§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment she has made of the value for money achieved by the Cross River State Community Forestry Project in Nigeria. 
§ Clare Short
The Department has been involved with Cross River communities, in the use and management of forest resources on a sustainable basis, at varying times over the last seven years. Implementation on the latest programme commenced in July 1999 and is due to complete in January 2003.
This project was last formally assessed during an Output-to-Purpose Review (OPR) in September 2001 in conjunction with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The review team observed significant achievements over the two-year period compared to the slow progress under military rule prior to 1999. Most notably, the conclusions from the OPR related to economy, efficiency and effectiveness highlighted the following:33 forest management committees (FMCs) have been established. Strong partnerships have developed between all stakeholders in a number of these and communities are organising themselves according to a common constitution to protect their rights and forest.Communities have shown more commitment to the sustainable management of their forest resources and to curbing illegal exploitation. This has been largely due to public awareness of the value and importance of sustainable forest management undertaken by the project.Communities are receiving a greater share of forest royalties more promptly while changes in forest laws promoted by the project. which will strengthen communities' rights over forests, are about to be submitted.Capacity of community based forest organisations and of the forestry commission staff have improved with training provided under the project.
An important component of the project worked on the institutional strengthening and capacity building of the Forest Commission (FC) to enable it to facilitate implementation of the forest sector strategy and action plan. The capacity of the state to play its role in joint management of forest resources is crucial to sustaining the productive capacity and biological resources and to ecological significance of the tropical high forest. Notable achievements here are:Technical assistance initiated by the project in 1999 has been significant in introducing genuine joint management of strategic forest resources.A new institutional change programme sponsored by the project is significantly assisting the process of institution reform and financial efficiency and accountability within the FC.548WA forest sector strategy and an action plan have been drafted under the project while a community forestry support unit has been established within the forest commission.Illegal logging and transport of timber have been reduced.A number of short-term (international and local) consultancies have provided valuable input into the project implementation eg the Non Timber Forest Products consultancy while the Legal Framework consultancy provided groundwork for the proposed changes in the laws.
Overall, the review team concluded that the project purpose was likely to be partially achieved, which is significant given the original risk assessment rated this project as medium to high risk, later amended to high risk. This achievement rating could be changed during the next review. CIDA have agreed to continue working with the forestry commission and the communities when DFID's input completes next year. DFID's withdrawal is solely linked to our stated strategy to focus on a limited number of reforming states (four). These states are in the south-west, south-east, north and middle belt. Cross River state is in the south geo-political zone.