The GREEN Mekong Challenge Fund (GMCF) has continued producing successful results across the Mekong region, including in Myanmar and Lao PDR, where two GMCF recipients, Metta Development Foundation (METTA) and Lao Biodiversity Association (LBA), respectively, are making strides at the grassroots level. The GMCF was originally conceptualized to support CSO participants in implementing the action plans produced during the launching training workshop; it has since shown its full capability, both allowing creativity and innovation among recipient organizations and providing opportunities for the CSOs to put their equity training to use.
While METTA’s project will continue until August 2015, over the first three months, April to June 2015, their capacity building on equity for community based organizations (CBOs) has already produced results, covering 10 villages and benefiting 1,826 households. The workshops are designed to strengthen the capacities of CBOs and Mangrove Resource Management Committees (MRMCs) to improve leadership and organizing skills, knowledge about equity, good governance and management, to ensure meaningful engagement with mangrove forest based communities.
In addition to building capacity on equitable governance, METTA’s workshop organization process was equitable itself, cooperating closely with the villages to ensure inclusion of women and small fishermen who depend solely on the natural mangrove forest. Once the workshops were underway, participants were able to share their contributions to and relationships with natural resources. This led to a greater understanding between different stakeholder groups and an understanding of why each’s participation is important. U Tin Kyay, Maung from Pa village, noted: “We need to conserve the natural mangrove forest systematically through community contributions. If we do not conserve the existing mangrove forests, farmers who are near the mangrove forests will be more seriously impacted than others.”
Due to deforestation, farmers who are near the natural mangrove forest are directly harmed more than others, although in the current situation, they also cut the mangrove forest; they need to be engaged and also to contribute to the natural mangrove resource management mechanism.
-Daw Kyi Thaung, Kyaut Ngu village,
Metta Development Foundation project participant
In Lao PDR, LBA’s work under the GMCF has centered on delivering Training of Trainers. Their main targets are local government officials who interact and work with communities in the management of forest resources around the Phoutaxan Conservation Area in Phongsaly Province. Twenty officers from the District Office of Natural Resource and Environment (DONRE) and the District Justice Office (DJO) were introduced to the concept and principles of equity in forest governance and trained on how to improve engagement with local communities to increase awareness of relevant laws and strengthen dialogue and feedback on local forestry issues.