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:
- 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;
- Enhance community-based livelihoods derived from sustainable forest-based and agriculture-based enterprises in target areas.
This seventh quarterly report presents the activities undertaken and results obtained during the second quarter of fiscal year 2014 (FY14) which covers January 1 through March 31, 2014. Individual monthly progress reports were also prepared for USAID.
The January – March 2014 period was highlighted by major staffing transitions on the part of TTARD and USAID. In January, COP Steve Reid departed from the program after nearly two years developing and refining the administrative component of PROSPER. In preparation for his departure, DCOP Vaneska Litz was approved as the new COP of PROSPER. A new DCOP, Paul Meadows, arrived in country on January 6th to manage the administrative functions that Mr. Reid had performed. There was a brief turnover period with both Mr. Meadows and Mr. Reid on the ground together. At the end of January, COP Vaneska Litz announced her departure from the program in order to take a position in Zambia. Tetra Tech ARD and PROSPER sought to bridge Ms. Litz’s departure and mobilization of the new COP by sending Jesse Buff, PROSPER Senior Technical Advisor/Manager, to overlap with Ms. Litz’s final weeks with the program. At the end of March 2014, Mr. Buff helped orient the new COP, Mr. Paul Cowles, in Burlington, VT. Mr. Cowles arrived shortly thereafter in Liberia and will be overseeing the technical components of the program that Ms. Litz previously oversaw. This report summarizes the accomplishments for the period measured against the Annual Work Plan.
Summary and Highlights:
Component 1 activities focused heavily on the organization of the 2nd Annual Outreach Campaign Launch, which is to take place in early April. Work with FTI continued and the Community Forestry Curriculum and Participatory Teaching Techniques Guide received marking and branding approval from USAID, with the first publications being printed at the end of March. The Component 1 lead commenced activities in Western Liberia with a pilot program that will eventually extend to other non-PROSPER counties to assist communities that have already submitted applications to gain Authorized Community Forest status. With the Community Forest Management Agreement moratorium expected to be lifted in April, there is a strong need to educate communities that have already submitted applications on the overall process of nine steps to achieve CF status. The pilot proved successful in Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpoulu counties and the project is expected to reach out to other counties in May 2014.
Component 2 moved forward with planned field activities despite the many staffing transitions and the moratorium on CFMAs. Highlights in northern Nimba included: supporting the negotiations between Arcelor Mittal (AML) and the CFMB resulting in the recognition of the community ownership rights to forest resources; continuation of Community Assembly (CA) restructuring activities coupled with capacity building which included rules revision and system development; and, the multi-stakeholder CMC engagement regarding the ENNR and Land Commission support to land tenure issues which clarifies and supports community institutions’ rights over their forest resources. In the new sites, forest management organizing committees and Community Awareness Teams continue to promote community awareness on sustainable forestry in the PROSPER target communities.
Major Component 3 activities during the second quarter of FY14 included: completion and submission of the Agricultural Value Chain Assessment report; implementation of the Value Chain Assessment of Wood Based Products; completion of the sector assessment for, the identification of established entrepreneurs who are interested in leading the mobilization and trade of Griffonia as a business activity; starting the selection of cocoa farmers for the cocoa rehabilitation program in Zor and the Big Gio communities; and the finalization of an operation and maintenance brochure for Freedom Mill operators and managers.
Griffonia monitoring continued using plots established in Q4 of FY13 and was further extended for three weeks into April due to the reported late maturing of the Griffonia. The PROSPER-supported cassava processing groups (CPGs) in Northern Nimba had limited business due to immature (small) tuber size. Training of operators and stakeholders of the Commercial Palm Oil Processors at the start of the palm processing season resulted in a good start of the palm processing season.
During the quarter, ten new staff were hired by ACDI/VOCA to provide support to Component 3 activities.
Ten deliverables were submitted and either approved or returned to PROSPER for revisions during the reporting period. A list of the deliverables approved during the quarter, or submitted and awaiting approval, or submitted and returned to PROSPER before approval can be given, are provided in the table below (updated as of 31 March, 2014). This information is similarly presented in the Appendices.