“Model Forest School”: Actions Well Implemented Thanks to Well Trained Partners
A series of practical training courses in conflict management, participatory follow-up evaluation (SEP) and business creation and management for the actors of the two Cameroonian Model Forests
By Julie Gagoé and Gabriel Sarasin (Secretariat of the African Model Forest Network (SRAFM))
For over a month, SRAFM and partners, such as UICN, VSO and Agro-PME, have organized together with the actors of the Cameroonian model forests (CAMAMF and FOMOD) the « Model Forest School ». This school is mainly intended to promote the development of entrepreneurship at local level in accordance with economic governance and ecological sustainability requirements. Another purpose of the school is to participatorily design a learning, correction and conflict management facility through Model Forest SEP. These activities are in line with SRAFM's strategy to consolidate Campo Ma'am and Dja Mpomo Model Forests. Started end 2010-2011 financial year, these activities shall continue in 2011-2012 with well defined points for consulting and building the capacities of local actors on specific topics: conflict management, micro and small size business creation, participatory evaluation follow-up (SEP), branding of Model Forest products for compliance with the fundamental principles and values of Model Forests. Trainings shall hold in 6 to 8 months interspersed with field work.
With this series of trainings and the construction of a "Model Forest School”, SRAFM intends to:
♦ Develop the abilities of local actors to understand their conflicts and experiment key strategies for their resolution in a consultation, negotiation and communication context;
♦ Appoint local advisors in entrepreneurship or Local Expert Facilitators (EFL) for the follow-up of projects originating from the training;
♦ Set up a local SEP committee for each Model Forest which shall work in close collaboration with strategic partners (RAFM, UICN, VSO and Agro-PME).
Role of Actors
Three key partners cooperate with SRAFM in this programme for the creation of a “Model Forest School”:
♦ UICN: since 2009, SRAFM signed a memorandum of understanding with UICN for the establishment of a multi-partner SEP. With her great experience in the area of evaluation follow-up and change theory designing, she’s expected to follow-up change-related impacts at the level of forest landscapes and effects in Model Forests.
CUSO-VSO: in charge of the organisational follow-up aspect. The tool developed by CUSO-VSO shall relate to households, the landscape, projects, industries, conflicts management and shall thus help to evaluate changes in attitudes, habits and behaviours using the K/A/B (Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours) approach.
♦ SRAFM: supports the establishment of an effect observation unit or of a self-correcting system based on simplified indicators in order to analyze changes observed in Model Forest landscapes;
♦ Agro-PME: responsible for the training programme in business plan development and in business creation and management in order to boost the local economy on Cameroon MF sites.
For the effective operationalisation and implementation of the “Model Forest School”, the four partners adopted an approach based on the extensive use of emails, internal meetings and methodological integration workshops. Basic tools have thus been designed for the training, training sessions have been organized (with courses and field work during which participants apply lessons learnt to their own projects and self-marking evaluation) and a collective defined schedule. This preparatory phase helped to properly adapt the developed tools to participation, equity, relevance, feasibility and sustainability parameters of each step and training modules designed based on effectiveness and performance criteria.
From 3 to 5 August and 11 to 13 August 2011, the first trainings were organized at FOMOD and CAMAMF, respectively. The overall objective of these first training courses was to inform participants on ongoing activities, to participatorily design a learning, correction and conflict management facility through Model Forests SEP; to build capacities in understanding basic communication and role play concepts and conflict situation diagnostic studies; to help beneficiaries to select business project ideas with a good development potential; to build the capacities of entrepreneurs on good management practices for starting small businesses and to provide MF actors with means to carry out their own self-marking monitoring in the short, medium and long terms.
The following are the communications presented in each of the Model Forests:
♦ Introduction to business creation and management;
♦ Landscape SEP approach;
♦ Simplified indicator self-marking system;
♦ Model Forest Label;
♦ Business creation and management (CCE);
♦ Increase beneficiary influence on the planning and the review of our programmes
♦ Identification approach and follow-up of landscape performance;
♦ SEP method and tool of Model Forest principles and values.
The methodology adopted consisted in a series of activities including: presentation of communications on the following topics: interactive debates, analysis of real cases proposed by participants, exercises, self-diagnostics and personal reflexions and group interactions, group work and field work interspersed with plenary meetings and learning of basic theories and concepts.
♦ 46 participants trained in the Dja & Mpomo (FOMOF) Model Forest;
♦ 50 participants trained in the Campo-Ma’an (CAMAMF) Model Forest;
♦ Participants volunteered as business projects carriers on both sites;
♦ Participants volunteered as facilitators for business creation and management process on both sites;
♦ Change vectors were identified on both sites in the domains of ecology, local economy and social aspects and governance;
♦ Positive and negative change vectors on man and nature were targeted on Model Forest sites;
♦ Actions to be launched were identified in order to address negative and positive impacts on MF sites and checkers were designed for each of such actions;
♦ Eleven activities and presentations were carried out with participants during three days on each Cameroon MF site concerning SEP and business creation and management.
A second series of training sessions on project follow-up is scheduled in the immediate future (before December 2011). In the medium term (3 to 5 years), SRAFM intends to extend this experience of MF School creation to Model Forests under construction in the Congo Basin while integrating modules built on the two major challenges of rural and forest areas concerned: participatory governance and the development of a viable, sustainable and fair rural economy.