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KamalPokhari and KaramDev CFUGs celebrated their successes:

Sketch agreed by both parties on 31 Dec 2015

Five years ago, the District Forest Office (DFO) in Kailalihanded over Kamal Pokhari CFUG and KaramDev CFUG to their respective communities. Those CFUGs realized that they had16 hectares of forest land overlapping on their maps a month and a half after the handover. Both CFUGs individually approached the DFO, the Federation of Community Forestry Users (FECOFUN) and the Community Forest Coordination Community (CFCC) for many yearsto settle their conflict, but without any resolution, which increasingly deteriorated the relationship between the neighboring communities. This also delayed their normal operations, including the Kamal Pokhari CFUG Operational Plan renewal process for ten months, resulting in the loss of regular support from the DFO and other agencies during that time. Because of this type of conflict, IRMI selected KamalPokahri CFUG as a target community in January 2014. IRMI then conducted several activities, including identification and training to key stakeholders to facilitate the conflict more effectively. During the training, the key stakeholders prepared an action plan to mitigate their conflict. In April 2014, they started to intervene in the conflict in consultation with both communities and other concerned stakeholders. According to the plan, they commenced the process by carrying out a detailed conflict mapping exercise, followed by detailed action plan preparation by the key stakeholders and the implementation of said action plan. Several facilitation sessions were conducted, which included formal/informal separate/joint meetings, and dialogue and negotiation sessions. Among them, a joint meeting among all the conflicting parties and VDC level stakeholders in Hasulia VDC office decided to conclude the case formally in the presence of the District Forest Officer (DFO). According to the decisions, a dialogue session was organized in the District Forest Office in Kailalion 31 December2015, with the direct involvement of IRMI-trained key stakeholders, the DFO, Assistance Forest Officer (AFO), representatives from the CFUGs, an advocate, and program partner BASE. At the end of the day, both the conflicting parties were able to find solutions and signed a resolution agreement. Both the CFUGs agreed on the division of the 16 hectares of overlapping land. According to the agreement reached, Kamal Pokhari CFUG will get 11.5 hectares and the remaining 5.5 hectares will go to the KaramDev CFUG, which is detailed in a sketch they prepared to separate land in the meeting. To implement the agreement reached, both CFUGs agreed to jointly erect demarcation lines/pillars to mark the borders on 9 January 2016.

Final sketch agreed on 9 Feb 2016

According to the agreement, representatives from two related Area Forest Offices and both CFUGs collected and conducted a GPS survey to separate forest land together. Finally, based on the survey, a more formal sketch was prepared and agreed to by all participants. They also decided to assemble again after several days to demarcate the land jointly. However, when the time came to demarcate the land, the KaramDev CFUG refused to implement the process, despite their previous agreement. Again, the key stakeholders continued with the dialogue sessions among both the communities. The main point of dissatisfaction was the limited space allocated to them around the KaramDev temple area, although they did agree with the total forest land area they would be getting, i.e., 5.5 hectares. As this particular area of agreement came to their notice in a dialogue session, the key stakeholders facilitated accordingly. Finally, in a session facilitated by key stakeholders on 9 February 2016, both parties agreed to allocate enough land around the KaramDev temple. Again, the GPS survey was conducted to redraw the forest land boundaries appropriately and delineate the results on the ground. At the same time, the CFUGs representatives, in the presence of key stakeholders and AFO representatives, happily agreed to install pillars and jointly prepare a fire line along the border.

Pillar installation and fire line preparation jointly

On 29 Feb 2016, all the CFUG members from both communities gathered around the area where they planned to clear the boundary line. First, they marked the entire disputed land on the ground jointly as per the agreement to separate their overlapping land and installed cement pillars, so that there would be no confusion, and thus also no conflict.

Both communities celebrating their success

At the same time, they together prepared a one kilometer fire line five meters wide to protect their forests from forest fire. After they finished the work, both the communities organized a joint feast and a Tharu cultural program to build back the degraded relationship and share the message of reconciliation to their wider communities. The event was marked by a feast of local food and a Tharu cultural dance. Participants offered tika (marks on the forehead with brightly colored powder, which is a Nepali cultural act of respect and celebration) and garlands to each other as a symbol of coming back together. Hundreds of people from both communities, including children, women, youths and elderly people, including VDC level stakeholders, joined in on the celebration. On the occasion, Mr. Ramsharan Chaudhary, former president of KaramDev CFUG said, "Our continuous efforts are able to build consensus among us. Therefore, this has bridged the gap between the users of KamalPokhariand our CFUG, and will remain forever."

Inclusive Resource Management Initiative (IRMI) project is funded by USAID

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