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Best Practices & Innovations (BPI) Initiative Building Local Organizational Capacity for Agriculture & Rural Livelihoods

Civil Society and Market Networks for Pro-Poor Sustainable Development in the Ayeyarwady Delta Mercy Corps Details:
Location Start Date End Date Scale Target Population Myanmar 03/01/2009 10/30/2012 State/Provincial/Sub-national Community Based Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, Professional category (traders; fishermen); Small and Medium Enterprise (SME),Women; Young people Submitting Organisation (SO), Mangrove Service Network (MSN) and Eco-Dev European Commission EUR 596,668 https://www.mercycorps.org/

Number of beneficiaries Partners Funders/Donors Total Funding Website

Overview:
The key innovation of Mercy Corps project involves the introduction of a market-based approach to energy poverty as part of a DRR strategy following Cyclone Nargis. High quality fuel efficient stoves have been designed, tested, and commercialized through a network of CSOs. Access to affordable stoves reduces household expenditure on fuel by over US$70 per year, while conserving protective forest land and supporting entrepreneurship. The project has also provided a platform for motivated community members to play a rare active role in civil society, creating an incubator for a new generation of civil leaders and enabling a bottom-up approach to local problem solving.

1. Background/Context
Civil society in Myanmar is highly restricted and has not played a significant role in the development of the country. For over three decades, Myanmars population has suffered longstanding economic mismanagement by the ruling military government, which has resulted in widespread social and economic poverty for the majority of the population.

Private (informal, professional or community-based) safety nets have been strong, characterized by strong family and village bonds1. In the aftermath of the Cyclone Nargis, many community based organizations (CBOs/CSOs) sprung up to help organize and distribute relief assistance to their communities. These organizations are important because they have the potential to foster Sustainable Environmental Development (SED) and reduce poverty in the delta by helping to drive local solutions that are sustainable and effective. However, in most cases they lack the necessary skills and resources required to address chronic poverty and unsustainable resource utilization. Building the capacity of these local CSOs to develop and implement projects has been limited by local social conditions and particularly due to government perceptions of CSOs as a political threat, rather than a resource, and government policies which aim to diminish the role of civil society. Apart from the above challenges firstly nearly all the people living in the villages of Laputta Township use a traditional three stone stoves for their daily cooking which are inefficient, consuming a lot of fuel wood compared to the Fuel Efficient Stove (FES), resulting in a financial burden to the household. Secondly during the collection of firewood the whole family helps to collect their households firewood. This has a direct impact on income generation, education and health, due to having to travel long distances to remote areas to find firewood, which are only accessible by boat in Laputta Township. Compounding these problems is the lack of government capacity and resources to address environmental concerns, and the constraints imposed by policies that are detrimental to local control of natural resources that might allow for sustainable management and market access of forest products. The project Civil Society and Market Networks for Pro-poor Sustainable Environment Development in Ayeyarwady Delta sought to address the identified challenges associated with the environment and limited CSO capacity, by using energy poverty as a conceptual framework to address poverty reduction. Through this project, the Submitting Organization (SO), Mangrove Service Network (MSN) and EcoDev organized stakeholder meetings, skills training for technology transfer and civil society capacity building through the Food Security Working Group (FSWG) (a network of 31 local and international NGOs) and the Laputta Community Resource Centre (LCRC). In conclusion this was an actor-oriented project that worked with local civil society organizations (CSOs) through the FSWG and member organizations in Laputta, using the LCRC as a platform. As a result, through its networks and workshops, SO contributed to improved policy environment for CSO engagement in sustainable environmental development (SED), thus reducing energy poverty and deforestation in the intervention project sites

