Samdhana Fellows have many years of experience in organising and assisting local communities to outline local-traditional systems of natural resources management that reflect their forest tenure, especially the economic and enviromental performance of these systems. Fellows are committed to sharing their experiences and continuing the cycle of learning from local people, to evolve newer approaches to dealing with outside pressures on their landscapes and develop methods to improve management. The projects include organising local institutions through land use planning, inventory of local-traditional systems to integrate existing sustainable forest management schemes and monitoring.
When it comes to natural resources access, Samdhana takes note of the importance of considering the roles of women vis a vis men to a particular resource or activity. Organizing and facilitating the space for women, especially indigenous women to express these roles and understand the context of their own struggles in tenure recognition and sustainable livelihoods is very important to secure an institutional response to inequality, conflict and sustainability. The projects include participation of women in mapping, support for local women leaders, popularising local agriculture, food and products linked with healthy environments for next generation.
Samdhana assists in protecting, negotiating and safeguarding tenure rights attached to land and landscapes earmarked for low emissions development in response to climate change. Working directly with local and indigenous community groups and organisations found inside and around these land and landscapes, Samdhana assists in communicating and clarifying rights holders understanding of climate change, their roles as guardians of the landscape and the institutional and economic potentials for keeping the carbon in place. The projects support rights mapping, landscapes for green development planning, community REDD+ and working with local and national government Climate and Forest programs.
This work centers on supporting efforts to increase understanding, development and implementation of Asian methods for conflict management and resolution, with a focus on conflict over access to and management of natural resources. This program includes support to legal/policy analysis and development aimed at securing community-based property rights. Priority will be placed on threatened people and ecosystems and strategies that address both internal conflict and multi party conflicts.
The Institute recognizes that too little attention has been given to leadership development and leadership transition in local non-governmental and other civil society organizations. In response, Samdhana runs a leadership program aimed at assisting NGO and other civil society leaders to reflect upon their experiences and strengthen their leadership skills. This program encourages participants to be proactive in mentoring their own staff and in facilitating smooth leadership transitions. Peer learning, systems thinking, reflection and mentoring approaches are used. Samdhana Fellows assist in leadership training and often become longer-term mentors to local actors/leaders.
Samdhana prioritizes building strong community institutions and/or their service providers. Fellows, associates are committed to longer term partnerships with local community groups directly or indirectly receiving their services. With the Samdhana areas of expertise as starting point, fellows provide direct assistance, facilitation, training upon request. These trainings are generally not one-off events and would require the mutual commitment with partners/trainees to use the skills learned to resolve issues and provide solutions. The follow through activities are as important as the main activities themselves.
Sharing local partners' aspirations, Samdhana measures successful rights advocacy in improved community welfare. This is best accomplished by bridging competent service providers with local and indigenous community groups who are protecting their land rights, in advancing the local partners' economic aspirations including among others, secure assets (land) and evolving good quality planting material, technical support, and markets. Natural resource-based products and ecosystem services are among the highest in the list of commodities under this theme.