During the past 15 years, a large number of community forestry projects have been started in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Among these projects, many interesting cases can easily be identified in the field. Since the study was carried out under the FTPP, which is a global programme, community forestry projects were identified and selected in all three major developing regions. Priority was given to projects that had already been under implementation for some years. The selected projects were known to apply a participatory approach and were relatively well documented. At the time the study was being prepared, the innovative Interregional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation and Development (PUCD) had recently been started with field projects in each of the regions. It was decided to include some of these projects as well, both because of their interesting approach and because the findings of the study would be relevant for the further development of the programme.
The case studies were conducted by national consultants in the course of 1994, after which they were commented upon by the staff of each project and then summarized for inclusion in this study. In this section, a brief description of each of the nine projects is given, followed by a summary review of the information contained in the case study reports.
The community forestry projects include one from Africa, two from Latin America and two from Asia:
1. the PREVINOBA project in Tivaouane, Senegal
2. the Potosi Community Forestry Project in Bolivia
3. the Los Maribios project in Nicaragua
4. the Malakand/Dir Social Forestry Project in Pakistan
5. the Begnas Tal Rupa Tal Project in Nepal
The overall objective of the Village Reforestation Project in the Northwest of the Groundnut Belt (Projet de reboisement villageois dans le nord-ouest du bassin arachidier PREVINOBA) in Senegal is to contribute to the battle against desertification through the improvement of the natural environment and the living conditions of the rural population. Specific objectives are to consolidate local capacity for integrated village land use and natural resource management, comprising the integration of forestry activities within agriculture and livestock systems, and to support the institutional strengthening of the forestry service. These activities should lead to the restoration of forest cover and enrichment of the soils to achieve sustainable self-sufficiency in forestry products for the local population, as well as raising incomes of farmers through silvicultural activities.
The approach of the project is to create the conditions for a permanent dialogue between the "primary actors" (local community members) and the "support actors" (external development workers), in order to enable and encourage local communities to take their development into their own hands (self-help). Based on an annual planning process, villagers progressively take charge of development activities through a re-examination of their own knowledge and skills and the application of new technologies. The approach aims to strengthen their capacity for appraisal, problem identification and analysis, organization, training, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. The steps followed are:
1. sensitization of different institutional authority levels about the project and its methodology;
2. selection of target villages and organization of awareness workshops in these villages;
3. prioritization and selection by the villagers of forestry activities to undertake;
4. farmers' training through exchange of experiences between the farmers and the project;
5. systematic monitoring by village forestry committees; and
6. evaluation: technical (by the forestry committee), qualitative (by the whole village) and global (by all the actors involved).
The results of the evaluation exercises are fed back into the planning process for the following year, returning to step 3 in an iterative process of plan improvement.
The experience of the PREVINOBA project shows that the participatory approach produces a progressive accountability of the villages, leading to anactive participation of the villagers in forestry activities. Investments are made by the. villages with their own resources, for example to finance the fencing of village woodlots and to purchase new materials. Village organizations have adopted measures such as sanction systems for the protection of the environment. New working and exchange relations are developed within the community and between it and the outside world.
The objective of the Potosi project in the Andean highlands of southwest Bolivia is the improvement of living standards of the peasants through the integration of sustainable forestry activities within existing production systems. In order to achieve this objective, the project endeavours to (1) integrate tree planting and management into agricultural and livestock land use systems in order to improve productive outputs and to protect soils and water; (2) improve and adapt extension and training methodologies, verifying results in the field in order to develop an appropriate methodology for the Bolivian highlands; and (3) develop institutional capacity of governmental and . non-governmental organizations for the promotion of community forestry.
The method used by the project is to promote a technical menu at the village level, which consists of agroforestry systems integrating tree production, planting and management and the commercialization of forestry products into existing production systems. Extension activities are oriented towards establishing a dialogue with the local communities on the basis of this technical menu. As soon as the communities have decided to start forestry activities, the extension worker starts supporting them in the preparation of their Community Forestry Plans. A clear distinction is made between the technical menu as an institutional proposal and the Community Forestry Plan as an elaboration by the community itself of the institutional proposal on the basis of local needs and priorities. In this approach, best described as participatory extension for community forestry, the extension worker assumes the role of promoter, facilitator and trainer, supporting and orienting the local communities in the planning, implementation and evaluation of their forestry development.
As a result of the project, local forestry planning capacity has been strengthened significantly: through practical experience the local communities are now in a better position to formulate their plans on the basis of local constraints and opportunities. Similarly, the project has strengthened its own capacity to respond more effectively to the community forestry plans: it has been able to adjust its own annual planning procedures based, within the framework of the project document, on the profiles of the community forestry plans. The project has also signed a number of agreements of collaboration with government agencies and NGOs that are promoting rural development programmes in the project area, with the aim of institutionalizing the methodological approach and technical menu of the project.
