoring of the activities
during technical impleemntation;
- unclear concept for involving privates in forest management; misunderstanding of
Community Based Forest Management and leasing issues;
- poor material equipment of the forest service on the whole;
- low personnel qualification and bad material equipment;
- structures and management not fitting to government requirements;
- re-orientation of actions
• Precise concepts for Community based Forest Management and leasing (assess implementation and finalise their concepts).
• Transfer of all productive functions to the privates.
• Clarify roles and responsibilities at the various levels of the forest service.
• Personnel policy
- procedural improvements
• Amend the forest legislation and promulgate the regulations.
• Establish the next action plan 2006-2010 (Les-Programme) basing on a normative National
Forest Programme for 10-15 years.
• Design a comprehensive system for institutional reform
• A programme for training of the staff
3.2 The publicisation of the process
For a better communication, together with the workshops and discussions, a strong mediatisation of the process was also needed, in order to deliver to the public a public official report on how was the policy implemented at the level of the Republic. For this purpose, several main events were organised:
- Both, at the initial and the final steps of the process, press-conferences were organized first, for reminding what is the national forest policy, and, second, for presenting the process of evaluation as a public report.
- At the final step, a big National conference was held for the State Forest Service to present to the highest authority of the State, the activities which have been already implemented, and the improvements to be introduced in the next years.
- The process of evaluation was broadly covered by mass media. (invited by the State Forest Service and Kyrgyz Swiss Forestry Support Programme)
Table 4. Questions and answers linked to the evaluation. Experience of Kyrgyzstan
- Who should be involved in the evaluation, the forestry technicians or the locals, "people from the market"? The level and quality of participation will be different.
Both sides should be involved, as all the aspects can not covered by one side only. Involvement of other parties will make the information more comprehensive and it will be easier to agree upon it afterwards. BUT there is always a moment when the participation, involvement of the other parties can/should be limited. The basis are the experience, expertise, but the decisions are taken in the course of broad open discussions.
- If during the discussions the questions are asked, which are already covered by the legal documents and regulations?
It is good, as it is the sign of the fact that the regulations and the legal documents include important questions. It is more difficult if the questions asked, are not included into the legal provisions yet. It will mean that the forest service did not consider aspects, which could be of high importance. On the other hand it is also a sign of a poor link of SFS with other actors. It means that during the next steps the aspects should be broadly discussed with the parties concerned.
- What is the expected result of the process? What should be the structure of the evaluation report?
Finally there will be 2 types of report:
(i) general information for the politicians (4-5 pages)
(ii) the main part - a direction for activities, about 20 pages and the main part is to be devoted to the comparison of the real implementation, compared to the plan. The decision on the main aspects is to be taken by the core group.
And addenda i.e. matrix for the technicians, specialists, the number of pages is not limited.
The final beneficiaries of the report are not only specialists of the forest service, but also other interested people, thus the form of the report shou ld be clear and short and simple.
- In the global sense, in the forestry sector there may be several objectives, which could be contradicting to each other, or even be in conflict.
This can happen at the very general level. It is easier to treat concreat activities. In one activity there may be also several objectives presupposed. In the case when the aims are contradicting, it is better to be concentrated on one, priority objective. Otherwise it is difficult to make the evaluation. Eg. Private nurseries at the leshoz level - there may be a technical reason: it is a too much expensive activity for a leshoz. There may be also a social reason as to attract the local population to the forestry activities. Often there is a need to make a choice between social and technical priorities, as they are seldom common. In this case, during the evaluation, the efficiency of activities is to be considered in relation to the initial plan of the leshoz, including the proper definition of the priority.
Comments on the side: (from the notes of the working group)
* cards on board - some of the cards written during the workshops were related
to the activities, while others were speaking about the results. It
was important for the Working Group to make a clear distinction between
the activities and results.
* discussion - need to be careful
not to go away from the discussion of the ideas expressed on the cards,
to the discussion of the general problems and situations.
