Niassa Reserve Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Project - end of first phase project evaluation
Background The report presents the findings of an external end of phase evaluation of the Niassa Reserve Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Project in Mozambique (2001-2005). The Niassa CBNRM Project was designed as a pilot project to assist the Niassa Reserve authorities to find ways of addressing the management issues that arise from the presence of more than 20 00 people living within the reserve. The project focuses on improvement of social well-being in the Niassa Reserve through active participation of community-based organisations in the protection, management and sustainable use of natural resources together with the management authority. The project began in late 2001 and ends in December 2005. It is funded by NORAD and implemented by WWF Norway and the WWF Southern Africa Regional Office (SARPO), through the WWF Mozambique Coordination Office (MCO) in conjunction with the management authority of the reserve, the Society for the Development and Management of the Niassa Reserve (SRN). Purpose/objective The Niassa CBNRM Project was intended to identify which activities were most appropriate to the legal and socio-economic environment of the reserve, and to inform the future decisions of the reserve authorities in terms of community policy and field approach. This report is the result of an evaluation of the first phase of the project carried out between July 19 and July 29, 2005. The primary purpose of the evaluation was to assess the impact, effectiveness and relevance of the project in relation to its objectives, target groups, partners and other affected parties, and to assess project results. A secondary purpose was to examine the extent to which the project had carried out the recommendations of an internal Mid-term Review which took place in March 2004. A further aim of the evaluation was to make recommendations for the continuation or otherwise of the project. The full Terms of Reference for the evaluation are contained in Annex 5 of the report. Methodology An independent reviewer carried out the evaluation with the assistance of WWF staff. Project documents including progress reports and relevant documents from other sources were consulted. Interviews were carried out with key stakeholders including local communities living within the reserve, reserve management staff, the WWF project team and local government officials. A meeting was held with the project team to examine the extent to which the recommendations of the March 2004 Mid-term Review (MTR) were implemented and to analyse progress against the logical framework indicators. The consultant provided feedback at the end of the evaluation to the Director of SRN, and the head of the WWF Mozambique Coordination Office (MCO). A draft evaluation report was circulated for comments and a final report compiled based on the comments received. Key findings The project experienced problems in its early stages due to problems in recruiting experienced staff, funding delays, personality clashes between the first project team leader and the reserve warden, and differences in interpretation about how the project should be implemented. The original design of the project was based on the assumption that there would be considerable revenue sharing between the reserve and resident communities of income from safari hunting and tourism. However the income from safari hunting has been less than envisaged and tourism has yet to develop in the reserve. As a result the project needed to re-orient itself towards income generation activities based on harvesting of natural resources such as fish and honey. The design was guided heavily by experiences in the southern African region on CBNRM which focuses on community rights over natural resources and incentives for communities to sustainably manage these resources. However, to some extent the project has also had to re-orient itself to working within a somewhat different context and set of issues - that of communities living within a protected area. The project started at a time when the reserve management authority (SRN) had no clear policy on addressing issues associated with communities resident in the reserve. The lack of a clear framework for SRN's approach to community work and involvement during the first phase meant that the Project needed to respond to changing circumstances and work within an experimental and evolving context. Collaboration with WWF during the first phase did however greatly influence SRN's ideas on the issue of communities, and the Reserve authorities are now in the process of developing a framework using an external environmental consultant with extensive experience and knowledge of CBNRM methodology. The project has managed to emerge from its early problems. Since late 2003 and latterly under a new team leader it has begun to achieve concrete results. Progress has been made in improving the attitude of people in the focal communities towards the reserve and its management staff. A start has been made in developing natural resource-based income generating activities (honey and fishing), on supporting resource user groups and strengthening Natural Resource Committees. Considerable progress has been made on helping communities deal with human/wildlife conflict through support to erecting and maintaining electric fences and the establishment of chilli pepper fences to deter elephants from raiding crop fields. The good progress made since late 2004 warrants the continuation of the project into a second phase but with some adjustments. To close the project now would lead to the dashing of hopes and expectations of villagers and a return to negative attitudes about the reserve. The next phase should be transitional towards a transfer of community conservation activities to SRN with a focus on strengthening the SRN capacity to implement community conservation. Recommendations Recommendations:A second phase of the Project should focus on the following areas under the existing goal and immediate objective: a) Institutional support to community NR resource committees and resource user groups. This would include strengthening the representativeness and accountability of the NR committees; legalisation of committees in order to receive the 20% state revenue share; organisational strengthening of NR committees and user groups; financial management training; support for negotiating co-management agreements with SRN and potentially the private sector; and support for deciding how to use income from revenue sharing and for accounting for this revenue. HIV/AIDS and the involvement of women should be addressed as part of the overall component of institutional support to communities. The project should try to partner with an organisation that specialises in HIV/AIDS issues rather than trying to implement activities itself. b) Capacity building to the Reserve community conservation team, particularly the proposed new SRN staff, including short courses, exposure visits and access to relevant literature. c) Support to income generation activities such as honey gathering, fishing and chilli production, including developing links to markets, micro-financing, and the identification of other income generation activities. If tourism starts to develop within the reserve and park policies allow for community concessions for campsites and/or lodges, then the project would provide support to communities in this area. d) Support to sustainable management of land and natural resources by local communities: this would include sustainable harvesting of honey and fish and any other resources for commercial use; addressing human/wildlife conflict; development of local resource use and regulations in conjunction with the reserve authorities; promotion of conservation farming; local land use planning; fire management; and, if emerging reserve policies allow, wildlife quota setting for own use and wildlife monitoring; Comments from the organisation The current management lease for the reserve ends in 2012 and SRN is negotiating with government for an extension for a further 25-year period. The likelihood of SRN receiving a continued contract is good according to government sources. This will become clear before end 2005. The ongoing development of an SRN reserve policy and strategy for working with resident communities by end 2005 should provide a clear framework within which a second phase of the project can operate. One of the assumptions for a continuation of the Project are therefore that a co-management policy is adopted by the Reserve Authority and remains in place, allowing benefits from resource use and other incentives to be sufficient for communities to participate actively in NR management.