2. Goals & Objectives


The goal of the project was to build civil society networks to lead recovery and SED practices, reducing poverty and deforestation in resource-poor cyclone-affected communities in Laputta Township. In addressing the overall goal the specific objective was to promote the widespread use of Fuel Efficient Stoves (FES) and social reforestation strategies to achieve sustainable reductions in household poverty and reversals in deforestation through civil society-led and market-led strategy. The project will achieve this objective in part by conducting a baseline Energy Poverty Survey (EPS) and by disseminating 14,000 FES. The provision of stoves, together with training in improved food preparation techniques, will serve to reduce the demand for fuel-wood thereby reducing the level of, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve health by lowering levels of smoke inhalation. The project stimulated community-led sustainable resource management and a mechanism to reduce energy poverty for the poor. This was achieved by triggering a process of replication and expansion
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Study by Local Resource Center on community groups,2009

through strengthening civil society. The targeted groups consisted of NGOs, CBOs, traders, women, youth and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME). The project initially focused on CSOs as the primary agents of change, with a total of 20 CSOs participating in a series of trainings designed to build organizational capacity. This resulted in delta communities in and around the targeted areas becoming stronger civil societies. In addition to CBOs, 10 sapling owners were targeted to establish sapling nurseries to grow/produce saplings and 20 FES makers trained in FES production. Local input suppliers and traders were also linked to the action, to ensure wider market development. The CSO is viewed as the agent of change: - the CSOs were provided with a series of trainings on organizational development and cash grants were provided to replicate the project. In Reciprocal the CSO believes change can be brought about through empowerment and experiential learning to replicate the project. The outcomes of this action were:1. An effective business model developed to contribute to the dissemination technology and practices for positive outcomes for energy poverty reduction and reforestation. 2. Vulnerable households income generated and improved by producing saplings and conservation of village forest. 3. Civil Society organizations capacity in Laputta Township strengthened to manage sustainable environmental development projects and to engage in effective networking and policy advocacy. 4. Enabling environment created for energy poverty reduction and reforestation in Laputta Township

3. Key Activities
The activity started with the implementation of four model projects by MSN. These projects applied the methodology identified in the Energy Poverty Survey (EPS) and implemented as means to achieve environmentally sound, economically viable and culturally appropriate interventions to alleviate poverty and advance SED. These four projects are monitored and evaluated by trained CSOs and serve as a model for replication through fourteen CSO pilot projects. The four model projects include two model projects for reforestation and two for energy poverty reduction. The projects will be implemented through a two-phase approach. In the first phase (year 1), two small projects will test the community-led and market-driven approaches for reforestation and energy poverty reduction following the business model designed in the project. This first phase will include a Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation involving the community, the FSWG implementing partners interested to participate, and the CSOs trained by the LCRC. The second phase (year 1 & 2) will build on the lesson learnt and replicate the approach to a larger scale though two additional reforestation and energy poverty reduction projects. In the meantime, sixteen similar pilot projects will be implemented by fourteen selected CSOs leading to strengthened civil society and enhancing the market-led and community-led dissemination of fuel efficient stove and reforestation strategies. We have carried out the following activities to achieve the objectives as follows:1. Launching ceremony for the opening of the LCRC Energy and Forestry Project 2. Training of Mercy Corps, LCRC and MSN Staff 3. Convene sustainable energy and community forestry stakeholder meetings to kick off the programme. 4. Baseline Energy Poverty Study (EPS) conducted.

