Issue 1 – November/December 2004

In this issue

IFAD’s strategy for the Asia and the Pacific Region

IFAD's strategy for Asia and the Pacific regionThe Millennium Development Goals guide IFAD’s work, as reflected in its strategic framework for 2002-2006. The framework’s strategic objectives for Asia and the Pacific are:

  • changing unequal gender relations to increase women’s ownership and control of assets and their effective participation in community management
  • enhancing the productivity of staple foods in less favoured areas
  • reforming property and tenure rights of marginalized minorities and indigenous peoples
  • expanding the capabilities of the poor and vulnerable through greater access to self-help, local accumulation, new skills and technologies

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Project highlights: Leases on degraded forests help reduce poverty in Nepal

Project highlights: Leases on degraded forests help reduce poverty in NepalThe Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project was launched by the Government of Nepal in 1989. Its goal was to reduce poverty and restore degraded environments in the Middle Hills by leasing small blocks of degraded, public forest land exclusively to the poorest rural households for 40 years. The long-term lease provides poor people with long-term security of tenure and the incentive to regenerate, protect and manage degraded forest areas under their use, while offering them benefits.

The US$ 20.4 million project was financed by an IFAD loan of US$ 12.8 million, a US$ 3.4 million grant from the Government of The Netherlands, and contributions of US$ 2.7 million from the Government of Nepal and US$ 1.5 million from project participants. When the project ended in 2003, a total of 7,457 hectares of degraded forest land had been handed over to 12,028 poorest rural households for regeneration.

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ResultsA project evaluation mission in 2003 and impact studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found that the leasehold forestry project has contributed considerably to improving the livelihoods of rural poor people, especially women, and to improving the condition of degraded forests.

There has been significant impact in the following areas:

  • Annual household income increased from leasehold-forest sources.
  • Increased income translated into greater food security and improved diet for children.
  • The number of goats in leasehold households increased.
  • Availability of animal feed and forage self-sufficiency increased significantly.
  • After five years, women spent fewer hours collecting forage and firewood.
  • Women’s self esteem and confidence rose because they had more time for income-earning activities and to attend meetings, training and literacy classes.
  • School attendance increased, because there was less need for children to herd grazing animals.
  • Environmental degradation reversed at most sites.
  • Biodiversity increased significantly.

The project’s impact on poverty was also highlighted in a case study presented at the May 2004 conference in Shanghai, China, on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction: A Global Learning Process.

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Learning and innovation

Learning and innovationThe project took a genuinely new approach to pro-poor forestry in Nepal . It was particularly innovative in these areas:

  • It was one of the first forestry and livestock projects in Nepal to focus exclusively on poor households.
  • There was a strong partnership between the Department of Forests and the Department of Livestock Services, which enabled forestry and livestock activities to be linked.
  • Systematic gender and development training for project staff and participants focused on both men and women. This gender approach was presented as a “best practice” at the 12th World Forestry Congress held in Quebec in September 2003

Once the leasehold forestry approach was successfully piloted and its impact proven, the Government scaled up the approach from the initial ten districts to 27 priority districts in the hills of Nepal .

It has also been found that leasehold forestry can be complementary to Nepal ’s well-established and successful community forestry programme. The programme now addresses specific poverty dimensions, such as allocation of land to the poorest members of community-forestry user groups.

"Our life has changed for the better, women in our community are more active today than men," said 40-year-old Maya Chepang at a recent workshop in Kathmandu . According to Maya, who lives in Deurali village in Makawanpur district in central Nepal , women are now raising goats, sheep and cows and earning cash. “We have been able to speak before groups, and to read and write."

One of the most important aspects of ensuring successful innovation is the incorporation of learning and experimentation. Some of the most important changes in design as a result of learning and experimentation during project implementation included the following:

  • There was a shift in focus from credit access to land access.
  • The formation of informal organizations of user groups, called “inter-groups”, as well as cooperatives to provide services in areas such as microfinance and marketing, enabled leasehold members to resist expropriation of resources by local elites. This was important, because local power structures can be challenged when secure land tenure is granted to poor groups, and this can result in conflict.
  • Women group promoters were recruited to network and mobilize people to become involved in user groups, and to support and train leasehold forestry groups. Funds were directed to capacity-building of inter-groups and cooperatives. ( The need for capacity-building and networking had been underestimated in the original project design.)
  • The regenerative capacity of the natural vegetation, underestimated in the original project design, reduced dependency on the planting of trees, legumes and grasses to regenerate the productivity of leasehold sites.

