Annex 1. Participatory methods and tools for co-management
(modified from Borrini-Feyerabend, 1997, and Barton et al., 1998)

Street or village theatre (and film shows)

Street or village theatre is a method of social communication that promotes public information and discussion of specific issues or problems. Basically, it prompts the attention and interest of people by telling a story, and needs the contribution of local storytellers, theatre groups, clowns, dancers and / or puppet artists. The show usually capitalises on attractive imagery, music and humour to raise people's awareness of an issue affecting them. The audience can be encouraged to join in and play a part in the show. The show can be filmed or recorded for radio broadcasting, and thus be made available to a wider audience.

At times, a live theatre piece cannot be produced. In those cases, consider substituting it with a film describing how the issues and problems at stake affect the life of local people.

The show (or film) should be entertaining and stimulate people to think, participate and discuss among themselves. It should strive to illustrate several points of view on a given subject and avoid passing on a "pre-cooked message." When humour is used, it should not be at the expense of one institutional actor in particular, as this could compromise the chances of dialogue and communication in the co-management process.


How is it done?

With the Start-up Team, identify a co-management problem or issue that needs local attention and action. Meet with local entertainers to discuss how the issue or problem could be illustrated by a story or told through a play, dance or some other local form of entertainment. If none of this is feasible, consider a film.

Support the production of a show (or a film), and have it tested with a small local audience for interest and effectiveness.

Present the show at local gatherings, such as a festival or market day. Some presentations can also be taken to schools or to the streets. At the end of the show (or film), encourage the audience to discuss the main issue or problem among themselves. Let them know that there are groups and initiatives willing to do something about it, and that they are welcome to offer their advice and contributions. Say specifically who is doing what and how people can contribute.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ an entertaining and non–threatening way of promoting the discussion of an issue / problem

+ based on local customs, traditions and culture and therefore readily understood and accepted

+ does not usually require large capital investment

+ does not usually depend on technology that can break down

+ can be highly credible and persuasive where folk media has a strong tradition

– requires skilful local artists

– may be difficult to organize and requires a close working relationship with local media artists

Community radio programmes

Community radio programmes are excellent means of social communication, to inform people and stimulate their discussion and debate. They can be produced at the local, district or regional level. The content of the programmes may vary from formal documentaries to discussion forums, from plays and storytelling to talk shows where local people participate directly or "phone-in" and express their views on the air.

Effective programmes are made by mobile radio production teams, who interact with a range of people and record a variety of material in the local language and in various locations. Increasingly, even in the remotest corners of the world one can occasionally find community tele-centres, equipped with telephone, radio, word processors, e-mail and access to the Internet. Such centres can also organise themselves for local radio programming and broadcasting. Experimentation is currently under way to broadcast directly from the Internet to local low-power radios.

Decision-makers and politicians usually like to participate in radio programmes, and they can be asked to respond to the issues and problems raised by the public. This may promote some effective action or at least increased accountability on the part of the politicians.


How is it done?

Identify a radio station willing to host a programme on the subject of interest and establish an agreement with it, possibly on a regular basis and at a popular listening time. Alternatively, set up a new (even low-power) emitter in the local area. Have some individuals trained in the techniques of preparing a radio programme, including interviewing. If a documentary approach is to be used, prepare a story line and, as much as possible, involve local people in designing the programme.

For interviewing, select local people who can present a range of experiences and perspectives and express themselves clearly. For discussion programmes, make sure that a variety of local groups and points of view are represented.

Edit the tapes so that they offer a coherent picture of the issues confronting the community and the co-management initiative. Offer plenty of questions to stimulate the audience to think.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ Can inform many people over a wide area within a short time

+ Can lead to more transparency and accountability

+ Can strengthen the sense of community and of shared experience

+ If aired on a regular basis, radio programmes can be invaluable as a forum for discussion around the co-management initiative

+ Tapes can be copied and distributed to organizations and schools to use as a focus for group discussion; they can also be distributed to local transport vehicles to generate on- the-road discussions

– Relies on people having access to radios or to telephones (for talk shows)

– Cost and time involved in preparing documentary programmes are considerable

– Use of recording and editing equipment requires technical knowledge

– Can only be used for raising awareness, not as a substitute for face-to-face discussions with the affected community and other stakeholders.