5. Workshops on "Business model for fuel wood saving technologies and community forestry" conducted with FSWG partners and other stakeholders in Laputta and Yangon to define a business model (publication produced) 6. MSN select villages for stove making introduction and organize Community mobilization, community environmental workshops, and participatory selection of 20 individuals to train on green stove making 7. MSN provide technical trainings for stove makers 8. LCRC provide business planning training for stove makers 9. LCRC and MSN give cash grants for input procurement for trained stove makers and monitor the cash grants 10. Through Business Units (BUs), LCRC and MSN organize fairs between producers and traders for marketing of stoves and help stove traders with an incentive for stove procurement 11. MSN organize community mobilization and participatory selection for 10 individuals to train on sapling production 12. MSN provide technical trainings for sapling producer 13. LCRC provide marketing and business planning training for sapling producers 14. Though FSWG, LCRC and MSN select 35 villages for reforestation 15. In 35 selected villages, MSN organize community mobilization, community environmental workshops, and participatory selection location for saplings planting 16. MSN organize and supervise the plantation of saplings for forest extension in 35 villages 17. CEI for CSOs interested by capacity building in organizational development and SED 18. Training for 20 CSOs on Financial Resource Management, Human Resources Management, Strategic Leadership/Management, Quality Program Delivery Systems, External Relationships 19. CSO engage in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation of MSN-LCRC model projects 20. Trained CSOs and other interested CSOs submit proposal for replicating MSN-LCRC model projects 21. Launching ceremony for the opening of the LCRC Energy and Forestry Project 22. Training of Mercy Corps, LCRC and MSN Staff 23. Convene sustainable energy and community forestry stakeholder meetings to kick off the programme. 24. Baseline Energy Poverty Study (EPS) conducted. 25. Workshops on "Business model for fuel wood saving technologies and community forestry" conducted with FSWG partners and other stakeholders in Laputta and Yangon to define a business model (publication produced) 26. MSN select villages for stove making introduction and organize Community mobilization, community environmental workshops, and participatory selection of 20 individuals to train on green stove making 27. MSN provide technical trainings for stove makers 28. LCRC provide business planning training for stove makers 29. LCRC and MSN give cash grants for input procurement for trained stove makers and monitor the cash grants 30. Through Business Units (BUs), LCRC and MSN organize fairs between producers and traders for marketing of stoves and help stove traders with an incentive for stove procurement 31. MSN organize community mobilization and participatory selection for 10 individuals to train on sapling production 32. MSN provide technical trainings for sapling producer 33. LCRC provide marketing and business planning training for sapling producers 34. Though FSWG, LCRC and MSN select 35 villages for reforestation 35. In 35 selected villages, MSN organize community mobilization, community environmental workshops, and participatory selection location for saplings planting 36. MSN organize and supervise the plantation of saplings for forest extension in 35 villages 37. CEI for CSOs interested by capacity building in organizational development and SED

38. Training for 20 CSOs on Financial Resource Management, Human Resources Management, Strategic Leadership/Management, Quality Program Delivery Systems, External Relationships 39. CSO engage in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation of MSN-LCRC model projects 40. Trained CSOs and other interested CSOs submit proposal for replicating MSN-LCRC model projects 41. LCRC, Mercy Corps and MSN select 14 pilot projects 42. Cross visits are organized for 14 selected CSOs to visit similar projects sites 43. Workshop on energy poverty and social forestry organized by the FSWG in Yangon with relevant ministry to address policy 44. Document best practices of the project. We were able to document the following best practices. Best practices for the project includes:Firstly is the assigning of the most appropriate staff in this action as the Program Manager who has led and managed the action, having the capacity and ability to stimulate community-led driven and marketled sustainable resource management activities. This is in addition to the project officers who have the experience on community mobilization and background knowledge of business. Secondly the technical part of the FES was tested for the efficiency; the FES is a high quality product that makes 30%-50% fuel savings compared to traditional cooking practices. The FES maximizes the efficiency of the flame when cooking; the ventilation is also the right combination of oxidation and flames, which reduces the smoke emissions reducing ARI. Cash is saved, reducing household firewood expenditures from MMK 300 to MMK 150 per day. Thirdly, in partnership, networking & external relations the action had provided a platform allowing motivated community members to play an active role in civil society that is rare in the context of national governance and the local economy and infrastructure of the Ayeyarwady Delta. The CSOs became the key to achieving project targets, but more importantly they are the incubator for developing the next generation of civil leadership in the project area. Fourthly, in advocacy the CSO are able to reverse the top down approach to bottom up approaches in the project areas. Finally, the gender equality was taken in as one of the best practices for instances the Business Units and the Women groups in the VERP Villages were taken in the leading roles and making decisions on their plans.

4. Effectiveness/Evidence of Success
The action reduced energy poverty for approximately 58,800 people or 14,000 families in Laputta Township by improving their access to and the availability of fuel efficient stoves and saplings. In addition, an undefined number of people have benefited from reforestation activities that include the planting of 150,000 saplings in forest and mangrove areas. The Organisational Capacity Index (OCI) will be tested at the end of the project in October 2012. Outcome 1: An effective business model was developed to contribute to sustainable dissemination of technology and practices with positive outcomes for energy poverty reduction and local forestry. Sapling production is a necessary investment and represents a vital step toward environmental improvement with economic benefits. Dividends, wood production and secondary benefits including intercropped food commodities, and aquaculture development among mangrove, will pay off after the project ends and all stakeholders need to keep this as the sustainability of the project intervention. A Energy Poverty Study (EPS) was done; workshops organised with relevant stakeholders, built on the findings of the studies and defined standards for technologies and community mobilisation.

