Participation in forestry: A study of people`s participation on the social forestry policy in Bangladesh: Myth or reality?
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This study is an attempt to study and explore the extent of people’s participation in the SF policy of Bangladesh and what are the roles of the main stakeholders: bureaucrats, Union Parishad and NGOs in ensuring the expected level of people’s participation in this policy. In this regard, several hypotheses are developed and for answering these questions, a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods has been adopted. These questions can be explained or analyzed on the basis of some independent and dependent variables. The dependent variable in this study is people’s participation, which is believed to be dependent upon certain actors and factors such as political and classical bureaucrats, patron-client relationship between the participants, bureaucrats and local elites of SF policy, and socio-economic background of the SF farmers. It was assumed that variables would influence and affect who participates in SF programs and their level of participation. The above mentioned questions are addressed in the light of political and classical bureaucrats as concept analyzed by Putnam (1975, 87), as well as on the basis of patron-client relationship, and theories of social capital. In the study it is found that the people’s participation in the SF policy illustrates the dissonance between myths and reality. SF’s performance in achieving the participatory goals was poor. A number of common institutional and social problems seemed to have shaped the performance. Participation of the main target group the landless, women and disadvantaged class of the society is minimal in the project. The selection of the members in the SF policy is the responsibility of the local Union Parishad Chairman. But no certain rules were followed in selecting SF members. Classical nature of the bureaucrats (role-orientation), patron-client relationship among the stakeholders, poor socio-economic background, NGOs ineffective role, lack of trust to the institutions like Union Parishad and bureaucracy are the main reasons for lack of people’s participation in the SF project. Among these factors patron-client relationship among the stakeholders is found as the most dominate because this vicious network impede the extent of people’s participation from the very beginning of the SF project to the last and demolish that objectives of the government dreadfully.