Lobbying and Advocacy as a Means for Realizing Rights over Common Property Resources

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"Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN) is a Non-Government Organization which is functioning as a network as well as a training Institute. The mission of FECOFUN is to safeguard natural and legal rights of forestry users, inculcate self-reliance, and increase decision making capacity of forest user groups. "The author would like to share FECOFUN's experiences relating why it had to get involved in lobbying and advocacy, what processes they have utilized and what results they have until now. The author will conclude with lessons learnt and how can this be replicated in a broader context. "Though the forest policy of Nepal is known to embody pure, sacred and human values, and consensus based processes, but there is no practical mechanism to operationalize policy and laws because it needs commitment to apply them effectively. Nepal's community forestry movement faces a critical situation because of mismatch between intention of legal and policy provisions and practices in the field, and difference between people's needs and the government's intention to implement them. "Therefore, FECOFUN has been concentrating its efforts to raise awareness of people about their rights, prepare them for asserting their rights through organizing and helping them take over forestry resources for management and fulfillment of their basic forestry product needs. However, forest bureaucracy and political forces have used forest for their own benefits for ages; so there is conflict of interests. As these forces have administrative and judiciary backing, forest user groups find themselves helpless in terms of realizing their natural and legal rights. Thus, FECOFUN, in collaboration with its natural allies, has spearheaded a lobbying/advocacy program which has had mixed results. However, FECOFUN feels certain that users will have upper hand in this battle. "In Nepal, multinational projects and NGOs have created many development programmes but they have helped to create mental slackness and dependency by providing employment opportunities to educated and allowances to half educated people. Therefore those organizations and people don't want to adopt advocacy because they are afraid of being robbed out employment and facilities by the government. Disadvantaged and poor people want development, which can solve their problems of hand to mouth, so they have remained silent until now. FECOFUN has started to organize such people for asserting their rights. This paper will describe strategies, methods and processes applied; make critical assessment in terms of successes and failures, and conclude with practical recommendations. "Conclusion: "We believe that all the organization institutions and projects, which are involved in community welfare, can not avoid advocacy while organizing their programmes. If advocacy is rejected carelessly, such development activities can exist temporarily only or can not sustain at all."



IASC, common pool resources, community forestry, forest management, advocacy, property rights, NGOs