The business model was used to develop MSN-LCRC model projects and the 14 selected CSOs projects, enhancing the sustainability of their interventions to experiment the self-sustainable business model designed. Outcome 2: Production and conservation of village forest assets improved income-earning opportunities for vulnerable households. A total of4,000 households have FES stoves helping to reduce the burden on overused community forest areas and reserve area (including mangrove). Additionally, it has reduced the amount of time spent by women and children to collect wood, allowing them more time for more productive activities (income generating or education) and giving them increased household income for other purposes such as a diversified diet or livelihoods assets. Assets include small live stocks such as: chicken, ducks, piglets, small fishing nets and crab nets etc. Fuel efficient stoves also reduced smoke exposure and decrease respiratory illnesses. Lastly, according to our partners, fuel efficient stoves have been perceived by users in the dry zone as safer than the three stones traditional cooking place as it reduces fire risks. Relating to the sapling activity 150,000 saplings has been used for extension forest in communal land and for mangrove rehabilitation. A complementary community-led approach was implemented as part of the action reaching 55 villages having a population of around 5,500 households (23,100 people). In each village, environmental awareness was raised by SO and MSN, and a village Energy Poverty Reduction Plan (VERP) was also developed by forming Women Conservation Groups and Youth Conservation Groups. Outcome 3: Civil society organisations in Laputta Township improved capacity to plan and manage propoor SED projects and engaged in effective networking and policy advocacy. Twenty CSOs were trained in organisational development in the LCRC and these trainings led them to the submission of proposals to replicate the action of the MSN-LCRC model projects through grants of up to 6,750. SO used the Organisational Capacity Index to measure five organisational capacities of the 20 CSOs. The following five areas were emphasised: Financial Resource Management: Accountability, Operational Planning and Budgeting Human Resources Management: Personnel Management, Staff Development and Staff Participation Strategic Leadership/Management: Strategic Planning, Good Governance, Sustainability and Resource Mobilisation Quality Programme Delivery Systems: Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, Reporting, Organisational Learning External Relationships: Public Relations, Networking, Stakeholder Input (Participation) and Advocacy Building CSOs capacity through trainings and workshops focused on organisational development increasing their effectiveness in implementing projects. Additionally the training had led to increase the CSOs capacity with a total of 14 CSO out of the 20 CSOs trained currently replicating and implementing the action. The 14 CSOs now have started to have their organizational capacity indices (rules and regulations and guidelines). The CSOs developed their own proposals, implementing the project activities and participating in impact evaluation. The CSOs furthered their ability to plan and manage SED projects, while at the same time engaged in community-based experimentation and dissemination of SED practices. This civil society engagement and strengthening has built a path for replication and extension of action outcomes after the project ends. Outcome 4: Improved policy environment for self-sustainability of the business model and for CSO engagement in SED reducing poverty and deforestation. This strategy provided a context for CSOs to

play a vital role in participatory, pro-poor SED, preparing them for future endeavours. At the same time, this strategy, resulted in enhanced Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for communities that could be protected by more mangrove forests, decreased saline intrusion with mangrove protection around rice paddy embankments, and increased yields of fish, prawns and crab as mangrove forest health rebounds. Additionally increased resilience to future shocks expected as a result of global climate change and plus more access to social forest products which could help reduce the poverty of landless households.

5. Equitable Outcomes
Women normally are behind the scenes especially in the rural setting, through the project intervention women were involved in the Business Unit sand CSOs with positions ranging from Finance manager, CSO leaders and FES sales person. Environmental education and social mobilization activities targeting women/youth groups as local forest user groups (35 villages by SO, and 20 villages by 10 trained and funded CSOs). Dissemination of FES to 4,000 households has helped reduce the burden on overused community forest areas and reserve area (including mangrove). Additionally, it has reduced the amount of time spent by women and children to collect wood, allowing them more time for more productive activities (income generating or education) and giving them increased household income for other purposes such as a diversified diet or livelihoods assets. Fuel efficient stoves has also reduced smoke exposure and decreased respiratory illnesses2.

