CHITRAL: Mountain Society for Research & Development Chitral organized experience sharing workshop to wind up its project, “Community-Based Forest Conservation through Small-Scale Energy Solution” with support of USAID’s Ambassador’s Fund Grant Program (AFGP) in Chitral.
Executive Director, MSRD, Ahmad welcomed the participants and talked about the objectives of the workshop highlighting its importance in sharing success stories, issues and challenges that help in setting such other project in future. The workshop would help built on our successes, failures and learnings if similar projects are planned, he said.
Mr. Ahmad talked about the objectives, achievements and outcomes the project in length, and requested the beneficiary participants to further elaborate on outcomes if they had experienced any. He said that the major objective was to conserve the local forest resources through making and using bio briquettes as alternative to fuelwood, which is consumed in thousands of tons every years cutting the the local forest. Though they needed to go far to look for impacts, people interest in the bio briquette technology and ownership of the project indicate high achievement of project objectives, he asserted. Alternative energy groups were formed to mobilize the community and ensure future sustainability of the project, still mobilization remained a big challenge due long developed NGO culture of feeding the local activists in cash to motivate them to participate workshops and other project activities, he explored. Remoteness of the project area and hard access also posed challenges to supervise the project on day to day basis, he said.
Eng. Irshad Rabbani, Project SM MSRD, highlighted Challenges and Issues in Project Design and Implementation in the field. He further elaborated on the ways that such challenges could be avoided in future project. He said that major project activities of providing the bio briquette tool and training the beneficiaries in briquette making were set to the end of the project, which resulted low enthusiasm among the beneficiaries and posed challenge to see the project results by the end of the project period. He also talked about issues in project sustainability, and how the issues could be tackled to sustain the project. He said that when the project major activities were carried out local people were too much busy with their farming activities, and they could not get time to meet for their monthly meetings. However, the AEGs having great sense of membership, and have the potential to continue informal meeting to sustain the project interventions.
The project Beneficiaries, a man and women, were invited to talk about their experiences of the project including implementation and the benefits they see in continuing with the project interventions. They said that it was completely new idea for them, and they did not believe in the beginning that dead leaves could be used as household fuel by making briquette. The first experience of making briquette and using it for cooking was a big exploration for them, the shared. Several AEG members have attempted to make briquette for themselves, they said.
Guest of Honor, Mr. Umair Nawaz, SDFO Forest, District Chitral, expressed his appreciation of the project, and said that it will take Chitral far in conserving the local forests and solving household fuel issue if the project interventions are continued to be practiced and other such project implemented.
The workshop was attended by 45 participants including project beneficiaries, government officials and NGO professionals.