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Participatory Action Research into the Poverty Impacts of Community Forestry in Nepal

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Maharjan, Maksha Ram
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/483
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): community forestry
Abstract: "Community Forestry (CF)1 is increasing in Nepal. Currently the Government of Nepal has enabled the handover of more than 1.2 million hectares of forest land (over 25 percent of the total forest area of Nepal) to over 14,000 community forestry user groups (CFUGs). These include nearly 38 percent of the total population of the country. Despite the impressive scale of CF in Nepal, there are doubts about the levels of meaningful participation and livelihoods improvement of poorer households, leaving the equity and sustainability objectives of CF in disarray. Economic poverty, social inequity, and political marginalization are still seen in many CFUGs, especially among the most marginalized populations Dalits (lower caste and untouchables), ethnic groups, and women. Access of these groups to CF resources to enhance their livelihoods is still inequitable. Compounding these problems, the nation still continues to suffer from political instability with profound impacts on the practice of local governance and empowerment of poorer households, resulting in eventual production of an outcome that perpetuates or even reinforces social inequity and economic poverty. "To strengthen the empowerment of poorer households and increase the benefits they receive, many CFUGs and Civil Society Organizations like the Federation of Community Forest Users of Nepal (FECOFUN) are promoting democratic practices in their CF process. These include representation of marginalized groups on CFUG committees, activities to empower the poorest, equitable rather than equal distribution of forest products and programs that support the poor with specific income-generating activities, cheap loans, scholarships, etc., CARE Nepal conducted participatory action research in ten communities in the Eastern and Mid Western Churia, Bhawar and Terai region of Nepal to assess the impacts of such pro-poor interventions on livelihoods aspects of CF. This paper presents the main results of this action research on the potential for making CF approaches more pro-poor in order to improve livelihoods of poorer households."

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