CFUGs give a leg up to backward communities

- DURGA LAL KC, Dang
CFUGs give a leg up to backward communities

Nov 22, 2014-

The earnings from community forests in the district have proved substantial in helping uplift the lifestyle of locals, especially those who belong to financially backward communities.

“The forests conserved by the locals have become a medium for sustenance, helping ease the lives of locals,” said Shobhakar Sapkota, Chairperson of Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN).  The forests under the care of locals have become a medium for them to earn a decent income. In order to develop their hometown and use the forest as a means of sustenance, some 462 community forests have set up a revolving fund, which helps the needy to address their financial problems.

The locals have been taking loans at a minimal interest rate (ranging from two to eight percent). Likewise, all community forest users committees (CFUGs) have been saving 35 percent of their earnings in a trust fund dedicated to invest in activities meant to extend help and support to the economically deprived.

“The consumers setting up shop using the loans from the fund have been making Rs 9,000-32,000 per month,” Sapkota said. The initiative has helped Dalit, marginalised communities as well as financially unstable households to make a decent living. Furthermore, others who have taken loans from the fund are engaged in various businesses, including livestock farming, agriculture, poultry farming and bee farming and tailoring, among others.

According to Sapkota, some 93 community forests had helped install solar panels in 1,264 houses in the hilly VDCs. Likewise, all 507 community forests had provided loans at eight percent interest rate to two individuals from backward communities migrating abroad for work.

The forests have also provided employment in the form of forest guards to 650 people from backward communities. Some of the consumers have been operating wood and furniture industry.

Likewise, 12 community forests in Kulpani, Gobardiha have also set up a furniture industry which in turn has provided employment for the financially deprived households in the area.

Stating that altogether 156 school buildings have been constructed with assistance from the forests, field officer Bhup Bahadur KC of FECOFUN stated that earnings from the forests have been used to procure essential educational materials, infrastructure and pay salary to the teachers. The Malai Jaljala community forest at Panchakule-9 has also been helping pay salary to 10 teachers at a local school.

According to FECOFUN, community forests have been providing salary to some 222 teachers at various schools in the district. The trend of using community forests to uplift the lifestyle of the local community had started after the introduction of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Sapkota said.  

The District Forest Office has also been assisting them in their initiative, said assistant forest officer Gokul Chaudhary. Chaudhary said that altogether 93,210 households were dependent on the incomes generated from the forests at present and the DFO intends to also direct community forests to allocate budget meant for upliftment of the backward communities.

Published: 23-11-2014 09:35

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