Features & Commentary
Tanzania Conducts Comprehensive REDD+ Capacity Needs Assessment
The UN-REDD National Programme in Tanzania recently finalized a capacity needs assessment that reveals key challenges and opportunities for REDD+ readiness in Tanzania.
By: Ralf Ernst
The Government of Tanzania, through the UN-REDD National Programme and in cooperation with UNDP, recently conducted a Capacity Needs Assessment (CNA) of government institutions for REDD+ at Central, Regional, District and Local levels in Tanzania. A key finding of Tanzania’s CNA is that most awareness and discourse on REDD+ exists at the national level, while there is limited knowledge and technical skills at the district and village level which is the core sphere of REDD+ implementation.
At the district level, the CNA found that there are functional challenges particularly in planning and data monitoring that already hinder the widespread implementation of other policy frameworks that support sustainable land management such as Participatory Forest Management (PFM) and Participatory Land Use Management (PLUM). "Given that REDD+ in Tanzania will build on the existing structures for PFM and PLUM, these capacity challenges will also be limiting for REDD+ implementation," said Karen Edwards, senior consultant of LTS International and the leader of the CNA team. At the village level, there are clear capacity gaps in relation to governance and villages’ power for enforcing their own rights. However, the establishment of a national REDD+ mechanism provides opportunities to address these weaknesses, initiate necessary reforms and, thus, strengthen villages and communities.
The CNA proposes a five-year capacity development plan for the years 2012-2017 and a range of measures to develop REDD+ capacity at the central, district and local levels, that allow for short-term gains as well as long-term strategic objectives to be achieved. Some key principles that influenced the design of these packages are:
- Mobilizing existing capacity where possible;
- Increasing diversity of interventions to include some training but also dialogue mechanisms, leadership programs, institutional incentives;
- Minimizing one-off training interventions and building in coaching and follow-up activities;
- Offering development and training opportunities for the best suited and most motivated participants;
- Integrating capacity with clear strategic roll out of REDD+ alongside other natural resource and land management policies and programs;
- Continuing to gather and synthesize lessons from the field in Tanzania and elsewhere.
At the central level, the Capacity Needs Assessment (CNA) reached out to all the institutions that are represented in Tanzania’s National REDD+ Task Force. In addition, the CNA team visited seven selected districts to assess capacities at district and local levels, and identify additional capacity development needs.
Through a participatory process, the institutional analysis was conducted and a capacity assessment framework established. Karen Edwards explains that, "While many aspects of the future REDD+ scheme are still uncertain and assumptions had to be made, this process allowed participants to identify what tasks will in future be performed at what level of the administration and what skills and other capacities will be required.”
The CNA adapted the UNDP framework for capacity assessment, which uses a multi-dimensional approach and provides the scope to assess institutional incentives, leadership issues, accountability and dialogue processes. Knowledge and technical skills, often the only focus of capacity assessments, were only two aspects of this comprehensive assessment. Core focal issues were based on a participatory analysis of the current bottlenecks for REDD+ in Tanzania as identified by the stakeholders. It was these core issues that became the focus of the assessment.
It is recognized that capacity building is essential for the development of a national REDD+ scheme, but work is still needed to identity who needs to be trained on what, and what else is needed to build the necessary capacity for REDD+. Answers to these questions are essential for the success of REDD+ and with that in mind the Government of Tanzania conducted the CNA.
The UN-REDD Programme has already provided training and capacity development services for REDD+ over the past two years in Tanzania, for example on MRV and the development of social and environmental safeguards for REDD+. Remaining resources for capacity development have now been tailored in line with recommendations of the CNA. Previous capacity development services included, for example, training of trainers for forestry extension teams which consist of staff members from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, local government authorities and other relevant institutions. Participants in the training will now receive additional support so they can implement priority activities in their regions that were identified during the training of trainers sessions.
In addition, the UN agencies that work together under the UN-REDD Programme in Tanzania (FAO, UNDP and UNEP) will discuss the capacity development plan with relevant government institutions and with development partners to facilitate all additional support needed for Tanzania’s efforts to develop a fully functional REDD+ mechanism.
Ralf Ernst is the international UN-REDD Programme Coordinator in Tanzania.