Stakeholders Affirm LI-BIRD an 'Exception' in Organizational Governance: Major Highlights of the Organizational Social Audit 2015


Posted on: 9/30/2015

By: Keshab Thapa, Mahesh Shrestha and Bibudh Dhewaju, LI-BIRD

LI-BIRD organized ‘Organizational Social Audit’ on the occasion of its 21st Annual General Meeting 2015 in Pokhara, Kaski.

201 participants attended the Social Audit, representing 9 development partners, 13 government departments, 3 private sector, 11 media, 8 implementing partner organizations, 17 farmers, 16 general members, 2 founder members, 6 board members, 106 LI-BIRD staff members and 10 other invitees. Among them 141 were male and 60 were female participants.

Mr. Sharad Prasad Neupane, Social Audit Facilitator facilitated the Social Audit 2014/15. The programme was inaugurated by the Chief District Administrator of District Administrative Office, Mr. Krishna Bahadur Rawat by planting a seed using a Jab Planter.

During the social audit, the facilitator set some norms, guided by the ‘Local Body Social Audit Procedure-2067’, for the participants of the event and executive members of the organization. The social audit included (i) LI-BIRD's responses to the recommendations of the ‘Social Audit 2013/14’ (Nepali FY 2070/71); (ii) organizational governance; (iii) programme development update and future strategy; (iv) programme operations and achievements; and (v) impact stories of the year.

During the social audit, LI-BIRD received diverse feedbacks from the participants, which are presented below.

Expanding research and development on Agroforestry, Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs), watershed management, and Management of Chure Area

Participants suggested LI-BIRD to do research on agroforestry systems, high value NTFPs, and resources management of Churia area of Nepal. Ms. Suchita Shrestha representing the development partner organizations suggested, "As the agricultural system productivity is also influenced by forestry, LI-BIRD's upcoming research and development strategy should prioritize research on agroforestry and its sustainable management."  Similarly, on behalf of the partner organization representatives, Mr. Brahma Dhoj Gurung emphasized, "LI-BIRD should use its research expertise in doing research on sustainable management of NTFPs, and Churia area of Nepal.” The representative from private sector, Mr. Laxmi Prasad Tripathi, Chairperson of Lekhnath Chamber of Commerce and Industries drew attention of LI-BIRD and other stakeholder to jointly work on empowering local institutions to reduce siltation in Rupa and Begnas Lake, and manage water hyacinth.

Suchita Shrestha participating in question-answer session 

2015-16: The Year of Implementation for LI-BIRD

"In the backdrop of LI-BIRD's active role in community biodiversity management, LI-BIRD should reflect the impact of its programmes in terms of number of households with improved livelihoods," suggests Kalidas Subedi, Chairperson of Federation of Community Forestry Users Network (FECOFUN), Kaski. Responding to this suggestion, Dr. Balaram Thapa, Executive Director of LI-BIRD committed, "Impact level of reporting of LI-BIRD's interventions are an important discussion in LI-BIRD. LI-BIRD accepts that we have yet to look at the impact of our portfolio. For this, we are, at first, focusing on better implementation of our programmes and projects." Highlighting the importance of implementation to generate impact, Dr. Thapa announced, "The year 2015/16 will be LI-BIRD's year of implementation, during which we will strengthen our implementation to our fullest. With this we will focus on impact level reporting in the succeeding years."   

Dr. Balaram Thapa responding to question-answer session 

Capacity Strengthening of Implementing Partner Organizations essential for successful implementation of LI-BIRD’s portfolio

Implementing partner organizations are playing an important role in implementing LI-BIRD's growing portfolio. Ms. Yamuna Ghale, Senior Programme Officer of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) suggested, "LI-BIRD should strategize its programmes and projects through Local Implementing Partner Organizations (LIPOs)." Furthermore, the representatives from implementing partner organizations suggested LI-BIRD to plan activities related to strengthening capacity of the partner organizations as well. They also suggested including ‘Public Hearing and Social Audit’ as one of the major activities in each project. Representative of the implementing partner organizations, Mr. Brahma Dhoj Gurung, Chief Executive Officer of Rupantaran Nepal suggested, "LI-BIRD should regularly organize activities for building capacity of partner organizations in their technical and organizational management areas."

Brahma Dhoj Gurung providing his feedback to LI-BIRD 

LI-BIRD as an Exception in Strengthening Organizational Governance

The media representatives appreciated LI-BIRD's approaches of biodiversity management in which agriculture is linked with culture and tradition, and communities and their institutions are strengthened. Mr. Basu Dev Mishra, representative of the media participants underlined, "Unlike many NGOs which are struggling to strengthen their organizational governance, LI-BIRD is an exception." In addition, Mr. Mishra highlighted that LI-BIRD should continue its engagement in the communities for longer term that will bring changes in livelihoods of farmers rather than implementing short term projects. 

LI-BIRD improving farmers' access to agricultural technologies

Farmers' representative, Mr. Hare Ram Khatiwada from Jogimara VDC of Dhading appreciated LI-BIRD's efforts in promoting value addition of finger millets by introducing planting, intercultural, and processing technologies such as millet thresher that have reduced workload of women. He underscored that “LI-BIRD's intervention on terrace farming and sustainable agriculture such as legumes integration, promotion of yam, mulching and jab planter for minimizing land tilling are addressing the local problems and needs.” Besides, in order to improve interaction of farmers with the government service providers, the farmers group suggested LI-BIRD to invite representatives from District Agriculture Development Offices (DADOs) and District Development Committees (DDCs) of the project districts in the upcoming social audit programmes.  

Hari Ram Khatiwada acknowledging LI-BIRD's contribution 

Government is supportive for NGOs' initiatives in research and development

Representatives from Government of Nepal (GoN) implied LI-BIRD to implement the researches and development initiatives in line with the national policies and plans such as Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS). With commitment of the International Trade Section of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), Mr. Pradhumna Pandey, Chair of the International Trade Section advised, "LI-BIRD should prioritize institutionalization of local knowledge of farming and integrate science in it through proper documentation and patent right."

GoN is facilitating for providing an enabling environment for NGOs in Nepal. However, the policies and acts of GoN related to NGOs operation need revision in the changing political and socioeconomic context of the country. "GoN has realized that the policies should be revised. Accordingly, GoN has started to revise some the policies related to the operation of NGOs in Nepal," shared Mr. Bharat Sharma, Director of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. Appreciating the reduction of management cost of LI-BIRD over the last 3 years, Mr. Sharma asked LI-BIRD to at least maintain the ratio of programme and management cost as 80:20, the limit GoN has set. 

Youth engagement prioritization for LI-BIRD's Research and Development

Representatives from media and youth organizations suggested LI-BIRD to prioritize youth's engagement in agriculture, forestry, and environmental management. Mr. Madan Paudel, representative from Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) emphasized, "LI-BIRD should design and implement youth focused programmes by mentoring them and involving them in volunteering activities. LI-BIRD should reveal youth mobilization in its upcoming strategy." Similarly, Mr. Basu Dev Misra, media representative requested LI-BIRD to explore how youths should be engaged in agricultural development in Nepal.

Madan Paudel emphasizing the role of youth in research and development 

Finally

Speaking in the closing session of the social audit, guests representing various organizations and agencies appreciated LI-BIRD's responses to improve organizational governance, besides LI-BIRD's technical expertise in agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change.