Land-use mapping

A group of people collectively draws a map of a community, a territory or an area at stake. The map shows the geographical distribution of environmental, demographic, social and economic features as seen by the participants in the exercise. Land uses, borders and key resources and problems are then highlighted. The participants draw the map on a flipchart or on the ground, plotting features with symbols that are understood and accepted by all members of the group, regardless of literacy (see the picture on the cover of this book). Purchased maps, aerial photographs or basic drawings on paper or on the ground can also be used as a basis for the exercise. Land-use mapping is useful for providing an overview (or "snapshot") of the local situation. It can also serve as a good starting point for environmental and social assessment.


How is it done?

Discuss the purpose of the exercise with the participants. Agree on the subject and limits (borders) of the map and on the graphic symbols to be used; participants choose their own symbols.

Ask one of the participants to be the main person responsible for drawing or plotting symbols according to the suggestions of the group, but leave everyone free to participate.

In fact, promote participation by posing questions to several individuals; allow the group to discuss different opinions and views.

Once the map is finalized, ask participants to interpret the overall picture; if appropriate, suggest that they locate on the map the main problems in the area, as they see them. Ask also to locate on the map available resources, and explain what could be done to solve the problems.

The map is community property; leave the original in the community and make copies or take pictures of it if other uses are foreseen.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ Mapping and the associated discussions quickly provide a broad overview of the situation.

+ They encourage interactive communication

+ They help people to see links, patterns and inter-relationships in their territory

+ Individuals who are illiterate can also participate

– Mapping must be complemented by information generated by other participatory assessment tools to avoid subjectivity and superficiality

– Some cultures may have difficulties in understanding graphic representations

Historical mapping

Historical mapping uses a series of land-use mapping exercises to portray the demographic, social and natural resource situation of a community or territory at different moments of its history. Usually, three maps are drawn, showing the situation as it existed one generation ago, at the present time, and as it is expected after one generation to come. Demographic information can be plotted as household symbols or circles to represent 10 or 100 residents. Other symbols can be used for natural resources, types of crops, pasture areas, infrastructures, social services, etc.

Historical mapping can be extremely helpful in introducing the time dimension in participatory appraisal and planning. It can provide visual evidence of changes that have occurred and expected trends. In this way, people can easily identify determinants of environmental and socio-economic problems and options for moving towards their desired future.


How is it done?

The participants draw a map of the current demographic, socio-economic and environmental situation. With the help and advice of community elders, the same exercise is repeated to show the situation as it was approximately twenty years ago.

The current and past maps are then compared, often via a brainstorming session, to identify collectively major changes and their root causes.

Based on the list of changes and causes, a prospective map can be drawn by the participants to show their expectations of the situation that will exist in the community in 20–30 years, if current trends are maintained.

The future map can be analysed to explore differences between what is projected and what a desirable future would be. The discussion can progress to identify potential ways to address the identified problems. If need be, a map corresponding to the vision of the community (see the "guided vision exercise" in this chapter) can be drawn as a planning and visualising tool.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ the technique can be very expedient when summarising the results of a comprehensive participatory appraisal

+ it may make the participants more aware of the fact that most positive and negative changes in environment and development are shaped by historical, people-related actions

+ it can help to identify medium- or long-term solutions to the problems affecting the community

– the exercise is sometimes long and complex; more than one session with the group may be needed to get through the whole sequence of mapping and discussion

– sensitive issues from the past may be raised, including conflicts within the community and between the community and outsiders

Transect walks and diagrams

One way for a Start-up Team to help a stakeholder group identify and reflect upon some key feature of their environment and lifestyle is to take an observational walk together, i.e., a walk paying attention to people, activities, resources, environmental features, etc. Observational walks may be taken in a meandering way, following a particular feature of the landscape or the interests of the observer(s). The walks can also be structured as a transect, i.e., a straight line cutting across the terrain in a given direction. Walks of these kinds help to verify the information provided on maps, both through direct observation and in discussions with people met along the way. Ideally the walk is organized for a small group, so as to maximize the opportunities for interactions.

There are several types of transects, among which two broad categories are social and environmental transects. The social category usually concentrates on number and distribution of households, housing types, infrastructures, social services, administrative boundaries, economic activities, literacy levels, work skills, etc. It may also focus on one specific aspect of local life, such as public health, and thus picture incidence of particular diseases, health risk factors, etc. The environmental category focuses on natural resources and land-use features, such as forests, rangeland, barren land and erosion phenomena, streams and other bodies of water, extension of cultivated land, types of soil and crops. A typical transect includes a combination of social and land-use information.


How is it done?

The Start-up Team agrees with the relevant interest group who will take part in the transect walk and discusses with them the purpose of the exercise. During the walk the participants take notes about the relevant features observed, seek clarifications from people encountered along the way and discuss with them problems and opportunities in informal and convivial ways.

