Increasing Equity and the Livelihoods of the Forest Dependent Poor through Adaptive Collaborative Approaches: Experiences from a Non-Timber Forest Product Network Enterprise in Eastern Nepal


"This paper examines the performance of the ACM based planning process for increasing benefits to poorest of the poor households in eastern hills of Nepal. This research is part of on-going CIFOR led project funded by IDRC during March 2004 to September 2005. Ten Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs, with rights over some two thousand hectares of Community Forests and more than 1000 member households, were federated into network in one of the project districts. The network has rights over some two thousand hectares of Community Forests with more than 1000 member households. Of the total members, 40% women, 20% poorest of the poor, 20% village traders and 20% other general members are included in the general assembly. These members elected 9 member committee including 3 women. Four sub-groups (common interest network groups) have been formed within the network based on the type of NTFP available in their Community Forests. "The study reveals that attitude of chiefs, elites and CFUG leaders seems to have changed towards providing benefits to poor, and have attempted a wide variety of forest management initiatives. In many CFUGs with strong leadership have attempted to preserve valuable Non- Timber Forest Product (NTFP) species such as Nardostachys grandiflora and Asparagus racemosus. The forest management system has changed from protection oriented (restricted use) to use right system of NTFP resources for the poor. The poor and marginalized groups of people including women have received an increased share of benefits from use of NTFP resources in all of the CFUG sites of the network. Of the total households, five percent of the poorest of the poor households are being provided with NTFP collection license and the necessary revolving funds to invest share in their network enterprise. The Livelihood Forestry Program funded by DFID and the World Conservation Union have created revolving funds of rupees 200,000 for these poorest of the poor households. These households get benefits in four ways (1) have access to employment opportunities (work as NTFP collectors (2) They get share dividend based on their shareholding (3) They will receive a dividend based on their CFUG shareholding and (4) They receive productivity bonuses and wages while working in the NTFP processing company. With these provisions, small common interest network group consisting of only women member of Allo products has been able to increase profit margin from sale of Allo clothes. The bargaining power of poor collectors has increased in the marketing chain. Nonetheless there is still a fear and uncertainty of how above mentioned benefits will be equitably distributed in long run among different groups of people involved in NTFP network in future as the competition for access to common property resource (CPR) would be increasing."



IASC, forest products, collaboration, adaptive systems, bargaining, common pool resources, poverty alleviation