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Evaluation Report on Free, Prior And Informed Consent Project

Background: This evaluation was conducted on the project “Support for organizational development and for training and technical assistance to help indigenous communities to negotiate agreements based on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)in the forestry sector” (in short, the FPIC project) for the period between September 2007 to June 2010. Two external evaluators were engaged by Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), namely Jannie Lasimbang and Arimbi Heroepoetri, to conduct the evaluation between May to June 2010.Purpose/objective:Based on the Terms of Reference, the goals of the evaluation were to get an overview of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges and gaps in the implementation and internal management of the FPIC project and to make a set of recommendations for the funding partners (RFN, GTZ and Ford Foundation), which can provide insights into the future relationship between AMAN and RFN.Methodology:The evaluation involved face-to-face discussions with project implementers, visits to all the three project sites, and feedbacks to the draft report through email. Key findings:Implementation of the legwork in three sites was done through direct contracts to Local Organisers (LO) that are linked to a local organisation, are trained community organisers and are familiar with the local conditions. While this may be an efficient way of maximizing available resources and allowed a quick start for the project in all three sites, there were gaps in daily supervision and shared learning which could have been remedied by involving local organisations. No direct involvement of local organisations in the project also meant that with project “closure” (except in Kuntu), there are uncertainties on continuity in terms of follow-up to ensure FPIC agreements are adhered to, and there are ongoing capacity enhancement of indigenous leaders in the three communities. A fairly large budget is allocated for human resources at the project management level but the amount dedicated for LOs and building of leaders is inadequate considering these are the backbone of the project sites. There was also insufficient allocation for translation to bridge the obvious lack of information in the reports to donors, and for advocacy and networking with the government and the private sectors. An annual analysis of allocations from different donors showing an overall picture and whether available funds are allocated according to priorities of the project was also missing. Decision-making among the three project partners were based on consensus with clear division of tasks and focus by each partner. The FPIC team was composed of very committed, well-informed and skilled members. They conducted regular monitoring together with the LOs in the field and produced very detailed reports, which unfortunately were not well-captured in the reports to donors, nor shared with the LOs and local organisations. Annual updated proposals were prepared after the partner organisations collectively discussed the plan of work for the year. However, these proposals were very much lacking in terms of information except for the 2009 Proposal. These proposals did not provide clear distinction between what was already achieved in the previous year and what still needed to be done, and with tendencies to copy past proposals and outputs. Progress and Annual Reports (both narrative and financial) to donors are made two to three months after the expected reporting period ended, but there was no realisation that such submissions were late. The language use (English) was unclear and there is lack of coverage. The reports would benefit from a more complete analysis of project achievements/gaps to provide a better picture on the ground especially before the end of the annual reporting period which can then be used to update the proposal for the upcoming project period.AMAN is responsible for managing the administration of the FPIC project. The change in the Project Coordinator in the middle of the project, coupled with a different focus from the new management affected the degree of understanding of the FPIC project and its strategic choices. FPIC agreements were basically drawn up as conflicts resolution mechanisms. The materials produced and published are comprehensive, providing a rights-based approach that could lend strength and support for communities to organise themselves but these are often delayed. A detailed analysis of relevant national laws, particularly on forestry laws, and training modules are yet to be produced. There is also a need to build more resource persons/facilitators FPIC. One of the key achievements of the project is that a number of sectors have been strengthened or created in the communities such as the negotiation teams in both Kuntu and Lusan, and the formation of the Punaliput Forum, to follow-up the aspirations of the community (Kuntu) or the demands as per agreement (Lusan and Lewolema). There was also some capacity enhancement of women. Sustained efforts to build up knowledge of the community on indigenous laws and practices and relevant national and international laws, and to strengthen community leaders/representatives/negotiation teams and community organisations are still needed. Inter-village sharing and communication has not been consistent or maximised, which may be necessary in building-up unity in the area in view of the multiple threats of land loss due to expansion by the private sector. The process of achieving and/or implementing the negotiated FPIC agreements took different paths and is at different levels and for each of the three sites. Both Lewolema and Lusan have reached an agreement and in the process of implementation and follow-up, while Kuntu is still preparing for the negotiation process. All three sites faced/are facing multiple challenges at different stages which constituted important lessons that can be applied in future engagements. An ongoing process of understanding the use of FPIC as a tool to strengthen land and community rights, and to negotiate with other private sectors and government departments present in the traditional territories of these communities are recommended. There appears to be acceptance of FPIC principles by the government, particularly the Forestry Department at the district, but there is poor institutional memory, and acceptance at the district level may not mean that the department adopts such principles. The project suffers from a lack of a clear mechanism/plan towards achieving the planned output of gaining government recognition. The formation of the Punaliput Forum showed that the local government in Flores Timor supports the FPIC agreement. However, it