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Policy implications

Policy implicationsAs a result of the project's impressive impact on poverty, the Government adopted a Leasehold Forest Policy in 2002. Leasehold forestry was identified by the Government as a priority programme in the Poverty-Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)/10th Plan 2002-2007. The PRSP noted, “Given its high success, the leasehold programmes would be further expanded.”

In 2002, the Government began expanding leasehold forestry into a national poverty programme using its own resources. To assist the Government in implementing this national programme, IFAD has designed a follow-up to the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project. The Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme will be submitted to IFAD's Executive Board for approval in December 2004. To ensure enhanced coordination and harmonization of forest programmes in Nepal , the Government is supporting the establishment of district forest coordination committees. This should allow community forestry and leasehold forestry to be mutually supportive programmes at the district level.

“Today, well over 1,600 leasehold forestry groups that are nurturing forests in the otherwise ‘hopeless slopes and ravines’ have been formed. More are in the process of being formed”, said J. K. Tamrakar, Director General at the Department of Forests. “This is a very good programme, and the impressive outcomes of the last decade have encouraged the government to go on”, he said.

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Partnership building in Central Asia

Partnership building in Central AsiaThrough its country programme development in central Asia , IFAD is involved in the multi-donor Strategic Partnership Agreement for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in central Asia . The partnership includes the following agencies:

  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  • Global Mechanism of the Convention to Combat Desertification (GM)
  • German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • Asian Development Bank (AsDB)
  • International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

The Central Asian Countries Initiative on Sustainable Land Management (CACILM) goes even further in developing a programmatic country framework approach for sustainable land management.

CACILM is a ten-year programme of country-driven action and resource mobilization that aims to achieve:

  • strengthened policy, legislative and institutional frameworks, creating conditions for sustainable land management
  • increased capacity of key institutions responsible for planning and implementing land-management interventions
  • improved land management through the combination of appropriate enabling policies and targeted project investments

The progress already made in forming partnerships provides the basis for launching a multi-country, donor partnership to apply a long-term, programmatic, comprehensive and integrated approach to land degradation. This framework provides opportunities to develop complementarities with the sustainable land-management programmes of members of the CACILM taskforce and other stakeholders. Such complementarities are in line with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) framework on sustainable land management, which is supported by AsDB and other partners, including IFAD.

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Martina Spisiakova
Tel: 3906-54592295

About IFAD

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in developing countries. Its work in remote rural areas of the world helps countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Through low-interest loans and grants, IFAD develops and finances projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves.

IFAD tackles poverty not just as a lender, but as an advocate for the small farmers, herders, fisherfolk, landless workers, artisans and indigenous peoples who live in rural areas and represent 75 per cent of the world’s 1.2 billion extremely poor people. IFAD works with governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, local communities and many other partners to fight the underlying causes of rural poverty. It acts as a catalyst, bringing together partners, resources, knowledge and policies that create the conditions in which rural poor people can increase agricultural productivity, as well as seek out other options for earning income.

IFAD-supported rural development programmes and projects increase rural poor people’s access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources.

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Upcoming events:

Loan negotiations for the South Gansu Poverty-Reduction Programme, China, 22-23 November 2004, in Rome, Italy.

IFAD Portfolio Review Workshop , 23-24 November in New Delhi, India.

Informal seminar on the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty in Asia and the Pacific Region: progress, prospects and priorities, 25 November, New Delhi, India  

IFAD Programme Review Workshop , 26-28 November in Tuyen Quang , Viet Nam .

IFAD Executive Board , 1-2 December, will consider the following programmes for approval:

Bangladesh: Microfinance for Marginal and Small Farmers Project

China: South Gansu Poverty-Reduction Programme

Indonesia: Rural Poverty-Reduction Programme for Marginal Communities in Central Sulawesi Province

Nepal: Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme

Pacific Island Countries: Sub-regional Strategic Opportunities Paper; and Regional Grant for the Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations Programme

Viet Nam: Decentralized Programme for Rural Poverty Reduction

Useful links

WFP-IFAD Partnership Website

Knowledge Networking for Rural Development in Asia and the Pacific Region (ENRAP)