KOICA-funded CRFLR Program Familiarization Workshop Organized for Sidama Region, Ethiopia

February 24, 2022 –  GGGI Ethiopia organized a half-day regional familiarization workshop of the Climate Resilient Forest and Landscape Restoration (CRFLR) program for the Sidama region at Rori International Hotel, Hawassa town. The workshop was organized in association with the Sidama Regional State’s Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (EFCC) Authority on February 24, 2022. Over 40 participants drawn from pertinent federal government offices, relevant regional sector offices (including EFCCA, bureaus of Agriculture, Women and Social Affairs, Finance, Water and Energy, Women and Social Affairs), Wondo-Genet College of Forestry and natural Resources (WGCFNR), proposed woreda administrators and other invited guests attended the workshop. The five-year CRFLR program is fully funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The underlying objective of the workshop was thus to familiarize the CRFLR program in the Sidama region and to bring onboard all the relevant stakeholders to discuss on the project modalities and implementation strategies, as well as to  serve as a platform to table the proposed members of Regional Steering committee (RSC) of the program for discussion and validation.  The workshop was also aimed at creating opportunities to build common understanding and consensus on the proposed selected woredas of interventions.

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Gemedo Dalle, GGGI Country Representative, noted that GGGI has been supporting the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) since the inception of the Climate Resilient Green Economy ( CRGE) strategy in which significant achievements were registered. He added that protection of forest resources and landscape  is one of the strategic pillars of CRGE and Ethiopia’s perspective development plans for the period 2021-2030.

He expressed his strong conviction that the KOICA-funded CRFLR program will add significant value to the initiatives being  taken by the region to rehabilitate the degraded  forests and landscape in the project intervention woredas.

The workshop was officially opened by H.E Mr. Kebede Yimam, who was guest of honor and Deputy Commissioner of the then Forest, Climate Change Commission (FCCC). He remarked  that  the CRGE provides due focus to the forestry sector, for it is contributing to 50% of the 68.8 % Green House Gas (GHG) emission reduction target by 2030, as set out in the Nationally Determined Commitments (NDC).

He, however said, deforestation has remained to be a deep-seated challenge, and the country’s forestry resource is being depleted at an alarming rate, which he said needs an all-out and urgent action to reverse the worrying situation.  He added that projects like CRFLR can help bridge the gaps of the Government, which is  geared towards achieving a sustainable green growth economy.  The Deputy Commissioner called on regional authorities to capitalize on the ample opportunities that will be created by the project to the optimal level.

In the course of the workshop, Dr. Gemedo Dalle, made presentation under the theme “The Ethiopia Climate Resilient Forest and Landscape Rehabilitation Program”: Implementation and Roadmap.

He provided highlights on an overview of the CRFLR program, expected outputs, implementation modalities and responsibilities of implementing partners (IPs) in the Sidama region.

Dr. Gemedo noted that under the CRFL initiative, there is a  Regional Steering Committee (RSC) that will be responsible for an overall oversight, and provision of strategic guidance for the program’s implementation in the region.

He also noted that the National Steering Committee (NSC) formed  at federal level will be backstopping the seamless operation of the project in the regions, and also ensure its compliance with the forest sector’s contribution to GHG emission reduction target of the country. He added it  further  ensures conformity with National REDD+ strategy and other socio-economic development goals of the country.

Dr. Gemedo underlined that the success of the CRFLR program will be measured in terms of its real  impacts and changes on the socio-economy aspects of the target communities and its rippling effect to contribute to the  wider socio-economic transformation of the country at large.

Following Dr Gemedo’s Presentation, the “Draft Annual Work plan and Terms of Reference for the Steering Committee” was presented by Mr. Abraham W/Michael, Senior Program Officer at  GGGI-Ethiopia.

Mr. Abraham  provided detailed explanations on the objectives for establishing Steering Committee, their roles and the  proposed members of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC). The RSC members  include the EFCCA, Bureau of Agriculture,  Bureau of Finance and Economic Development, Bureau of Water, Mine and Energy, Bureau of Planning and Development, Bureau of Women and social affairs, and one non-state actor working on similar intervention.  He further described the roles and responsibilities of Woreda Steering and Technical Committee and implementation modalities of CRFLR program at the community level.

Another  presentation on “Districts Selection” was delivered by Mr. Daniel Dumero, a Forestry Expert at the Sidama Region Environment, Forest and Climate Change Authority.

Mr. Daniel provided highlights of the forestry sector in the  Sidama regional context, the criteria for woreda selection of the CRFLR program  and list of selected woredas,  project summary,  and  description of areas on an illustrative basis.