is unclear whether the Punaliput Forum has an understanding and desire to implement FPIC principles as its core values and commitments. For the private sector, both PT. RKR and PT. RAPP expressed that it is company policy to respect indigenous/community rights and demands, however there is a need to encourage companies to also communicate agreement (in the case of PT. RKR) or commitment to resolve issues with communities to build up consistency and understanding of the issues at hand. Organisations like YPPS, SPKS, Hakiki and Scale Up see FPIC as an important tool which they can use/have been using, and see networking and collaboration on advocacy work with government and private companies is also a possibility. Large amount of work with communities on FPIC negotiations already exists, where the information and other materials can be harnessed and disseminated widely. Materials for FPIC workshops and for general distribution were also described as one of the main output for the project. The output includes the production of maps through a participatory process, and spatial planning in all three sites can be a follow-up or possible activity for other future areas. In general, publications seem to be invariably delayed and it is critical to have a closer follow-up on planned publications date for research results, leaflets  and lessons learnt that could have served as a good background for leaders, organisations, government, private sectors and donors to have a better understanding of the process. Regular extraction of available information could have been done on the process of realising the FPIC agreements, negotiations and capacity enhancement from field monitoring reports to be used for newsletters and shared with leaders/interested communities and other relevant people. The expansion plan to six new sites was incorporated in the 2008 proposal but it was decided by the partners and donors that this was not feasible, and decided to focus on the three original sites for the duration of the project. Although much efforts and funds were spent on identifying sites, the FPIC team felt that this was not necessarily a waste as the information can be used later. In order to strengthen AMAN as an organisation, four activities were undertaken, namely building an AMAN website, database and library, internship, and Critical Legal Course. But these activities are not related to the FPIC programme except for the Critical Legal Course.An oral commitment and goodwill was made by all three partners to continue work in the three sites, but was unclear on who among the FPIC team members will follow-up the monitoring and legwork and how the LOs will be funded since the LOs and the organisations from Kuntu and Lusan are not independent enough to continue on their own. There are already initiatives from the LO in Lewolema to do expansion work and to draft the Peraturan Desa. There is also a need for the FPIC team to develop a module and to do a Training of Trainers to build up a team of resource persons. Recommendations:1. Effective interventions and sustainability in the sites to ensure community rights are respected through the FPIC concept can only be assured if strong leaders and local organisations exist. AMAN’s strategy to have strong community organisations as members, in the long term, is critical. Important mechanisms include identifying and building capacities of community leaders, especially women and youths; enhancing skills in advocacy and campaigning; providing more opportunities for networking and exchanges between community representatives; and helping local organisations to produce better quality reports and analyses. In the short-term and for the purpose of follow-up in the three sites, AMAN’s role could strengthen the Lembaga Adat for each of the three sites with the aim of achieving organisational stability. In Lusan, this may need to be a mixed committee comprising the existing traditional and new leaders and the Kepala Desa (or at least, his support). In Kuntu, this can be the Ninik Mamak and members of the negotiation team. In Lewolema, this could be the traditional leaders and community representatives in the Punaliput Forum. 2. A more collective and continuous approach to monitoring and assessment of the progress in the field will also ensure that the planned objectives and outputs are achieved. At the same time, increasing the shared learning and understanding among key people (project coordinator, resource persons, local organisers and community leaders etc) involved in the implementation of the project is critical. These may be attained through the key meetingsat appropriate times (usually before fiscal year end where an assessment can also be helpful to draw up new proposals/strategies), and through dissemination of relevant information to all key people. 3. Devote more efforts to refining and updating the FPIC concept and principles to deal effectively with land and resource rights of indigenous communities, building on indigenous, national and international laws. The negotiation strategies and priorities can then be reviewed and modified based on community needs and capacities. 4. Strengthen collaboration both locally and internationally in influencing government and private sector policies at the local and national level, and for AMAN and its local partners and networks to explore multiple strategies in advocating for the recognition of FPIC. This involves identifying key issues, and collaborating and building understanding with civil society organisations, and publishing and disseminating information in a timely manner. Willing government and private sectors (eg PT RAPP) can also be encouraged to hold workshops/seminars to promote understanding and acceptance among themselves respectively. 5. AMAN to improve project administration which includes improved and timely reporting to donors. Important mechanisms, particularly projects that involve multiple sites, include clear reporting format and timelines, division of tasks and responsibilities, monitoring mechanisms and ongoing analysis and assessments of project needs and outputs, as well as budget items and allocations. Adequate allocation for human resources and technical needs such as translation from Bahasa Indonesia to English and improvement of adminsitrative and technical capacities, should also be ensured. Comments from the organisation, if any: The evaluation report pinpoints some weaknesses in project management that the Rainforest Foundation Norway was already aware of, but it is very useful as it provides a background and explanation of why these problems occurred. Furthermore, it provides a detailed set of recommendations that the local partner will have to follow up on. Improvements in project management will be a condition for future cooperation between RFN and AMAN.