Earlier this month, the BCP Trust was thrilled to receive its ‘coolest’ in-kind donation yet: professional comic artist, Naomi Fearn, created an informational comic about deforestation, climate change and REDD+ specifically for our Community Engagement Team to use when promoting sensitization and awareness about BCP’s REDD+ project activities.
The informational comic, in addition to being visually appealing, is extremely helpful in that it allows us to expand our message to all community stakeholders, including those who are illiterate. BCP takes seriously our mission to reach as many community stakeholders as possible and to involve them in sensitization and consultation efforts, in line with the principle of obtaining Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). As of April 2013, BCP calculates that we have sensitized 86% of community stakeholders living within the Project Zone for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project, and among those we have consulted, we have received a 96% approval rate.
Since its initial launch at local community stakeholder meetings, the comic has already begun to transform the way that BCP communicates with community stakeholders about REDD+. The comic allows us to take participants through an illustrated narrative about deforestation, climate change and REDD+ activities, which is often instructive and entertaining at the same time. BCP also leaves copies of the comic, available in Engligh and Nyanja versions, in local communities, allowing them to read about BCP’s work in their own way and on their own time, and to promote sensitization among themselves in ways that are locally appropriate.
Community stakeholder in Chilimba Zone reading
BCP’s new informational comic
Community stakeholders in Chilimba go through the comic together, which was posted on the wall of the community school to make information available to all community members.
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.
BCP’s Community Engagement Manager describes the
structure and purpose to Village Committee members
in Chilimba, during a consultative ZDC Formation
Meeting that took place in January.
ZDC Representatives in Mweeshang’ombe Zone: ZDC Representatives are democratically elected by their villages, with the support of local traditional leaders. Importantly, although local traditional leaders are often older men in the communities we work with, BCP has found that communities often voted for women and younger adults to represent their interests.