The full name of this project in northwest Nicaragua indicates its general objective: "Conservation and management of natural resources with community participation on the western slopes of the Maribios hill range". The specific objectives are: (1) to develop a replicable system of agroforestry extension based on farmers' participation and institutional participation; and (2) to promote the active participation of around 3 000 farmers (at least 25% women) who should develop an adequate capacity in planning, management and rational use of the natural resources in an area of 72 000 ha.
In the project approach, the extension worker uses RRA as a tool to make a first assessment of the "strong and weak" points of rural communities, leading to the selection of communities for project intervention. Next, more specific information is collected about the community to get to know the people and their problems. Information collected at individual level is clustered by group (landless, small, medium and big farmers, cooperatives) in order to identify both common and group-specific problem areas. This results in a selective list of the most important problems of the community, among which those that fall within the scope of the project are identified. On the basis of these group meetings, an initial appraisal is made of possible project support.
Before concrete plans are worked out with individual peasants, a description and analysis is made of the opportunities and constraints of their farms or off-farm activities, based on direct observation (transect walking) and interviews.
Then, for those with land, a farm management plan is worked out and put into an agreement between the farmer and the project. For the landless, groups are formed to manage the rational use of the resources (such as fuelwood) from which they earn their living. These steps constitute the process of participatory extension. As developed by the project, participatory extension is a continuous, progressive and iterative learning process for the extension worker and the peasant. The RRA is considered as a starting point of this process and is aimed at incorporating the farmers' perspective.. The extension activities to orient and support this process are the execution of a participatory appraisal and the promotion of alternatives. The different phases of participatory extension are defined from both the institutional and the farmers' perspectives.
The response of farmers has been very positive and the project has contributed to the phenomenon of farmer group formation for improved land use management. Women, often on their own initiative, have started to prepare management plans for their vegetable gardens, introducing the production of fruit and forestry trees and applying soil protection measures. Landless peasants, such as the local fuelwood collectors, were very difficult to approach when the project started as they had always been involved in illegal tree cutting and fuelwood collection. Their positive response indicates that the project's technical menu responds to local opportunities and constraints. The project eases the basic problems of access to land, to appropriate technologies for land use management and to financial resources. The methodological approach helps the farmers to take control, strengthens the claiming and negotiating capacity of individual farmers or groups and provides them with the means to negotiate, and facilitates access to land, technology and credit.
The next step is the formation of Village Development Committees (VDCs), comprising representatives from the different owner-lineages and, whenever village circumstances permit, involvement of representatives of non-owners as well. Conflicts of interest and power at village level are one of the major constraints faced by the project, because the social structure of the villages is highly stratified, making it difficult to bypass the elite and reach other groups (other lineage groups, non-owners such as tenants and settled nomads, and women). Explicit attention is being paid to gender issues, both by promoting women's activities and by trying to make the VLUP approach more gender specific. However, the traditional purdah system of gender segregation causes serious difficulties in this area.
Within the VDC, management committees are formed to develop the management plans. Once the plans have been approved, implementation starts and the parties involved assume their responsibilities. Once the plan is prepared, an agreement is signed between the VDC management committee and the project, in which the rights and obligations of each are specified. The plans are not considered a blueprint, but rather as indicative and flexible instruments to stimulate conscious decision-making about the management of an area. Over time, it has gradually become clear at the institutional level that the social forestry approach is a participatory planning process: the final outcome of the negotiations with the villagers can never be planned beforehand. In other words, the process can be planned but not the outcome.
The specific objectives are: (1) adoption by farmers of soil conservation techniques and agroforestry practices; (2) rehabilitation of all identified critical soil erosion sites; (3) improvement of forest in the project area through protection, planting and management; (4) formation of user groups to identify, plan and manage their catchments; (5) involvement of women, occupational castes and minority groups of the community in the sustainable management of the human and natural resources, in order for all sections of the community to participate in and benefit from the project. Project strategy is aimed at training and assisting Community User Groups or Community Development Conservation Committees (CDCCs) to adopt sound land use management practices in order to address all the problems resulting in decreasing productivity and environmental decline.
Planning for the identification and implementation of development activities in the BTRT project area begins with the initiation of villagers themselves or the motivation of the villagers by BTRT project personnel. The final stage of this process of "programme development", as it is called in this project, is the implementation of local project activities and the sharing of the benefits among the participants. In between these two stages there are three other stages of programme development in which villagers and BTRT project personnel are involved: formation of the CDCC or user group; problem identification, needs assessment and prioritization; and programme formulation and negotiation.
