Discourses on poverty reduction from frestry in Nepal: A shift from community to household approach? (2007)

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Policies, practices, and discourses on forest management in developing countries have largely concentrated on shifting property rights from the state to community regimes. The “state to community” approach has often been glorified as a panacea to poverty reduction in national and global development frameworks such as gross domestic product and contribution to Millennium Development Goals, which have essentially overlooked the issue of livelihood justice at the household level from the “relative poverty” perspective. These frameworks, which focus on average incomes at the country level irrespective of variance between rich and the poor households and gender injustice even at the intrahousehold level, have often been insensitive to understanding the significance of natural, human, social, physical, and emotional livelihood outcomes to poorer households and the intrahousehold level. In Nepal, some recent initiatives look at how the poorer households can claim and demand community-level spheres of decision making, and gain equitable access to resource bases, rights, and other benefits. Such initiatives are emerging under different community-based forest modalities, notably in leasehold forestry (LHF) and community forestry. LHF was initiated in the early 1990s targeting at least in principle the poor households as the beneficiaries, excluding nonpoor households. Community forestry, although originally based on the broader community as the beneficiaries regardless of well-being status, has also started, at least at a token scale, providing opportunities to poorer households. Major pro-poor innovations in community forestry include, but are not limited to: allocation of forest patches for the poorest households, their involvement in enterprises and microfinance activities, and development and enforcement of household–community agreement to include the poor in forest users’ executive committees.

This paper examines the inadequacy of the prevailing community approach to reducing poverty from forestry and highlights the shift to the household approach for equitable poverty-reduction outcomes. The paper discusses the roles of critical civil society agents, the learning-oriented practices of development projects, ongoing social inclusion movements, and weakening feudal production relations as the enabling factors of the initiatives. Despite being a noble concept, the household approach to pro-poor forestry innovations has not gained momentum in Nepal, and it is still unclear whether poorer households can continue to expand their claim to rights, resources, and benefits from communal resource governance. We conclude that high transaction costs, the recentralising tendency of the Government, and inadequate policy–legal frameworks need to be analyzed to understand why the pro-poor initiative has not been expedited.
Year: 2007
Language: English
In: RECOFTC, 2007: http://www.recoftc.org/site/fileadmin/docs/Events/RRI_Conference/Proceedings/Paper_27_Dhungana_et_al.pdf,



 Record created 2011-12-21, last modified 2013-01-17