MCDI’s Annual Stakeholder Forum 2013
Each year, MCDI hosts a participatory Stakeholder Forum to which local and regional collaborators are encouraged to attend. The event provides a platform through which we and our partners can share and critically assess achievements and get input to shape future plans. The forum provides transparency in decisions, making MCDI accountable to the communities we support.
One key concern raised by communities related to logistical and/or technical delays in processing new Village Land Forest Reserves (VLFRs). Some villages’ progress was hindered by delays in gaining district approval of bye-laws. They urged MCDI to assist them to speed up VLFR processing, but acknowledged that this is beyond our control once the appropriate documents have been submitted for approval by District authorities.
The forum also discussed how delays in establishing VLFRs, and conflicts following their legal designation, occur as a result of disputes in respect to the location of boundaries defining neighbouring villages. MCDI continues to work closely with communities to resolve this; it is why we place such an emphasis on the importance of mapping VLFR boundaries accurately, with active participation from as many local stakeholders as feasible.
Another problem noted by communities is encroachment by outsiders, specifically pastoralists and illegal loggers. They requested that MCDI help to improve their capacity to enforce VLFR regulations by improving infrastructure and transport facilities for patrolling.
Villagers want more Community Forests
Despite facing these and other hurdles three villages asked MCDI to help them to expand and/or set aside additional areas of forest as VLFRs, a strong vote of confidence in our work. A primary motivation stems from growing forest revenues (amounting to over TSh 88 million, or nearly USD $54,000 earned by communities in 2013). Villagers chose to use this income in a variety of ways. Infrastructural developments were made in three villages, including a nurse’s office, a new classroom and teacher’s office, and a communal well. Another option adopted by some villages was provision of basic health insurance for vulnerable members of their community.