Building the capacity of local communities in developing and establishing forest enterprises
Poverty, hunger, and few opportunities for employment that leads to low level of income are some of the pressing challenges that the upland communities are facing for decades. Their capacity to adapt is being deliberately challenged by climate change factors and unpredictability of market situations in modern times.
This served as the tipping point of the Forestland Management Project (FMP) in aiming to improve the socio-economic conditions and quality of life of its partner people’s organizations (POs) and local communities through a more productive development and utilization of forest resources. The FMP, through its consultant, the Associated Resources and for Management and Development Inc. (ARMDev) conducted a feasibility study and series of capacity building activities on enterprise development to its partner POs in Regions 2, 3, 6 and CAR.
Enterprise development involves identification of business opportunities, resources, and building the capacity of people to establish and implement the identified business and livelihoods successfully. The context of enterprise development in the complexity of sustainable forest management is not just about improving local livelihoods and income, but also provision of quality foods for food security; health and nutrition; proper education; and conservation of the natural resource base, among others.
During the initial stage of the study on enterprise development, stocktaking and assessments were initiated by the ARMDev to come up with data on bio-physical, socio-demographic, and institutional and infrastructure facilities within the FMP subwatersheds. This was followed by identification of potential enterprises that served as guide in initiating enterprise and livelihood development of FMP’s partner POs.
After having a clear understanding of the financial and market situations as well as potential enterprises and livelihoods, the partner POs together with the Project Implementing Units (PIUs) representatives of the FMP participated in the conduct of series of trainings on “Business Planning and Proposal Preparation” and “Training-Workshop on Business Management and Entrepreneurship” during the third quarter of 2016.
Thereafter, on November 2-4, 2016, a “Workshop on Business Plan Assessment and Coaching on Enterprise Development” was conducted by the ARMDev and participated by PIUs representatives in order to facilitate and finalize the selection of pilot enterprises through quantitative and qualitative assessments. Based on the assessed and selected Business Plans, actual implementation of livelihood/enterprise activities covering one business cycle in the 24 subwatershed areas are bound to commence on December 2016. The results and findings from these pilot testing activities will serve as reference for the implementation of enterprise development for 2017.
A technical bulletin on enterprise development was also formulated to serve as the overall guide in the implementation and monitoring of enterprise development activities under the FMP.
As on-site forestland managers, the partner POs of FMP are given the capacity enhancement to equip them with the right knowledge and skills on how to improve their quality of life and ensure food security without sacrificing the sustainable use of forest resources. It is expected that the partner POs of the FMP will be successfully implementing their developed/established enterprises and in the long term, be able to generate ‘communal incomes’ to finance their collective responsibilities of developing, managing, and protecting their tenured areas.