BTRT staff members at the field stations have been successful in promoting a participatory approach and the formation of CDCCs in the communities. The CDCC has proved to be an adequate organizational structure for the elaboration of a global framework of watershed management planning in which a number of villages participate. At the same time, further detailed planning for implementation of specific activities is being delegated to the different committees. The CDCCs provide the opportunity to use local knowledge in the elaboration of the community_ forestry management plans. Villagers' knowledge of forestry resources and management skills in protecting and using the forest for the sustainable harvesting of forest products are demonstrated while preparing the plan for their village or ward.
The local socio-cultural context can limit the ability of participatory planning to contribute to the empowerment of disadvantaged groups. Although most of the CDCCs are made up of villagers belonging to different ethnic groups, socio-economic levels and educational levels, these committees tend to be dominated by the local elite. For example, literate villagers tend to take precedence over illiterate members and influence decision-making. It is not uncommon, therefore, that for disadvantaged groups, "participatory" planning is limited to participation in needs identification and assessment, and then to subsequent participation in implementation through labour contribution. On the other hand, the consolidation of different user groups into CDCCs for their better management has reduced overlapping of these groups in the community. Participatory planning of development activities is done through a series of general meetings of members of CDCCs or of the executive committee or of subcommittees for specific activities.
The four case studies examined here are part of the Interregional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation and Development (PUCD). This project, started in 1991, has the aim of promoting the adaptation and application of participatory methods for the promotion of an integrated approach to watershed management. The PUCD has national field projects in Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Burundi and Bolivia. Four out of five of these field projects were included in this study. They are located in Ghorka (Nepal), Quetta (Pakistan), Butare (Rwanda) and Makamba (Burundi).
The development objective of the PUCD interregional project is the transfer of responsibility for the management of upland catchments to local communities in accordance with the social, economic and production system requirements of these rural communities. The specific objectives are: to install five integrated upland conservation development projects in the selected countries incorporating the participatory approach; to coordinate the watershed management systems among these five countries, ensuring mutual strengthening of methodology and tool design, planning, implementation and evaluation; and to contribute to information dissemination on the subject of participatory watershed management.
The project approach is process-oriented and focused on local capacity building. Each project workplan is the outcome of a participatory planning process. Networking and interinstitutional linkages are used to broaden the scope of the technical support services that can be made available to local communities, including public works services from the government.
In each of the field projects, the first three to four months were reserved as a period for assessment, restitution and planning with the local population. To facilitate this participatory approach, tools of PRA and RRA were used by the local population and the project team together to prepare a workplan for immediate implementation. Implementation of activities started in most cases by the end of 1992.
The projects had been designed with an initial pilot phase of two* years in order to develop and verify the methodological approach. Therefore, during these first two years, special emphasis was given to the exchange between the field projects of experiences and lessons learned. At the end of the pilot phase, a technical review meeting of the project teams was convened. The results of this meeting are discussed in Chapter 3. A brief account of the different experiences of the four projects is given below.
One of the major constraints faced by the project from the beginning has been the insufficient number of field staff and inadequate levels of training. Although initial training for project staff took place, experience has shown that this was insufficient to promote the necessary conceptual orientation and participatory approach, or to impart adequate practical training in the use of PRA tools in the field. The project also had to demonstrate its credibility as a serious partner, which meant that participants needed to see that activities took place and results were obtained. However, participatory planning needs careful assessment of proposed, activities with the different interest groups before activities can be initiated, and this takes time. To avoid loss of interest, the process was speeded up. Activities were selected without a community environmental assessment and without a problem census. The opportunities for improved resource management in the area included a strong local awareness of problems of environmental degradation, the willingness and ability to organize into viable user groups, and a strong tradition of democratic discussion and group decision through consensus.
In practice, the participation of the villagers (mostly the men) has been limited to the stages of appraisal and implementation, and to a lesser extent to the elaboration of the specific plans. The participatory approach should have encouraged local people to come together to determine development activities and their feasibility, and to define the responsibilities of the different individuals or groups. Broad-based village participation in the planning exercise is fundamental for the local people to get a clear understanding of what their "participation" in "planning" actually means in terms of their power to make decisions.
In Pakistan the PUCD project, executed through the Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, is in the Kanak Valley southwest of Quetta. Water, because of its scarcity and the low rainfall levels, is the most important natural resource in the area. The most significant cash crop, fruits and vegetables, could not be produced without irrigation from tubewells, but these wells are lowering the water-table. After an analysis carried out by the villages, the project has been able to distinguish three areas for action: (1) increase the infiltration of rainwater by reducing runoff; (2) improve on-farm water harvesting techniques and water management; and (3) improve water-use regulations. A thorough cause-effect analysis was made of the issues mentioned by the villagers in order to arrive at a feasible plan of action for each of the villages.
