PROSPER Annual Work Plan: Fiscal Year 2014

To build on previous 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:

  1. Expand educational and institutional capacity to improve environmental awareness, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental compliance;
  2. Improve community-based forest management leading to more sustainable practices and reduced threats to biodiversity in target areas;
  3. Enhance community-based livelihoods derived from sustainable forest-based and agriculture-based enterprises in target areas.

To implement PROSPER Tetra Tech ARD has assembled a consortium composed of Liberian and international partners with distinct skill sets and extensive experience in Liberia. Working with and through stakeholder partners (including educational institutions, government agencies, civil society organizations, private sector partners, community-based organizations, communities, and other donor programs), at all levels of implementation (i.e., national, landscape, and community), PROSPER is designed to improve human, legal, regulatory and institutional capacities in environmental awareness and wise stewardship of natural resources with the aim of extending community-based forest management as well as community-based forestry and agricultural enterprise development throughout Liberia.

At the national level PROSPER builds institutional capacity to support community forestry through close coordination and technical support to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and curriculum development assistance to the Forestry Training Institute (FTI). The program helps to inform and improve policies concerning natural resource management, land tenure and property rights and the environment, by creating opportunities for communities and practitioners to share their experiences with national-level decision-making actors. To increase environmental awareness, PROSPER builds the capacity of government and civil society organizations to design and conduct effective public outreach campaigns, and is assisting the Ministry of Education to strengthen primary formal curriculum through the integration of appropriate environmental themes and the development of instructional materials. This year, particular efforts will be made to support the development of the CFWG as a rights forum by providing planning and training activities related to outreach campaigns, and designing monitoring systems and standard operating procedures to implement the CRL. Curriculum developed in Year 1 for primary schools will be finalized, printed and provided to the Ministry of Education for use in Liberia’s primary schools and FTI’s community forestry curriculum will be rolled out with continued support from the PROSPER program.

At the landscape and community levels, PROSPER works with communities, local government and other stakeholders in northern Nimba County at three sites (Zor, Gba, and Bleih community forests) that were established under LRCFP. During Year 1, PROSPER extended its work in northern Nimba to a fourth site (Sehyi). PROSPER is currently facilitating a process that would allow the proposed Sehyi community forestlands to be integrated into the existing Gba community forest management agreement (CFMA), and the governance bodies restructured to ensure equitable representation of both communities. During Year 1, PROSPER added an additional landscape in southern Nimba County (Tappita District, Big Gio Forest) comprising four sites and two landscapes in Grand Bassa representing an additional two sites. In Year 2, PROSPER will support the two Grand Bassa sites and two of the four local communities in the Tappita District (Gblor-Gbeah and Kparblee) to develop forest governance institutions, adopt more sustainable management practices, and diversify livelihood options through the creation of forest-based enterprises. In the other two proposed Tappita District CF sites (Boe-Quilla and Sehzuplay), the discovery of extensive, unauthorized settlements in the Big Gio Forest areas initially targeted for management as community forests, presents obstacles to successful CF establishment. The situation in the Sehzuplay clan area is further complicated by the disclosure of a deed that may convey agricultural development rights to the community.

During Year 2, PROSPER will work with the FDA and the concerned communities to raise awareness concerning forest and land use management and offer support for livelihood diversification in an effort to slow forest degradation and to establish a buffer zone for the more intact forests on the eastern side of Big Gio Forest. The deed will be verified to determine the scope of community rights, and PROSPER will facilitate discussions between the FDA and the communities on the western side of the BGF to determine whether the community should proceed toward authorized community forestry status, or merely classify their forest area as a community forest. Both approaches will require land use planning efforts, but the processes will be somewhat different and will require on-going support from PROSPER and FDA. In Year 2, PROSPER will pursue efforts to promote the development of sustainable agriculture- and forest-based livelihoods and enterprises that represent viable alternatives to activities that currently drive deforestation in PROSPER’s work zones. Building on lessons from Year 1, PROSPER will expand its strategically-targeted technical assistance to Griffonia entrepreneurs and cassava processing groups to improve the viability of their operations. PROSPER will refocus Component 3 resources on the promotion of cocoa farm rehabilitation and oil palm processing – activities that present better economic opportunities in the current market for residents of forest communities. Initial interventions will aim at revitalizing non-productive tree crop small holdings, providing their owners with alternatives to shifting cultivation.

