Ethio Wetlands and Natural Resources Association (EWNRA) has officially launched REPFMA Phase III project on August 30, 2021 in Jimma Honey Land Hotel in the presence of invited guests from EFCCC, Oromia, SNNPR, and Gambella regions, as well as zonal level stakeholders.

The Objective of the workshop was to create ccommon understanding on opportunity and perspectives of phase III project and strengthen collaboration among stakeholders in the implementation of the project and sharing the best lessons learnt during the Phase II project implementation and to reach on consensus on how to sustain project results.

On behalf of his Excellency Ato Kebede Yimame, Deputy Commissioner of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission (forest sector), Ato Kabtamu Girma, Director General of Forest Protection and Conservation Directorate officially opened the workshop. In his opening speech, he said EWNRA envisages strengthening its success in the previous two phases of the project that contributed for maintaining and restoring the natural forests of Southwest Ethiopia in sustainable manner through its’ PFM approach and to expand lesson learned thereof.  

He wound up his speech by inviting all participants to actively participate and contribute their part to strengthen the implementation strategy of the project to realize its objectives.  

Ato Sisay Kassahun , Developent Fund (DF) Programme Director, disclosed that the DF development started supporting in the country since 1978 and currently supporting a number of projects in seven regions (SNNP, Oromiya, Amhara, Tigray, Afar, Somali and Gambella) in the following main thematic areas:-

. Food security and nutrition,

2. Climate change adaptation,

3. Alternative income generation activities,

4. Inclusion of marginalized communities (Women, youth, people with disabilities and minorities)

5. Forest management for climate mitigation and community benefits (REDD+) through PFM approach: the director has further explained that DF has supported three phases of REDD+ projects starting from 2013 (Phase I (2013-2015), phase II (2016-2020) and phase III (2021-2025)) with funding secured from Norad. He indicated that in phase III International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) is included as a new implementing partner to strengthen the results of the previous two phases, and promote best practice in implementation of PFM as well as fill the gap in livelihood diversification. Subsequently, he explained his expectation of the launching workshop by listing the following points: 1) creating similarities of approaches and synergies among various development efforts, 2) facilitate conditions for the timely accomplishment of project activities and 3) include the activities in the government plan, sustain the project results and scale out to additional areas as the projects’ life is limited to short period of time with limited budget.

Ato Ahamid Said, EWNRA Forest Program Coordinator, in his presentation of Phase II Project performance, explained the importance of the south west Ethiopia forest, rate of deforestation, strategy followed, locally adapted EWNRA’s PFM principles and implementation steps, PFM impacts in reducing deforestation and forest degradation and in the implementation of REDD+ as well as on livelihood. Lesson learned and challenges faced in the implementation of the project are also clarified.

Subsequently, Ato Kassahun Adelo, the project’s Mizan Aman Area Coordinator, presented last 18 years intervention of EWNRA in the area, its’ achievement, challenges in forest management and biodiversity conservation and lesson learned to expand in this project.   

After the two presentations the plenary discussion was undertaken led by W/ro Amarech Gedile (OFWE Ilu Ababor Branch Manager) left and Ato Kabtamu Girma (EFCCC – Director General of Forest Protection and Conservation Directorate) right.

During the plenary consensus was reached among the workshop participants to incorporate important lessons drawn from phase II to the new phase III. Coordination and synergy among sector offices at all level, increasing/maintaining the frequency of key stakeholders meeting, the importance of strengthening advocacy and awareness platforms for politicians/decision makers and legal authorities, strengthen alternative livelihood option and job opportunity to the growing population pressure were the major points raised and discussed.

Following the conclusion of the plenary discussion REDD+ Participatory Forest Management in South West Ethiopia Phase III project purpose, hierarchy of objectives, strategy, Main project activities, Project’s iterative operational approach presented by Ato Girma Ayalew, Project Coordinator

Then, Dr. Kalkidan Mulatu from International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) explained in her presentation about CIAT as well as its role on Phase III project: – Forest Monitoring Systems developed, Establishing functional platforms at various levels, Promoting best practice in implementation of PFM, Improving capability of public institutions to collect and analyse geo-data, Promoting the Diversification and inclusiveness of forest friendly livelihoods.

The plenary discussion was led by Ato Gizate Gije (EP and FCCCA Deputy Director General of SNNRPs) left and Ato Sisay Kassahun (DF Program Coordinator) right on the two presentations were undertaken.

During the plenary deep discussion was made on how far CIAT research is participatory, their structure to conduct the research and support the project as well as the technology they have to detect deforestation, means as well as procedure to validate their data.

Moreover, the importance of working together with cooperative office in creating synergy between the Primary forest management cooperatives and cooperative unions in case of Oromia region. The need for collaboration with other similar minded NGOs, universities and research institutes, importance of establishing platform for experience sharing among intervention regions including the federal government, strengthening forest friendly livelihood strategies and also institutional sustainability were among the major points discussed on Phase III plan.

Way Forward

The participant developed and reached consensus on the following way forward

  1. Strengthen collaboration with federal, regional, zonal and woreda level key stakeholders to enhance project efficiency and to overcome the challenges faced in the previous phases. 
  2. Strengthen the project intervention on livelihood options with due consideration of youth group
  3. Create platform to strength politicians and legal bodies contribution
  4. Work together with cooperative offices to be members of their respective cooperative unions,
  5. Strength the collaboration with universities and research centers to identify the opportunities and challenges of coffee in the project intervention area.
  6. Joint analysis on forest friendly alternative livelihood options.
  7. Geo- data base management and Forest Monitoring System sustainability.
  8. Establish lesson learning platform across the three regions
  9. Project sustainability and phasing out strategy should be fine tuned
  10. Continuous updating of risk assessment and mitigation options depending on the context.

Finally, Ato Gizate Gije SNNRPs EP and FCCCA Deputy Director General made closing remarks.  In his closing remarks he underlined the importance of collaboration among key stakeholders to protect and manage our Forest as the protected forest protects us and vice versa.