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, 2015, marked the conclusion of the third full year of PROSPER program implementation. The entire year brought the program many unique challenges. During Q1, Liberia continued to feel the full effects of the Ebola crisis. Fortunately, PROSPER had anticipated the continued difficulties of interacting with local counterparts and had developed its AWP accordingly, but it was impossible to have predicted when work would continue unhampered. Consequently, many STTA visits were postponed until late in Q3, while others were put off until FY16 due to the rains during Q3 and Q4, causing slight delays with some of the Deliverables. As one of the few USAID contractors that remained on the ground during the entire Ebola crisis, PROSPER worked closely with the communities to provide several Ebola training sessions that were worked into our normal outreach activities.
During Q3 and Q4, the effects of Ebola were unremarkable as far as carrying out PROSPER activities in the field. In May 2015, Liberia was declared Ebola free. Several STTAs were able to travel to Liberia in order to assist with the completion of PROSPER deliverables. Considerable progress was made during the quarter through the collaborative work with FDA, PROSPER and the CFWG to begin the process for a community to gain Community Forest status with the implementation of tools developed to complete the nine-steps of the process to becoming a Community Forest. However, the entire year was marred with the several occurrences of the FDA requesting for PROSPER to stop work on the CF status process. This caused considerable delays that were unnecessary and would have been easily avoided with better communication within the FDA Community Forestry Department. Better lines of communication have opened up with more involvement from the Deputy Managing Director of Operations at the FDA and FY16 Q1 should see significant progress with the CF process.
Of the 18 Deliverables scheduled to be submitted during FY15, PROSPER submitted 10. The remaining 8 deliverables were delayed almost exclusively because of the Ebola crisis during the first two quarters of FY15. They are included in the FY16 Annual Work Plan. (See Annex 5)
This Annual Report is provided as a complement to the quarterly reports and includes the FY15Q4 data. It provides a succinct summary of PROSPER’s major achievements in FY15 by component and by activity. This report also presents several of the important lessons learned during the first three years of the PROSPER project, and the principal strategic adjustments made on the basis of past experience.
FY 2015 HIGHLIGHTS
Component 1: Education, Outreach, and Awareness
- Seventy-two environmental education lesson plans reviewed, revised and matched with their respective Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs), in collaboration with the MoE.
- School EE/nature/conservation clubs and teachers within PROSPER zones identified.
- Situational analysis on threat to biodiversity conducted in the three PROSPER sites.
- A matrix of change workshop conducted in support of the development of a communication strategy for the third annual outreach campaign.
- Result of the FY14 KABs endline survey that measured the impact of the second annual outreach campaign presented to FDA and the CFWG.
- KABs baseline on threats to Biodiversity developed and administered.
- Rollout of the third annual outreach campaign.
- Regional Foresters trained in the CRL and related CF themes.
- Provided regular support to FTI to monitor teacher development.
- Updated the Community Forestry Curriculum at FTI in fulfilment of Deliverable 8a.
- Supported the Implementation of the Community Forestry Curriculum and use of Digital Learning Platform at FTI.
- Gender Forums conducted at FTI.
Component 2: Forest Management and Biodiversity
- Supported the Communities to effectively monitor activities in their CFs.
- Provided coaching and regular support for CFMBs.
- Provided specific support to Community Assembly Management Activities.
- Conducted a capacity assessment for business development among local institutions, including the CFMBs.
- Supported the development and adoption of Gba Business and Financial Plan.
- Supported the boundary dispute resolution and signing between Doe (Gblor) and Kparblee Districts.
- Supported the participation of CF pilot communities in the Socio-economic and Reconnaissance survey conducted by FDA.
- Provided support to FDA to conduct demarcation in proposed CFs.
- Supported the CF Governance bodies to participate in County-level Forums.
- Presented six policy briefs developed in partnership with CSOs for Deliverables 26b & 26c.
- Supported the FDA through the process of Harmonization of the CRL Regulations with the CRL.
- Produced outreach materials on biodiversity, priority threats and sustainable forest management in collaboration with FFI and Component 1.
Component 3: Livelihood and Enterprise Development
- The Gba CFMB became the first CFMB to receive business training in order to improve its own financial administration and to create transparency and accountability regarding the cost of operations and funds that are kept by the CFMB.
- PROSPER provided operations and maintenance training for seven Cassava Processing Groups (CPGs) in northern Nimba.
- Fourteen Oil Palm Processing Groups were established around the Big Gio Forest. Each group contributed a 30% ($300 USD) co-payment before receiving the machine.
- Four oil palm nurseries were established in towns north of the Big Gio forest. Farmers each paid $60 for 60 seeds and have committed themselves to provide the necessary labor for running the nursery.
- Four cocoa rehabilitation demo plots were established in collaboration with WIENCO Liberia Ltd. in four existing cocoa farms, not rehabilitated.
- Eight groups were selected from an inventory of women’s groups that had been carried out by the PROSPER Gender Officer in 2012 to increase the number of crop diversification groups from 16 to 24. Currently these groups have 600 members trained.
- PROSPER, in conjunction with the USDA funded LIFE III project (cocoa) and USAID SHOPS II, has embarked on building a sustainable platform that can support and implement price dissemination service via text messaging for farmers and traders.
- A pilot beekeeping activity was launched in 5 towns close to the PROSPER supported CFs. The five groups have 10 hives each in the forest area. A total of 104 persons have been trained.