After the walk, the Team and the participants discuss the collected notes and draw a transect diagram together. Under the diagram, related to specific sections of the territory or area at stake, they note environmental and social features, as well as problems and opportunities specific to each sector/ area.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ transect walks are a highly participatory and relaxed technique

+ they enhance local knowledge and can be used very effectively in low-literacy communities

+ they are very useful in validating findings of participatory mapping exercises

+ the diagrams illustrate quite concisely a variety of local features and issues

– the walks and the drawing and analysis of the transects take some time (usually several hours)

– drawing good transect diagrams requires some graphic skills.

Trend analysis

Trend analysis is used as part of an individual or group interview and consists of an in-depth discussion of specific issues or phenomena (e.g. tree cover on the hills, fish productivity in the lake, jobs in the region). Has the phenomenon evolved with time? How is it likely to evolve in the future? Is the evolution desirable? If not, what could be done about it? For large areas, such as a region or country, trend-related data are often available, but for small areas, such as a village, it is unlikely that such data exist, especially data covering a long period of time. Thus, information showing a pattern of change needs to be obtained locally. The main purpose of trend analysis is to assess changes over time, and to raise the awareness of people about phenomena that accumulate slowly (e.g. soil degradation, population dynamics).


How is it done?

The participants in the exercise select the topic /subject to assess and identify one or more accurate indicators. For instance, if the subject is community well being the facilitator could ask the participants what constitutes a good life for them. They may list household income, transport facilities, numbers of livestock, access to services such as education and health care, etc. If the subject is the management of the watershed they may list: water flow in the valley, water pollution, vegetation cover, instances of serious gully erosion, etc.

The facilitator then asks the participants to say where they think they are now in relation to each indicator, where they were 5-10-20 years ago, where they think they will be in 5-10-20 years. Together with them, draw a graph of the trend for each indicator, or use some symbolic graph, such as adjacent piles of little stones on the ground (more stones mean that the indicator goes up). Once the trends are clear, the facilitator asks the participants to discuss them ("What is happening? Why? Is that good or bad? Good for whom and bad for whom? Should something be done about it? What? What would be happening then?").


Strengths and weaknesses

+ creates an awareness of potentially negative and positive trends in the community, including the environmental impacts of activities

+ group interaction enriches the quality and quantity of information provided

+ different points of view existing in the community can surface and be compared

+ allows a comparison of trends of different indicators and, possibly, an estimate of the relationships between them

+ cheap to use and can be adapted to the materials available (e.g. the graph can be drawn on the ground using leaves or stones as symbols and numbers)

– relies on memory and subjective judgement, although group interaction can control that to some extent

– it is quite a complex tool, requiring the active participation of local people


Brainstorming is a basic idea-gathering technique employed in group exercises. It is based on a freewheeling offering of ideas that starts with an open-ended and somehow provocative question put forward by the facilitator. Opening statements and questions should be general and non-leading, i.e., should not stress or overemphasize a particular point of view that can bias the participants.

It should be clear that brainstorming is a free and non-committal way of exploring views and options, i.e., no one commits herself or himself to something by suggesting a potential solution or issue to explore. Brainstorming can elicit multiple ideas on a given issue/ problem, and the group discussion that usually follows can help group members explore and compare a variety of possible solutions.


How is it done?

The issue to be discussed is introduced by the facilitator; the key question is posed aloud and written on the blackboard or on a flipchart. Participants are asked to provide short answers, comments or ideas (no speeches at this stage!).

An important point to stress at the beginning is that "all ideas are good ideas;" if some people do not agree with someone else's point, they should give what they think is a better idea. The facilitator should accept only additional contributions during brainstorming, not disagreements or arguments, which should be deferred to the discussion afterwards. The facilitator should also encourage fresh ideas rather than the repetitions of earlier items.

Each participant is allowed to express his/her view. Over-talkative participants need to be gently calmed down, and silent participants can be asked explicitly for their views and ideas.

The facilitator picks the basic point out of participant statements and ensures that it is written (or portrayed with a picture) on the blackboard or flipchart; the appropriateness of the summary is checked with the participants concerned.

The brainstorming exercise should be kept relatively short: 15–30 minutes is usually sufficient to obtain most of the ideas on a specific topic without tiring the participants. At times one may use several periods of brainstorming for related issues, such as "key problems in the area" and "key community resources".

