FPP Field Report Central African Republic/Dzanga Reserve, February/March 2011

FPP Field Report Central African Republic/Dzanga Reserve

FPP Field Report Central African Republic/Dzanga Reserve, February/March 2011

IntroductionForest Peoples Programme staff have recently returned from two weeks in the Central African Republic where we were working with the Bayaka Community Union and the World Wildlife Fund in the context of the EU-funded, Government of Central Africa Republic-implemented, and WWF-supported Dzanga Sangha project in which FPP is a partner. The objective of the EU project is to promote and improve local and especially indigenous livelihoods and sustainable development in the Dzanga Special Reserve in the context of increased protection for community rights, along with improved access to health and education services. The project is especially targeting the indigenous population of Bayaka forest huntergatherer communities, and the Sangha Sangha people, now a minority group traditionally based predominately along the rivers of the region. This EU project is one of a number of donor-funded projects implemented by the government, with technical and financial support from WWF, which together enable the Dzanga- Sangha Special Reserve to operate.This EU-funded project has gone through various challenges over the past 2+ years, primarily due to the fact the international project coordinator originally hired to oversee this work failed to target Bayaka specifically at the outset of the project, focused the bulk of project activities on the health sector, and then left after 1 year of a 3 year contract. There was then a long delay during the search for a qualified replacement. This left the project without adequate technical support personnel for almost a year, and heading in the wrong direction, in a context in which indigenous communities were already marginalised. This meant the project community communicators, who were 50% Bayaka (one of the project’s significant achievements thus far) and national staff were not able to address all of the different areas set out in the original funding proposal.In the context of the EU-funded project, FPP visited the project last year and carried out a complete review of the activities and outcomes. FPP then made a series of recommendations about changes that needed to be made to bring the project back in line with the original plan, and which WWF and national project staff subsequently implemented. Later in 2010 WWF finally found the necessary international technical support for the project, and the current CTDD (Conseil Technique de Developpement Durable) has done a superb job in redirecting the project back towards the original plan, including providing logistical support to the Bayaka Community Union (UCB), which is now an official CAR association. While this support to the UCB is clearly in line with the overall objectives of this project, it was not specifically written into the original project proposal, because the UCB has only just become an official organization.

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