Making a living from forest protection
In Zambia, the UN’s forest protection scheme aims to compensate communities for protecting forests, instead of depleting them to make a living. People have been offered alternative livelihoods, such as eco-charcoal production or chicken farming, and communities were given payments and new infrastructure, such as borehole wells. But these benefits were imposed without consulting people about their needs. Unsuitable livelihood projects failed, forcing people to revert to logging protected tree species, or using slash-and-burn farming to feed their families. Money paid to village heads did not reach community members, and diverted funds meant boreholes were not properly drilled.
In response, Transparency International Zambia has trained local communities to participate fully in designing and monitoring forest protection projects. We produced a guide to the process in English and local languages, and brought together partners in five local projects to agree to full community involvement. People are now able to demand appropriate alternative livelihoods and full transparency in the use of funds – meaning they can protect what’s left of the forest that has sustained them for centuries.