Review the results with the participant group. Remove duplicated items and cluster groups of similar ideas. Highlight differences of opinion and discuss these until a list of clearly described ideas is achieved. Record (or summarise) the results of the brainstorming session and keep them for future reference.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ a properly conducted brainstorming session facilitates participation by all group members in the idea-building process

+ people are stimulated to think on hearing the views of others.

+ a large number of ideas and solutions can be generated quickly

+ it is a good introduction for more structured and focused exercises

– experience in dealing with group dynamics and good mediation and summarising skills are needed for the facilitator to keep the discussion on track

– if not properly managed, conflicts and uneasiness within the group may limit the brainstorming results.

structured brainstorming

Structured brainstorming (also called Nominal Group Technique or NGT) is an exercise to facilitate thinking "as a group". The exercise needs a skilful facilitator, who begins the meeting by posing a clear question to the group (e.g. "what are the key obstacles ahead on our path towards the future we desire?"). In the normal brainstorming people reply to the question and interactively. In structured brainstorming everyone is given time to think and to note down his or her main replies on cards. The cards are then presented, discussed and grouped to represent the collective reflection of the participants.


How is it done?

The facilitator presents the participants with a clear question upon which to reflect. The question is written on a flip chart or board for everyone to see. Each participant has some cards (half the size of a letter sheet is usually good; coloured paper adds to the visual appeal) and felt pens. The participants write down the answers/ issues/ actions they think are relevant to answer the question. These should be written as a simple sentence or few words (ask them to write large, all-caps letters, to be seen from afar, possibly not more than five words per card). The participants can use as many cards as they wish.

Each participant comes to the front of the group, and reads out and explains what he/she has recorded on the card(s). Each card is then pinned or taped on the wall. The first person spreads her/his cards out. Subsequent people are asked to add their cards close to the ones most similar to theirs or, if a totally new item is suggested, to start another cluster on the wall.

When all the people have presented their ideas and placed them on the wall, there will be various clusters of items: some with many cards, some with only one or two. The facilitator then asks the participants to consider whether they need to rearrange the cards among the clusters; if they do, they should discuss the moves and agree as a group. The participants may also decide to remove some cards or cluster(s). Even those who originally proposed the items may change their mind once they have heard other ideas.

The facilitator agrees with the participants on a title or paragraph to summarize all the aspects and ideas noted in each cluster.

If a rank order is needed among the clusters, follow up with a ranking exercise. More commonly, the large group of participants is broken down into smaller groups, each to discuss in depth one of the various clusters identified. The smaller groups then report on their findings, and a general discussion allows the exercise to be concluded.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ The exercise helps participants group their individual opinions as a collective product

+ Everyone is asked, and expected, to contribute, and the technique helps them paying greater attention to the ideas of others

+ The technique is constructive and adds an important visual element to issues and ideas for action

+ A record of the key ideas is produced during the technique, comprising the cards, the summary statements and the reports from the small groups

– Literacy is needed to participate in the exercise

– A skilful facilitator is essential, as is a balanced stakeholder participation, to avoid the dominance of some interest groups

Guided visioning

Guided visioning is an imaginary journey into the future. It is done with a group of people willing to develop together a detailed image of a desirable future for a given community, territory or set of natural resources. The exercise encourages the participants to think freely and boldly, unconstrained by what is in place today or by all the obstacles and problems that may present themselves in the face of change. In most planning exercises, a group may miss a vision of what "could be" because the discussion remains focused on immediate interests and existing constraints. Engaging in a deliberate exercise of imagining a world "fit for our children" helps people overcome a focus on personal and short-term interests and the apathy that may derive from existing stumbling blocks. These blocks may be there, but they will never be overcome without some bold and far-reaching inspiration.

The facilitator should stress that people may indeed come up with some "wishful thinking" and that this is exactly what the exercise is intended to produce: a vision of the future which may or may not be entirely attainable in the lifetime of the participants, but may be approached, and in all cases is desirable for future generations. The facilitator should also mention that more concrete exercises will be developed later, which, in contrast, will focus only on attainable and measurable targets.

How is it done?

In a comfortable setting (not a town hall; possibly sitting under a tree), participants are asked to relax, and close their eyes. They are told they are going on a journey into the future, perhaps 20 or 30 years from now, when their "ideal" community (or territory, etc.) exists. Make sure that people refer to the same area (clarify the boundaries). They should visualise the absolutely perfect and ideal community (or territory, etc.) they wish their children to inherit and live in.