It proved to be difficult to achieve an understanding of the participatory approach among the villagers. This region is near the Afghan border, where many projects are delivering relief to Afghan refugees. Villagers therefore tend to assume that outsiders are always the "givers", bringing "free" inputs to poor people. This is an attitude that needs constantly to be addressed by the project team. The villagers, and especially the women, generally consider themselves too poor to undertake action or not intelligent enough to assume responsibilities. When the appraisal exercises were conducted, the participants were usually in small groups, composed mainly of members of the local elite. In spite of the efforts of the project team to encourage the village heads to invite more people to attend the meetings, the results have not been satisfactory. An important factor in this context is the role and powerful position of the village chief. The language issue has been an important constraint, both within the project and between project and villages. At project level, in particular, it turned out to be difficult and sometimes impossible to translate some of the basic concepts into Urdu. All training sessions for the national field staff required translation into Urdu, weighing down the quality of these events.
The establishment of Village Associations constituted an important first step towards strengthening the local capacity to assume accountability for the planning, implementation and monitoring of specific activities. This institutional strengthening at local level is still in its initial stage and needs to be further supported by the project. The methods, techniques and tools used worked well in general. The PRA was meant to be an initial stage of the project, aimed at the preparation of the workplan. In practice it did much more than that. The PRA tools did generate relevant information for, involving both sides in the planning process, but the intensive interaction between the villages and the project also stimulated a process of mutual confidence building.. Because of frustrating past experiences with the Forestry Department and projects, this confidence building is a fundamental step for participatory approaches to be effective. The interpersonal communication skills of the field staff and their ability to listen and to learn thus emerged as priority areas for training and support.
In Rwanda, the PUCD interregional project is working in the municipality of Runyanya, Province of Butare, in the south of the country. From July 1992 onwards, the project together with the local population carried out an iterative process of participatory appraisal, planning and implementation of priority actions, and planning of more complex activities for the longer term. A detailed project workplan was elaborated and finalized on the basis of actions selected and planned by the population. During the appraisal phase, people were invited to express their needs and to propose actions. This resulted in a very long list of identified priorities related to agriculture, animal husbandry, water, infrastructure, crafts, extension and training, health and education. On the basis of this list three programmes were then formulated by the project: soil conservation and improvement, income generating activities and infrastructure improvement.
A total of about 150 groups, involving approximately 1 700 members, have initiated their respective projects in these three categories. The activities carried out so far have led to a number of results. Without any doubt, the capacity of the local population to direct its own development process has greatly increased. Although still incipient, there is an increased level of farmer organization. Production and conservation programmes have begun and physical works have been implemented. Also, methods and tools for planning and implementation have been tested and are being used locally.
One of the major constraints of this project has been the apparent lack of a long-term perspective within the local population: possibly because of the generalized poverty in the region, local people give priority to actions geared towards short-term results. The project has supported "spark actions" in order to respond to this short-term orientation, to strengthen its credibility as a serious partner and to create some space at the local level to develop a longer-term programme of activities for sustainable resource management.
Local communities appear to be gradually perceiving the project as their own. The most important instrument in this context has been the supportive role of the project in the area of training, and in the provision of equipment and materials for the implementation of mutually selected priority activities. Local communities are more and more capable of analysing their own problems and constraints, determining their priorities and mobilizing their own resources to implement their own projects. An open dialogue that manifests itself during appraisal, planning and evaluation meetings has been instituted between the local communities and the project staff. It has proven very useful for administrative authorities, farmer representatives and the project team to work together to review and analyse the participatory process and the results obtained.
In Burundi, the interregional project is working in the Rwaba watershed, Makamba Province, in the south of the country. At the time of execution of the case study, approximately 130 families, organized in 21 groups, were involved in the preparation or implementation of their own project activities, covering a wide range of fields, from erosion control to social communication. These "microprojects" have been prepared and designed by the groups themselves with additional support from the project. This support has been provided with the objective of strengthening local capacity in the areas of analysis, planning, management of the resources in their environment, mobilization of their own financial, human and material resources, economic and financial management and self-evaluation.
The existing top-down attitude at the institutional level has been one of the principal initial constraints for the implementation of the participatory approach of the project. This legacy was perceived particularly in the attitudes and behaviour patterns of the field staff assigned to the project. In spite of careful training, progress in improving their interpersonal communication skills in the field has been very slow. Likewise, among the villagers, much time had to be invested in explaining how a participatory project would operate and building up its credibility as a serious partner as opposed to the usual top-down projects. For example, in spite of the bad experiences with the cooperative movement that was promoted in the past in the region, the traditional model of solidarity and collective action known as "ikibiri" is being taken up again by many groups, thanks to the PUCD project.
There is no doubt that local knowledge and skills have been mobilized and integrated within the identification, planning and organization of the microprojects, in particular during the appraisal phase of needs, constraints and opportunities. However, it is difficult to indicate exactly which elements have been integrated within which activities and how this was done. Apparently this process has followed a more or less "natural" course of sharing information, knowledge and skills between the local people and project staff.