Background

CAPACITY BUILDING SUPPORT AGENCY FOR OFSDP

OFSDP In Odisha

OFSDP, The Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project, was launched in 14 Forest Divisions (out of 52) of Odisha by the Department of Forest & Environment in 2007 with the support of Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project broadly aimed at restoration of degraded forests, and improvement in the livelihood of forest dependent communities.

Sewak’s Involvement In The Project
OFSDP
OFSDP

SEWAK’s prior involvement in forestation and plantation activities prompted it to join in partnership with OFSDS (Odisha Forestry Sector Development Society) to implement the project in Tamra&Panposh Forest Ranges,respectivelyunder Bonai& Rourkela Forest Divisions. In August 2007, it signed separate memorandums with the Divisional Forest Officers, Rourkela and Divisional Forest Officer, Bonai for providing man power and consultancy support for implementation of OFSDP in those forest ranges. Later on, it was selected to provide similar service in Birmitrapur Range too. A year within, Bisra range was also tagged to Panposh Range, extending the total numbers of ranges to be covered under SEWAK’s consultancy support and facilitations to four. Project offices were opened at respective range level,and SEWAK engaged its qualified staffs in teams of three each, consisting of a Team Leader and two Development Officers (Micro-Finance & Livelihood) in each of those Forest Ranges. The project work for Bisra FMU was carried out by the team members engaged in Panposh Range.

The Implementation Process

Through implementation of project, the field teams in all these Ranges were brought to bear on a wide range of activities. Their previous innocence as regards to some of the activities also proved beneficial in helping them to make fresh and objective assessment of the situations. The following activities were carried out in the field with the joint involvement of forest, NGO team and community people.

  • Demarcation of the JFM area
  • Formation & Strengthening of VanaSamrakshyanSamitis
  • Conduct baseline survey, PRA and development of Micro-plans
  • Conduct regular VSS level general and executive body meetings
  • Establishment of VSS nursery, rearing of plant
  • Silvicultural operation, plantation, soil-moisture conservation in the treatment area
  • Protection of forest from fire, grazing and theft with the active participation of executive members and community people
  • Formation and strengthening of SHGs; support for IGA
  • Linkage of SHGs to financial institution
  • Provide training to Animators
  • Arrange training of the VSS members/SHG
  • Organize staff capacity building through participation various weekly, Monthly review meeting, and Training, Workshop, Health Camps and exposure demonstration
OFSDP
OFSDP
Outcome Of The Project

During the consultancy period 59 village level Micro plans were developed in coordination with the villagers.

Under Entry point activity, OFSDP provided a lump sum to the VSS to buy or create any durable goods or asset for the community. Some of such assets created wereconstruction of platforms at the village center, repair, and construction of tube well platforms, construction of stair cases in ponds and to temple, repairing of roads, construction of worship sheds (Gorat) etc. In some VSSs, the members agreed to buy agricultural equipment, utensil set, dari, gas light etc. Fulfilling some of the immediate needs of the people helped the furtherance of project ideas very much.

Every VSS buildings that were constructed, worked asan infrastructural resource for the village. People are now sitting, conducting village meetings and organizing festivals on different occasions on its premises.

Another important achievement of our consultancy was however revival, formation and strengthening of 220 SHGs. Some of the older SHGs which had become completely dysfunctional were revived with minor changes in the membership structure. In some cases, such groups were given new names and new ledgers and bank accounts were opened by dissolving the former records. By now, all of them are credit-linked to either banks or VSS of their respective village. They have undertaken different income generating activities too.

Among the most common Income Generating activities there were Poultry rearing; Collection, Storing, Processing and Sale of NTFP, Rice processing, Vegetable Cultivation and Vending, Fishery and Small business. Health camp was one of the additional components of the project. Despite their low level of earning, people usually spend a major portion of their income on health expenses. These health camps apart from saving their money educated them on causes, symptoms, and prevention of illness.

Out of the 4108.5 hectare JFM area 3200 hectares were put under treatment during this period. More than one million Saplings of indigenous varieties, such as, Aunla, Harida, Bahada, khair, Gambhari, Simarua, Sisir, Sunari, Karanja , Tentuli, Sisu, Bamboo, Bela etc. were planted in the project area. This was a departure from the conventional selection of species like Saguan, Akasia etc. The communities issued ban on grazing of cattle in the plantation area and wasteful felling of trees everywhere.

Conclusion

OFSDP was a significant project in both scale and design. It enshrined a significant motif; the salvage of forests, on which depended the salvation of entire mankind. It was broadly a state sponsored educative enterprise by a law-enforcing department of the government to arouse man to present day realities; to lead him away from the domain of instinct and foster in him tender feelings for objects of nature. This partnership was closed in 2010 after completion of 03 years.

OFSDP is a nine-year project (2006-15) executed under JFM mode by an autonomous society under the Forest & Environment Department of Govt. of Odisha. The project aims at restoration of degraded forests and empowerment of the forest-dependent communities. Capacity building is an important component of the project, since the success of the project dwells upon the knowledge & initiatives of the community representatives who run the Vana Samrakshyan Samitis (VSS) - the key institution to carry forward these goals.

Under the conviction that there existed huge scope of improvement in capacity building activities for the VSS members and the project staff, OFSDP launched the Capacity Building Support Agency Program in Jan-Feb, 2012. SEWAK as one of the support agency for Deogarh, Rourkela &Bonai Forest Division is required to provide consultancy and handholding support in planning, developing and organizing capacity building programs and post-training institutional development services. For each forest division there are three staff, one CBSA coordinator and two training coordinators.

Aims & Objectives

The overall objective of the CBSA program is to facilitate consolidation and sustenance of the VSS as an empowered village level institution for democratic forest resource governance.

The following are the specific objectives of the program

  • Conduct comprehensive capacity building assessment and suggest capacity building strategy
  • Develop a cadre of resource persons on participatory & sustainable forest resource governance
  • Implement capacity building and empowerment programs for VSS
  • Develop coordination and monitoring mechanism during and after the training for ensuring delivery of desired services

During the first quarter of the project term (Feb-April 2012), or the pre-training period the CBSA staff worked consistently to develop a comprehensive capacity building impact assessment and strategy document (CCBA and CBSD). Touring across the extent of the project area, they went through the DMU/FMU and VSS level records to collect all available information on trainings conducted earlier under the project. They compiled a complete inventory of trainings and a comprehensive review of VSS wise participation which were preparatory to conduct of actual survey process.

In the strategy document, the CBSA offered four new modules for training, such as, on VSS management, Networking, Fundraising for VSS and Forest based Livelihood Visioning. The modules grouped fewer streamlined topics in a concise and consistent frame easy to be followed by the participants. Besides, it suggested stronger follow-up and monitoring mechanism to build up stakeholders’ confidence and realign field dynamics.