A year after Fiona’s work was published, CHS was asked to help people in the Western Ghats to present their account of the problems arising from the Joint Forest Management (JFM) project, heavily funded by the UK Overseas Development Agency.
As letters of complaint and reports were being ignored by the ODA’s representative in Delhi, a video of villagers’ evidence was made – funded by Edward Goldsmith of The Ecologist – and taken to UK by an activist from the Appiko Andolan, Pandurang Hegde. Jeremy Seabrook – CHS’ co-founder – and Nicholas Hildyard – then editor of The Ecologist – arranged and chaired a few gatherings at which Pandurang spoke and the video was shown. The ODA (now DFID) officials agreed to a meeting at their Whitehall office, and, after seeing the video, agreed that an enquiry should be held.
We later heard from a young worker with Oxfam that this NGO had been asked to exercise oversight and that, in his opinion, beneficial changes had been made to this project, though there was still scope for further improvement.