* indicators - as the participants usually have different backgrounds
and may have different ways of understanding and expressing different
notions, it is useful to agree from the beginning about the use of some
basic key words. For instance, the meaning of the indicators for
efficiency and effectiveness of implementation: eg. for
the evaluation of the involvement of the local population in the forestry
activities, the following aspects are to be considered: How many people
were attracted in relation to definite types of activities? What are
the reasons for the passiveness of the others? % correlation between
the number of involved and the number of passive. What is the difference
in number of the people involved vs. the initially planned number?
It is important to make a difference between the implemented
activities and what has promoted their implementation.
Direct conflicts between the participants should be avoided in any case.
4.2 Weakness of participation during evaluation
- Participants had really a different understanding of many of the discussed questions: like speaking about efficiency of implementation, foresters mention only costs, without considering benefits;
- Participants of different levels (technicians and administration) speak different languages, as they (i) have a different use of terminology daily i.e. more formal and beaurocratic for the representatives of administration and less formal for the filed people; (ii) they have different concerns, needs and priorities.
- During the discussion of problems, people take un-success or failure in implementation and critic personally, as their own failure, and tend to be defensive, (sometimes even close to aggressive).
- Perception of information is a crucial factor, people, not used for discussions, often just listen, without hearing, or speak for the sake of speaking.
- the role of a moderator can be critical, in case of disagreement of personal interest, he can easily impose own ideas, or manipulate people, leading them, according to a hidden agenda.
Level of decisions
The politicians, forestry administration, managers, once they understood the possible strength of participation, it started to used as a tool for power re-distribution.
Achievements of forest policy started to be used as tools for various games of politics (and politicians).
Real networking with other ministries and agencies has not become a reality.
it was important to have a chance for expressing opinion and being listened to;
There is a strong dependence on personalities, both for the moderators and for the participants. For moderators it is evident, a moderator can easily become a manipulator (and this is a big risk!). At the same time, involvement of individual responsibles from the state structures, or any other types of managers, should be controlled to a definite extend. They should not be the first to speak, not to influence the opinion of the others, and they should not be allowed to dominate in the discussions, and this is the task of a moderator, (thus a moderator should be an independent person, to be able to calm down the officials)
The scarcity of the forest resources and permanently growing demand in them (as the economy of the country is still in a “deep sleeping” form) makes any kind of negotiation between the resource conservation and needs of the people very much artificial.
5.2. What sort of participation was it in Kyrgyzstan?
5.3 What would be the essential points, as advice for the future?
As the policy development in Kyrgyzstan with broad participation is still a process, it is too early to make final conclusions, but as intermediate findings, the following can be state.
Pluralism is not a guarantee for equity, but even may be an alibi, when forest policy process becomes a tool for politicians in political games.
Cultural background has an impact on participation, same as institutional arrangement. (Eg. The combination of socialist habits and tribal traditions together with a peculiar understanding of democracy definitely defined the character of participation in policy evaluation in Kyrgyzstan)
Active participation gave more power to the State Forestry Administration, leading to the power re-distribution inside forest service, with direct link between the deciders and the field level, which on the one hand gave more power to the field staff, who was technically not ready to use this power thus becoming more dependent on the administration. It also lead to the exclusion of the “intermediate powers” i.e. forestry administrations at the regional level;
“Once started, the show will go on”. Participation, or, involvement in the decision making process, especially in the evaluation of implementation (everybody likes to evaluate somebody else!) will not be easy to stop, as the taste of power is so sweet. It also gives a nice image of democracy, thus also being favored (to some extend) by higher ups. But, as a mass process it is so easy to get out of control.
Buttoud, G., 1999: Principles of participatory processes in public decision making. in: Regional forest programmes: a participatory approach to support forest based regional development. EFI Proceedings 32, pp., 1-28.
Yunusova, I., Buttoud, G., and Grisa, E.,: 2003, Reforming forest policy in Kyrgyzstan: impediments and success of the process in extreme ecological and unstable socio-economic environment, The Austrian Journal of Forest Science, # 120, heft1, pp., 73-82
Yunusova, I, 1999 - The Kyrgyz forestry concept: a participatory process for forest policy formulation in Kyrgyzstan. In: Regional Forestry Programmes: a Participatory Approach to Support Forest Based Regional Development. EFI Proceedings 32, pp., 93-101.