Throughout the first quarter of this year, BCP has worked closely with local leaders and community representatives to establish four Zone Development Committees (ZDCs) in the project zone for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project. Since their initial launch in February, ZDCs have come to play a critical role towards helping BCP to design and implement effective community projects that benefit from local legitimacy.
Zone Development Committees are innovative, hybridized, community-based decision-making institutions that combine elements of democratic representation with traditional leadership structures. They help to provide a solution to BCP’s difficult task of effectively engaging with the approximately 8,300 residents that live across 28 villages and 4 community “zones” within the project zone. Comprised of representatives from every village in every zone, ZDCs are intended to be BCP’s primary information-sharing platforms and decision-making bodies when it comes to designing and launching community projects that are best able to achieve BCP’s aims of improving livelihoods and reducing local deforestation.
In the months to come, BCP will continue to work in partnership with ZDCs to identify and prioritize potential projects, and to fully consult stakeholders prior to project implementation. BCP anticipates that ZDC representatives will bring valuable local knowledge and legitimacy to discussions about community projects, and this will help BCP to select the most appropriate sites and participants for pilot projects. In so doing, BCP believes that ZDCs will help us to identify and pursue “best possible” project models for each activity—so that we can ensure that our projects bring maximum positive benefits to local communities and forest protection efforts. Although ZDCs will play an important role in BCP’s community project design and implementation process, BCP will continue to work closely with traditional leadership structures, local stakeholder groups and individual community representatives, towards launching the most effective community projects possible.