Forest producer organizations can play vital role in design and delivery of social protection
©FAO/Pilar Valbuena 20 July 2018, Rome – Forest producer organizations could play a key role in the delivery and development of social protection programmes according to two new FAO Forestry Working Papers released at a World Forest Week side event at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Research from the papers, The role of forest producer organizations in social protection and A diagnostic on social protection needs and opportunities for forest-dependent communities in the United Republic of Tanzania, suggested that forest producer organizations could be a conduit for social protection policies and programmes as they are frequently in close contact with individual members and families.
A close connection with forest-dependent communities also means that these organizations could provide information on the socio-economic status of potential beneficiaries, as well as information and feedback to governments to ensure provision of social protection services to the people who are in greatest need. Many forest-dependent communities face heightened risks and vulnerabilities and are often in need of economic and social support.
Although most forest producer organizations focus on promoting the economic interests of their members, rather than explicitly protecting members against risks, some already help their members manage risks indirectly. Some forest producer organizations provide certain social protection benefits, such as health, pension or accident insurance and in many cases, pooled funds for other types of community support services, the research noted.
In the United Republic of Tanzania, the focus of one of the new reports, the combination of remote rural location, absence of quality services, limited alternative livelihood opportunities and a lack of targeted social protection programmes increases the vulnerability of forest dependent communities to shocks and stresses.
Forest-dependent communities in Tanzania have also been impacted by factors including lack of access to functioning markets and low agricultural productivity, which reduces their ability to cope with economic and natural risks. Authorities have made efforts to address poverty and vulnerability through a social protection plan but don’t always respond directly to the complex needs of these communities, according to the report.
The reports are part of a FAO Forestry Department series. Previous research in the series looked at social protection lessons from China, Burkina Faso and Uganda.