Central African Republic
Partner: Centre pour l’Information Environnementale et le Développement (CIEDD)
Domain: Diagnosis of the implementation of the Independent Monitoring Mandate in CAR
In the Central African Republic, the armed conflict brought its own set of unique challenges for IM. Although civil society led IM was provided for in the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) texts, IM practice was still in its infancy in this post-conflict context and characterised by relatively ‘immature’ civil society. Years of conflict and lack of resources resulted in a total lack of forest control by the Administration.
Where IM was immature it has grown and become effective
Mandated independent forest monitoring (IM) in the Central African Republic (CAR) had been implemented for 3 years, but with very few concrete results. Despite the completion of 5 missions in partnership with teams from the administration, no sanctions were imposed on timber operators on the basis of the observations. The CV4C project, while continuing to carry out fact-finding missions, has made it possible to examine the reasons for this impact deficit and analyses have been carried out. It emerged that there was confusion about the approach among both civil society and the forest administration. Whilst civil society thought it was accompanying the administration, the administration was convinced that it was supporting civil society in carrying out the tasks conferred on it by the VPA. Therefore, it was necessary to harmonise each party’s understanding of their roles.
What have been the main successes and the factors behind them?
The identification of the problems inherent to IM implementation was the result of a collaboration between CIEDD, the forest administration and other civil society actors. Regional CV4C partner FLAG provided technical support, which has been an important factor in assisting the implementation of an internal quality control process for the online posting of reports produced, which are posted on the Open Timber Portal. This has made it possible to identify persistent weaknesses and has led to the development of mission operating procedures.
What were the challenges (or failures)?
In order to put IM back on track, the forest administration needs to take leadership and demonstrate its commitment to the forest management control actions. Such a change should be reflected in the composition of the monitoring teams, which must include the skills needed to carry out the mission properly. Additionally, the administrations need to begin to take legal actions based on mission findings. CIEDD should be able to prepare materials with a more inclusive approach from the initial stages of the mission. In addition, CIEDD must ensure that operational procedures are applied at each stage of the mission, which calls for greater rigour and professionalism in the conduct of the IM.
What are the main lessons learned?
The reorientation of IM implementation in CAR has made it possible to define more clearly the roles of the various stakeholders (civil society, the forest administration and other services, the private sector and development partners). The elaboration of operational procedures has enabled CIEDD to have a reference system to ensure the quality of the preparation and implementation of field missions as well as for efficient monitoring of logging activities.