6. Efficiency/Cost-Effectiveness
Each FES producer has received 479,000 kyat ($479) to start the FES making business, with each producing up to 500 FES stoves at a selling cost of 1,500 kyat each ($2).Fresh water sapling producers received (150,000 Kyat) $150 to start the sapling producing business with the funds they could grow 10,000 saplings, which were sold for 100 kyat per sapling resulting in approximately $1000 in sales. The average profit is about 20-25% for both the sapling producers and the FES makers. The average sales of a FES makers is about 60 -70 FES and about 300-500 saplings per month

7. Sustainability
This action is designed to be fully sustainable as the action promotes: A civil society-led and market-driven approach as a self-sustainable model for the production and sales of fuel efficient stoves and social reforestation strategies; An effective business model that contributes to sustainable dissemination of FES technology and practices with positive outcomes for energy poverty reduction and local forestry. Baseline Energy Poverty Study enhanced the actions sustainability by establishing a knowledge base for lessons learned and best practices. The action contributed significantly to improve the civil society capacity to plan and manage pro-poor SED projects and engage in effective networking. At the end of the project the CSOs will access Organizational Capacity Index.

8. Challenges & Lessons Learned


In implementing the project we encounter the following challenges:Natural disaster constrains access to project location and beneficiaries. FES Marketing: - Transport in the Laputta Township is almost entirely water-borne.
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Mercy Corps Energy poverty study in Timor Leste, February 2009

Type of FES, the production time of FES and the nature of labor intensiveness FES Business Challenges: Stoves are a viable business and a dedicated Business Unit. Sapling Business Unit Self-sustaining economic model can be developed in the specific context of Myanmar with the emphasis on Civil Society and Market Networks for Pro-Poor Sustainable Environmental Development However we were able to overcome those challenges: like encouraging and providing additional supports, making more strong networks and coordination among the project actors, establishing market segments, demonstrations of the FES and conducting environmental awareness sessions. Please see the reference mentioned below for more details

9. Enabling Factors & Recommendations


The project staff with experience on community mobilization and background knowledge of business, were able to undertake various activities including:- the best practices on the stoves and a market survey to understand the demand of the households for FES stoves, affordability, accessibility (market) and the time (after harvest time) the households were willing to buy; a process of replication and expansion through strengthened civil society. This enabled the following: Sustainability: The action fosters sustainable environmental development as it is supporting the recovery of mangrove and other forest areas. This is resulting in improved food security and livelihoods security through increased fisheries yield. Through establishing viable household microenterprises for production of fuel efficient stoves and tree sapling nurseries. Market creation: 2 markets have been created (FES and Sapling) which are supporting the reductions in fuel wood use and encouraging tree planting as a medium and long-term livelihoods and social insurance scheme that has helped poverty reduction benefits for producers and consumers alike. Accessibility: 50% of the targeted area has access to new fuel wood saving stove which has allowed community households to reduce the amount of time they spend gathering fuel wood; and save 30-50% of wood used. Biodiversity & DRR: The community youth and women groups have also participated in the sapling planting activity which has led to mangrove reforestation to recover better, serving as a refuge for juvenile marine organisms, filtering sediment and enhancing resilience to future hazards by buffering coastlines against erosion and storm surges. Income generation: from 38 sapling producers has helped households achieve poverty reduction directly, and the dissemination of technology and knowledge to reduce energy poverty playing a role in overall poverty reduction. Recommendations The most encouraging aspect of the action is the development and fostering of the CSOs whose leadership has driven activities to achieve the above enabling factors.

10. Replicability/Adaptability
Using the project as a template our partner MSN has replicated the project in 2 different townships within the Delta region. CSO's have been trained and submitted proposals for replicating SO-LCRC model projects. Cross visits were organized for 14 selected CSOs to visit similar projects sites. The 14CSOs implemented and lead PME of 14 pilot projects replicating the LCRC model projects (publication produced, including IEC material recommending best practices) Publication produced, including IEC material recommending best practices)