In January, seven even new Community Mobilisers (CMs) joined the growing BCP/CFP implementation team in Mfuwe. CMs are local hires from rural Chiefdoms, who are intended to support ongoing community engagement, mapping, sensitization and data collection work related to the development of new REDD+ projects in these Chiefdoms, under the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP). Among other things, CMs will be in charge of organising the community stakeholders within their specific Chiefdoms and collecting household data on livelihoods.
The new mobilisers were selected through a transparent, competitive process led by BCP in collaboration with Chiefdom representatives from traditional leadership and/or local institutions such as Community Resource Boards (CRBs). The CMs were selected from seven Chiefdoms in Mambwe and Lundazi Districts, and include: Lufeyo Zulu from Nsefu, Emmanuel Milanzi from Kakumbi, William Sakala from Malama, Rhoda Mbao from Jumbe, Bornface Simunshi from Msoro, Paul Weza from Mnkhanya, and Doubt Phiri from Mwanya (under Lundazi district). To date, these 7 Chiefdoms have expressed interest in participating in the CFP, and as such, these new CMs were hired in January, in anticipation of upcoming needs to increase local engagement in participatory REDD+ project development activities, as we hope to sign agreements to launch new REDD+ projects in these Chiefdoms within this upcoming year.
To empower the new CMs with the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct successful field work, the BCP/CFP team conducted a week long orientation and training detailing their new roles and responsibilities. The training was also aimed at equipping the new Community Mobilisers with skills on engaging the community on different issues including forest conservation. It was an interactive training with a lot of fun memories!
The new Community Mobilisers acquired skills in community organisation, including the use of Participatory Learning Action (PLA) tools for engaging the community in discussing issues affecting them. To set the ground, the trainers defined ‘Community Mobilisation’ as “a process that brings community members at centre where they identify issues affecting them and together as a community identify solutions or develop ideas for community action”.
One notable PLA tool was “a transect walk”. This tool is used to explore the local area around a community and has been used successfully in natural resource management. It allows people to take note of the different agro-economic zones and compare topography, land type, land use, soil type, soil fertility, vegetation, crops, social problems, opportunities, and possible solutions. Knowledge gained from such tools / activities will be used to engage target communities in the development of Participatory Forest Management Plans (PFMPs) for new REDD+ protected forest areas under the CFP.
If correctly applied, Community Mobilisation addresses individual and/or social fears, doubts, myths and hopes, and gives voice to the communities, empowering them to participate in the selection of forest for conservation, how they share resources, and ultimately benefit.
The training was facilitated by Godfrey Phiri, the Senior Community Engagement Manager, assisted by three community Engagement Managers — Esau Shawa, Nchimunya Hambote, and Willie Shuma — and four Community Officers: Kennedy Tembo, Hebron Yowela, and Noah Mbewe. Marvin Mpola, a GIS Specialist on the CFP team, also participated, and the CFP Technical Coordinator also facilitated the training.
The CFP is excited to welcome the new Community Mobilisers to our team, and we look forward to working together to support new REDD+ activities in these 7 Chiefdoms, and beyond, in the upcoming year.
This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.