Forests and water are important natural resources for rural livelihoods and increasingly important for the recreation demand of a rapidly urbanizing society in Manipur. Watersheds provide a multitude of ecosystem services for upstream and downstream people in Manipur. Forests deliver a multitude of timber and non-timber products (NTFPs) and are rich in animal and plant species. Headwaters are key for rural and urban water security. However, forested watersheds continue to be degraded, and water scarcity is experienced more often due to limited management options and biotic, anthropogenic and climatic factors. This will increase the vulnerability of forest, aquatic ecosystems and rural populations unless adaptive measures are taken. Climate Change models have stressed the need for anticipatory and proactive adaptation strategies and policies to maintain the multiple functions of forest ecosystems.
It is against this background that the project ‘Community-based Sustainable Forest Management for Water Resources Conservation in Manipur’ was designed as a development project of the Government of India (GoI) supported by the Federal Government of Germany through KfW (German Development Bank) within the context of the Indo-German Program on Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalaya. The project is implemented by the Manipur Forest Department (MFD, the Project Executing Agency) and managed by the Community Forestry and Water Conservation Society-Manipur (CF&WCS-M) that acts as Project Management Unit (PMU).
The first phase of the project is designed for 7 years from 1 September 2018 to 31 August 2025; the overall project costs are estimated at EUR 36.7 million, of which the contribution from German Financial Cooperation will be up to EUR 15 million in loan phase I and EUR 0.9 million grant, with the possibility of up to an additional EUR 13 million in loan phase II to 2029, with additional contributions by the Government of India up to EUR 9.8 million for both phase I and II.
Technical Consultancy services are provided by GFA Consulting Group GmbH (Germany) in close collaboration with UNIQUE forestry and land use GmbH (Germany) and IORA Ecological Solutions (India). The overall objective of the technical assistance is to support the MFD, especially the Project Management Units at state and district levels, as well as other relevant Government agencies and organizations to implement the project effectively and efficiently.
The project outcome is formulated as: ‘Climate resilience of upper watershed ecosystems is improved or sustainably restored and the adaptive capacity of forest dependent communities is increased (through sustainable forest management and water resource conservation)’.
~35,000 ha of the river headwaters in five sub-watersheds located in two districts: (i) Upper and Lower Imphal catchment as well as Singda catchment in Kangpopki, (ii) Ukhrul Lower and Ukhrul Upper catchment in Ukhrul district.
Direct beneficiaries are up to 50 participating village communities who will gain benefits from sustainable forest and water resource management and livelihood activities in loan Phase I; and up to 50 additional villages in loan Phase II.