|Mr. Bounchanh, Deputy Director of the Provincial Forestry Secion in Luang Prabang, engaging participants to visualize the notion of equity|
The concept of equity and its benefits understood through field practice: a testament from Lao PDR
After attending a series of trainings in Lao PDR in November, 2014, Mr. Bounchanh Lattanavongkot, Deputy Director of the Provincial Forestry Section in Luang Prabang Province, had an opportunity to put his knowledge into practice and gain a concrete impression of the benefits of promoting equity in forest governance. Mr. Bounchanh was one of the provincial government officers participating as facilitators in the focus group discussion on ‘Equity in Forest Governance with a Gender Focus’ organized in Lao PDR.
The Lao facilitators were the members ofthe GREEN Mekong Regional Learning Group (RLG). Through this experience as facilitators, they were given opportunity and exposure to put the knowledge and skills from their previous training to practice.
The experience of being facilitators helped the members in their learning about equity. The Regional Learning Group Members say they now better understand the subject matter and delivery process in forest governance as well as the equity elements, which help them to assess progress and set goals within a local context.
“To foster participation is to guarantee their rights of access to natural resources. And, as we guarantee their rights, it brings about equity. The people feel that they have rights and benefits from the work”, says Mr. Bounchanh. “Participation is also about benefits sharing. So when rights and benefits are involved, the people will participate automatically. As the people, villagers and community gain confidence, they will participate. So ensuring equity is ensuring public participation.”
The GREEN Mekong Program successfully conducted its three Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in Bokeo, Xaysomboun and Attapeu Provinces in Lao PDR over October and November, 2014. The objectives of the event were to 1) identify and prioritize key ‘equity’ related issues, including challenges, in the context of forest governance and relevant program in each of the provinces, 2) assess existing mechanisms and strengths in forestry management to build upon in order to improve equity in forest governance for local people, and 3) identify, assess and propose approaches and recommendations to address gaps in equity, particularly gender equity, in the context of forest governance and relevant program