PROSPER Quarterly Report: July – September 2013

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.

This fifth quarterly report presents the activities undertaken and results obtained during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013 (FY13) which covers July 1 through September 30, 2013. Individual monthly progress reports were also prepared for USAID.

The July to September period marked the conclusion of PROSPER’s first full year of implementation. Despite the advent of the rainy season which made movements of PROSPER staff and community partners difficult, and the absence of all three component leaders for 2-3 weeks for annual vacations, the program was able to move ahead with the execution of a wide variety of planned field activities across all three components. This included fifty-two workshops and stakeholder meetings involving more than 2,500 participants

Summary and Highlights:

The education and outreach team (Component 1) wrapped up the first annual outreach campaign, launched in Quarter 3, with a local rollout in Grand Bassa in July. A three-day workshop co-organized by PROSPER and PCI Media Impact in early July allowed program stakeholders to define the key elements of 52-episode radio drama serial for Liberia. The Component 1 team devoted a good part of its energies in August to preparing the faculty of the Forestry Training Institute to deliver its new community forestry curriculum, developed in FY13 with PROSPER’s assistance.

The livelihoods and enterprise development team (Component 3) pursued implementation of long-running farmer field school and ag-processing support activities throughout the quarter, while carrying out an internal review and gathering technical information and identifying partners needed to support a shift in emphasis to tree crop-based enterprise development in Year 2.

Under Component 2, the central pillar of the PROSPER program, the community forestry team provided support to the three mature CF sites of northern Nimba and the seven new sites identified under PROSPER. In the mature sites, PROSPER focused its efforts in Quarter 4 on renewing the forest governance institutions and strengthening their internal monitoring structure (forest guards), while facilitating the Gba community’s resolution of the complex and longstanding issue concerning settlements in the CF. In the new proposed CF sites, all of which submitted applications to the FDA for authorized forest community status in Quarter 3, PROSPER pursued activities intended to provide a strong foundation for future CF management. These included the extension of basic awareness-raising activities on community forestry (purpose, potential benefits, obligations and processes), and specific sessions on the role and responsibilities of community forest governance structures and qualifications of leaders. Component 2 activities also included conflict management and leadership training aimed at providing target communities with the skills needed to mitigate land disputes that may arise with the demarcation of their forest. In order to sustain momentum in the program’s new sites until the current Government moratorium on new community forest authorizations is lifted, in the fourth quarter PROSPER assisted these communities to establish interim CF “organizing committees”.

PROSPER’s ongoing efforts to empower communities to sustainably manage their natural resources gives the program a unique, close-up view of the multiple and complex challenges – both internal and external – that rural Liberian communities face in achieving that goal. In the fourth quarter, that experience continued to inform PROSPER’s work, providing information and insights that the team integrated into annual work planning sessions organized in August and September, and guiding national-level initiatives such as the establishment of a joint FDA-CFWG review process for new CF management applications.

During Q4, PROSPER continued to share that information and experience at the national level through its participation in different fora including regular meetings of the Land Commission and the Agriculture Coordination Committee. PROSPER also continued to facilitate the participation of forest community leaders in relevant fora such as the County Development Steering Committee and County Forestry Forum in Nimba and Northern Nimba Biodiversity Stakeholders Group where they have gained valuable experience and confidence in presenting their experiences and concerns on important and practical natural resource management and land issues. In August, through a subcontract to the Environmental Law Institute, PROSPER organized stakeholder consultations on the Community Rights Law and Regulation aimed at improving coherence and simplifying the legal framework for community forestry, land tenure and property rights.

With an intense schedule of field activities from July to September and considerable time devoted to preparing preparation of the FY14 work plan, the PROSPER team remained behind schedule in the submission of several deliverables (see table below). PROSPER senior staff met with the USAID COR in late September to review the status of deliverable submission. They concurred on the need for several modifications in the deliverable schedule that could be formalized in a future contract modification.

PROSPER’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit had a packed fourth quarter schedule that included the successful conclusion of the Data Quality Assessment of the PROSPER performance management system in July (see Cross Cutting Activities, below). Integrating the results of PROSPER’s extensive fourth quarter activities, the program was able to meet or exceed the targets that were established for 10 of the 15 Indicators monitored in FY13.

Deliverables Summary:

No new contract deliverables were due during the fourth quarter of FY13 (July – September 2013). One contract deliverable due in the first quarter of FY13 was re-submitted for USAID review and approval:

  • Biodiversity assessments completed for new sites (#24)

Eight deliverables remain outstanding as of September 30, 2013. A list of the deliverables and their status are provided in the table below.