Communication for empowerment and participatory development: a community engagement strategy in forest carbon trade in lower Zambezi a case of bio-carbon partners
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This study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the communication strategy employed by Bio-Carbon Partners Limited in engaging local people in REDD+ Project in Rufunsa District. The project is aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), while on the other hand providing social and economic benefits to local people around Rufunsa Conservancy Area. The objectives of the study were; to find out the communication strategies used by BCP to engage communities in coming on board in making decisions about REDD+ project; to examine the language used by BCP in engaging communities into REDD+ project; to evaluate the effectiveness of communication strategies used by BCP in mobilising communities to participate in forest carbon trade; to find out the extent to which the communication strategies used by BCP empower the communities with negotiation skills in REDD+ project. The study employed non-experimental exploratory design in order to evaluate how communication strategies used by BCP motivate communities to participate in REDD+ project. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used; primary and secondary data collection methods were employed as well in this research. The sample size was 106 which is divided in two, 100 were local people subjected to structured questionnaires and 6 were key informants subjected to in-depth interviews. The sampling methods were purposive sampling for the selection of Zones to participate in the study and then simple random sampling for the selection of villages from the two Zones to participate in the study. Simple random sampling was also used to select the participants for quantitative research and expert sampling for the selection of key informants. Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences whereas qualitative data was analysed by thematic analysis method. Thereafter, the data was presented in form of figures and tables. The study revealed that community meetings were a highly used communication strategy by BCP in engaging local people to participate in REDD+ Project. It also revealed that the communication strategies used by BCP are effective in mobilising local people to participate in decision making about REDD+ Project. It was further found that the majority of the respondents said that BCP’s communication strategy inform them about project ownership. This research concludes that participatory communication is effective in mobilising local people to engage in forest carbon trade, participate in decision making and foster the spirit of project ownership. The researcher has recommended that since community meetings were a highly used communication strategy, sometimes they could be an impediment to apprehensive people to fully participate in decision making at a public meeting; therefore other means of communication should be used such as interpersonal communication to counter this shortcoming.
The University of Zambia