PROSPER’s Results Framework (Annex 1) is based on the causal and logical linkages between proposed activities (inputs), performance indicators (outputs, outcomes, and impacts), program objectives, sub-intermediate results, PROSPER’s goal, and higher-level USAID/Liberia Intermediate Result 2.2, “Natural Resources Managed Sustainably” and Development Objective 2, “Sustained, Market-Driven, Economic Growth to Reduce Poverty.” In line with USAID/Liberia programming, PROSPER will contribute to multiple technical areas. The outcomes and results achieved under Objective 1 will contribute to USAID’s Education Development Objective. Objective 3 will contribute to Intermediate Result 2.1.2, “Agricultural Sector Growth Supported,” under USAID/Liberia’s Economic Growth Development Objective. Lastly, Objective 2 will contribute to USAID/Liberia’s Democracy and Governance Development Objective.

Annual Work Plan – FY 2014

The present Annual Work Plan document provides a succinct narrative description and timelines for the set of interrelated activities identified by the PROSPER team as necessary to achieve the contractual results, outcomes, and deliverables of the program during Fiscal Year 2014 (October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014). This period corresponds to the second full fiscal year of the program (launched in May 2012), which we will refer to it as Year 2.

The PROSPER Annual Work Plan is a contract deliverable which provides USAID with information on proposed activities and accomplishments and a tool for monitoring expected progress towards achieving program results. The Plan serves the PROSPER implementation team as a comprehensive guide and calendar that facilitates the efficient allocation and management of program assets and resources. It is a living document, however, that will be revised as needed during the year, in consultation with USAID, to allow the program to take advantage of new insights and opportunities, as well as to find solutions to obstacles that may arise.

While many of the Year 2 activities presented in this document build directly on processes launched and results achieved during the first year of implementation, the FY14 work plan also includes a number of strategic reorientations. These changes – some driven by evolutions in the larger socio-political and economic context of Liberia’s forestry sector, and others by ongoing analysis and reflections by USAID and the PROSPER team on ‘what is working and what is not’ – are described in the “Strategic Adaptations” section of each of the three components.

The present document is the fruit of a collective effort by PROSPER staff, implementing partners, USAID representatives, and key Government of Liberia counterparts to identify, prioritize, define, and schedule the main activities required in FY 2014 across all three PROSPER program components. The preparation of this year’s work plan involved three major steps: 1) a retreat for PROSPER staff (August 19-21) to review execution of the FY13 work plan, analyze lessons learned, and identify priorities for FY14; 2) a formal work planning workshop organized in Monrovia from September 4-6 involving PROSPER staff, implementing partners, Government of Liberia counterparts, and community representatives, resulting in the production of a detailed first-draft work plan; 3) a series of consultative meetings (week of September 16-20) between USAID and senior PROSPER technical team to review and discuss the draft work plan and clarify questions concerning proposed activities and implementation strategies.

Three documents – PROSPER’s Statement of Work, Deliverables Schedule, and Performance Monitoring Plan – served as the principal references for the work planning effort. PROSPER’s Component heads prepared the technical sections of the work plan under the direction of the Deputy Chief of Party. The work plan takes into account a number of guiding principles and practical considerations emphasized by participants during the PROSPER technical retreat and work planning workshop including: working with and through Liberian institutions to build capacity and sustainability; systematic documentation of processes modeled, training conducted, and lessons learned; more realistic scheduling to take into account the time required to build community awareness, consensus, and commitment on complex and sensitive matters; managing expectations of partner communities with regard to livelihood component activities in particular. As noted in the sections that follow, Year 2 will also be marked by efforts to intensify activity monitoring, with particular emphasis on institutional capacity building, environmental impacts, and effectiveness of outreach and awareness-raising.