He unveiled the proposed selected list of woredas (districts)  in the region which included, (i)  Wondo Genet  woreda, which is  bordering  with  Wondo and shashamane  at Oromia region;  (ii) Melga woreda, which is bordering with  Kokosa at Oromia region;  (iii) Arbegona woreda, which is  bordering with  Kokosa at Oromiya region, and (iv)  Chire woreda, which is bordering  with  Nansaboo at Oromia region.

As to Mr. Daniel, the overriding criteria for selecting the woredas are attributed to the bordering of the Woreda with  Oromia region, suitability of agro-ecology for high seedling  survival and  vegetation, kebele’s which have communal  land  that is  suitable  for climate resilient forest and landscape rehabilitation program through Afforestation/ Reforestation (AR), Assisted Natural Regeneration /ANR/  and wood lot program as a common asset.

Following was the discussion session facilitated by H.E. Mr Kebede Yimam,  Dr. Gemedo Dalle, and Mr. Shitaye Yumera, who is Head of Sidama region’s EFCC Authority.  Accordingly, some of the major concerns and issues flagged up by the participants included, among others:

  • The extent to which the CRFLR program helps ensure the proactive engagements of youth and women in environmental protection, water and soil conservation activities;
  • The level of actions to be taken to help ensure the socio-economic benefits of youth, women  and other vulnerable group (VGs) of the community  in the implementation woredas;
  • The rate of contribution of the Program to help curb the pressing problem of Seedling Sites in the region;
  • The potential of generating income for the community through carbon-trading if the forest and landscapes are restored in the implementation woredas;
  • The level of response by the Program in mitigating the overwhelming challenges of the region associated with drying wetlands and shortage of potable water;
  • Issues in relation to landholding rights and tenure security of communal lands;
  • Need for integrating the Livestock Bureau, , Cooperatives Promotion Agency , as well as  Watershed Users’ Association  and  the Elderly Committee into the RSC;
  • Possibility of inclusion of safety net program woredas under the CRFLR program.

Dr. Gemedo Dalle, as well as the head and experts of the regional EFCCA responded and made clarifications to the questions and concerns raised by the participants. Some of the comments were noted and will be considered in the project implementation process.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Shitaye Yumera  noted that the CRLFR Program will help to create an ample  opportunity to address the debilitating  impacts  of deforestation and the declining forest base in the region.

Mr. Shitaye expressed his Office’s readiness to make the program most successful through enhanced collaboration and creation of synergies from the regional to kebele levels.

While appreciating the active participation and concerns of the participants, Dr. Gemedo Dalle on his part stressed the need for the proactive engagement of woreda administration leaders  and deliver their utter pledges through helping implement the Program  on the ground.  He noted that at the moment, the project will be implemented in only two Woredas in Sidama Region. He; however said, if the project happens to be most  successful and worth replicating, there is a possibility of adding woredas on a value-for-money basis.

Dr. Gemedo pointed out that  though the Program  promotes economic  and financial value, it  doesn’t provide carbon trading directly, as  the ultimate purpose of the Program  is to restore forests and degraded landscapes.

He reiterated that the Program is working on the established communal plots of land, building on what has  already been done, adding that the Program will attach  a paramount importance  on system-building,  as Sidama is a newly emerging region.

Dr. Gemedo finally made a proposal  that  Wondo Genet and Arbegona woredas be selected for CRFLR interventions  in the Sidama region, as they adequately fulfill the required criteria.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Kebede Yemam stated that the CRFLR program needs a strong leadership and collaboration at all levels, for the proactive engagement of the stakeholders is essential for the  successful implementation of same.

He made the point that  donors are particularly interested in result and impacts of the project, and wants to establish the fact that a given  project is able to bring about the desirable change. He warned that  “If this CRFLR program fails, it will definitely jeopardize  the possibilities of  leveraging  resources for the other forthcoming projects.”

Mr. Kebede  also underscored the need for the professional  experts engagement  in the Program to be guided by evidence-based scientific knowledge,  as well as to  establish a viable Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system to track and monitor  the achieved results of the Program on the basis of   international standards.  He also underlined the need for guarantying the landholding right and tenure security through certifying the communal lands on a legal avenue.

The Deputy Commissioner further mentioned the importance of  working on a collaborative way, as the forest sector by  its nature  demands a multi-sectoral engagement and response in a bid to make the successful completion of a given project.

In relation to commercialization of carbon,  Mr. kebede   made the point  clear that  carbon trading is an additional and  supplementary  issue, and we are dealing with forest simply because  our survival  is heavily  hinged on conservation of natural forests.

He; however said,  “While doing this, we can explore the potential of the global carbon market and see the possibilities of gaining benefits out of it.”

Finally, the Deputy commissioner expressed the commitment of the federal government to provide the necessary  support in making the CRFLR program  a tangible reality in the Sidama region.