To build on previous United States Government investments in the forestry and agricultural sectors, particularly the Land Rights and Community Forestry Program (2007–2011) and the Liberia Forestry Support Program (2011–2012), USAID contracted Tetra Tech ARD in May 2012 to implement a new, five-year program (2012–2017) entitled People, Rules, and Organizations Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources (PROSPER). The overall goal of the program is to introduce, operationalize, and refine appropriate models for community management of forest resources for local self-governance and enterprise development in targeted areas of the country. The three primary objectives of the program are:
- Expand educational and institutional capacity to improve environmental awareness, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental compliance;
- Improve community-based forest management leading to more sustainable practices and reduced threats to biodiversity in target areas; and
- Enhance community-based livelihoods derived from sustainable forest-based and agriculture-based enterprises in target areas.
September 30, 2014, marked the conclusion of the second full year of PROSPER program implementation. The entire year brought the program many unique challenges that had not been anticipated in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Annual Work Plan. In late December 2013, two of PROSPER’s Liberian staff, the Tappita Field Office Administrator and the Monrovia Administrative Officer, unexpectedly left the program. This was followed by the departure of both Chief of Party (COP) Steve Reid and Deputy Chief of Party (DCOP) Vaneska Litz in January and February, respectively. In order to assist with the transition in management, Tetra Tech ARD’s Senior Technical Advisor/Manager, Jesse Buff, arrived in early January with the new DCOP, Paul Meadows. In April 2014, Paul Cowles arrived in country as the new COP for the program. Despite less-than-favorable management re-shuffling, the program was able to continue to deliver on the USAID contractual objectives and to fully implement all three contract components.
FY 2014 HIGHLIGHTS
Component 1: Education, Outreach, and Awareness
- Lessons learned from the first outreach campaign were documented and submitted to USAID in fulfillment of Deliverable 5.
- Efforts to develop and finalize the 72 environmental education lesson plans continued and were field-tested (Deliverable 3). The deliverable was submitted to USAID for approval after initial questions by the Contracting Officer’s Representative were addressed.
- In November 2013, Tetra Tech’s Communication Specialist facilitated two behavior change communication (BCC) capacity-building activities for 15 members of the Community Forestry Working Group (CFWG)/Forest Development Authority (FDA) on behalf of PROSPER:
- A BCC workshop for the design of the Second Annual Outreach Campaign on Community Forestry; and
- A film editing workshop.
- A three-day Community Forestry Curriculum and Teacher Training Review Workshop was held at the Forestry Technical Institute (FTI) in November 2013. The workshop provided faculty with a review of participatory teaching methodologies, and attendees were oriented in the use of the FTI website and database, developed with PROSPER support (Deliverable 8, submitted to USAID). The project printed and distributed the Participatory Teaching Techniques Guide at the end of March 2014.
- Activities commenced in Western Liberia with a pilot program that extended throughout a number of other non-PROSPER counties. The pilot assists communities that had already submitted applications to gain Authorized Community Forest status and help them understand the Community Rights Law and application process.
- The Second Annual Outreach Campaign was launched in Monrovia in April.
- Ken Bauer, a US-based consultant, provided guidance and support to help with the improvement and re-launch of the FTI Community Forestry teaching website with all new materials online.
- In April, the FDA Board of Directors approved the removal of the moratorium on community forest (CF) creation.
Component 2: Forest Management and Biodiversity
- In Northern Nimba, negotiations continued throughout the year between ArcelorMittal (AML) and the Gba Community Forestry Management Body (CFMB). An agreement signed in September 2014 gave the CFMB $150,000. The funds will allow the group to manage and profit from the harvesting of timber from the remaining area of land that AML intends to clear for the Tailings Management Facility.
- Community Assembly elections and CFMB appointments proceeded in Northern Nimba for the Gba and Zor CFs as part of a restructuring process of the governing bodies.
- Community Forest Organizing Committees and Community Awareness Teams were organized and mobilized in all of the PROSPER proposed CF sites.
- At the national level, PROSPER developed three policy briefs and presented these to stakeholders at a one-day workshop (Deliverable 29).
- With the lifting of the CF moratorium, the Component 2 team continued to collaborate closely with the FDA and CFWG regarding the process for obtaining Community Forest Management Agreements. In April, the FDA created a committee facilitated by the nongovernmental organization (NGO) coalition and tasked it with harmonizing the Community Rights Law (CRL) and the CRL Regulations. PROSPER is working closely with the Voluntary Partnership Agreement Support Unit in supporting the process.
- In Southern Nimba, the 30-year land dispute between the Gblor and Kparblee communities was finally resolved with PROSPER facilitation. Tetra Tech home office Geographic Information System Specialist, Nick Thomas, assisted the Component 2 lead with a four-day meeting between the two communities and used global positioning software coordinates to explain the demarcation process.
Component 3: Livelihood and Enterprise Development
- In November 2013, PROSPER concluded its contract with Action for Greater Harvest (AGHRA), a local subcontractor working on Component 3 activities. The strategy for the livelihood and enterprise development component was re-worked, and in January 2014, PROSPER subcontractor ACDI/VOCA hired eight community mobilizers and two Monrovia-based staff to implement Component 3 activities.
- In February, the program signed a subcontract with WIENCO Liberia, Ltd. to commence the Cocoa Rehabilitation Program in Zor and Big Gio communities in Nimba. However, the submission and approval of the Pesticide Evaluation Report and Safer Use Action Plan (PERSUAP) took longer than expected, making it impossible for WIENCO to provide cocoa growers with necessary fertilizers and pesticides in a timely manner. Additionally, the Ebola crisis delayed activities when WIENCO pulled its staff from Liberia. It is expected that the program will resolve the issues with the contract or will find another way to implement this important activity in FY15.
During the 2014 fiscal year, the PROSPER team adjusted to many challenges. In addition to the change of key personnel, several other factors presented difficulties in delivering upon the scheduled work of the 2014 Annual Work Plan (AWP). The CF moratorium remained in place through March 2014, which precluded the FDA from assisting PROSPER with the development of proposed CFs in PROSPER’s three sites. The FDA underwent significant changes in its senior management that directly impacted PROSPER activities. Technical Manager for Community Forestry Lawrence Green died and was replaced by Gertrude Nyaley. The FDA also brought on a new Deputy Managing Director for Operations, Darlington Tuagben. To compound difficulties, the first case of Ebola was discovered in Liberia in April. The ensuing state of emergency issued by the Government of Liberia, the departure of many NGOs and other businesses with whom PROSPER works, and fear among the general population made it much more difficult to conduct many of the activities scheduled for the later part of FY 2014, particularly in August and September. As a result, a number of deliverables scheduled in the 2014 AWP were delayed. However, a number of deliverables were completed and approved by USAID.