The participants go through the exercise individually, without speaking, while the facilitator accompanies them possibly by reading a prepared text describing a walk through the community or territory at stake and/ or asking open questions on what specific components look like. The participants are not supposed to answer the questions aloud, but just visualise an answer for themselves. Typical questions might be about their homes, the forest, the coastal area, the agricultural fields, the river, the village main square. "What do they look like? Do you see people around? What are they doing?" The facilitator never suggests what the participants are supposed to see. He/she merely sets the stage for the participants to visualize the features in their ideal environment. Questions are posed at suitable intervals, so that people have time to visualise features in their mind.

When the virtual walk is complete, the participants are asked to open their eyes, stretch and reflect on all they have seen and write down, or review and record in their mind, the first ten images they recall from their imaginary walk.

The facilitator then goes around the group asking each participant to describe one of the images they have recorded on paper or in their mind. Each is noted on a flip chart or board. This continues until all the images are recorded.

The facilitator summarizes the images into a vision statement for the participants to amend, add to, etc. until a consensus is reached. He/she may also ask a participant to start mapping the ideal community or territory on a flip chart on the basis of the images provided by the various participants; other participants add to this picture and/or draw other pictures.

The pictures may then be discussed and subdivided into categories (e.g. working environment, housing, protected natural areas). These categories may help in identifying the key components and objectives of a strategy geared to achieving the common vision of the desired future.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ Is an effective tool for communities wishing to develop a shared vision of their collective future

+ Puts present differences in perspective, diffuses conflicts and encourages participants to see beyond their pressing concerns

+ Is an interactive and non-confrontational process

+ Builds cooperative alliances where communities can work together towards common objectives

+ Is fun

– Conflicts may emerge if people's images are very diverse

– A great deal relies on the quality of facilitation, the capacity to elicit a rich vision and the meeting's atmosphere (relaxed but still serious and positive)

Problem-causes-effects tree

Building a tree of causes and effects is a simple and widely comprehensible visual technique to analyse a problem and orient a group toward actions based on that analysis. The technique starts with a consensus on the problem to investigate. A facilitator for this exercise will need to remember that definitions and linkages of problems-causes-and-effects may be interpreted in several ways. The "problem" for a development professional (e.g., soil erosion) could be a "cause" for a community member (e.g., of the problem of declining yields) and an "effect" for a scientific researcher (e.g., of the problem of deforestation and cultivation on steep slopes). This method is suited also for non-literate people, although special attention to graphic symbols may be needed to make the exercise meaningful to them.


How is it done?

Once the participants have clarified which problem they wish to explore, the facilitator draws a large sketch of a tree on a flipchart, showing its trunk, roots and branches. The issue or problem is then written (or represented graphically, if participants are non-literate) on a card, and the card is pinned on the trunk. The facilitator explains that the roots represent the causes of the problem and the branches its consequences. A brainstorming session is then carried out among the participants to express their perceptions about the causes of the problem and its consequences. These are also written or graphically represented on cards and placed at the tree's roots and at the tips of the branches.

During the exercise, a re-negotiation may take place within the group about what is – really – the problem at stake. If this happens, the cards can be changed or moved around by the facilitator. The facilitator may help by asking questions to deepen the analysis and by keeping the discussion centred on concerns, topics and language well understood by all the participants.

Once the diagram is completed, the discussion can move on to explore possible 'solutions' to deal with the causes and consequences of the problem. The purpose is to raise participant awareness that different levels of solutions can be identified to deal with any single problem. This can also help participants to understand that the final decision about what to do may involve a trade-off between higher effectiveness (which usually comes from attacking the very root causes of the problem) and easier or faster generation of specific results (which may alleviate or control some effects and consequences of the problem on daily life, even if it does not tackle the problem itself). People may also start proposing concrete actions to achieve the solutions. Those could be written on different coloured cards and also pinned on the diagrams.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ the method has a strong visual component, it can be effective also with non-literate people

+ the discussion of possible solutions may help sensitise participants to the fact that most problems are quite complex and can be solved only through a combination of approaches and the collaboration of various social actors

- the method can degenerate into a theoretical discussion of "what constitutes a problem?"

- the method may make people painfully aware of the complexity of issues, and discourage them from action.


Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats/limitations (SWOT)

SWOT analysis is a powerful tool for group assessment of an issue of concern, in particular interventions or services. It is based on a structured brainstorming session aimed at eliciting group perceptions of the positive factors (strengths), the negative factors (weaknesses), the possible improvements (opportunities) and the constraints (threats and limitations) related to a given issue.

SWOT analysis is especially useful for evaluating activities carried out in the community. It can be focused on services provided by external agencies, as well as used for self-evaluation of the interest group's own performance.


How is it done?

A four-column matrix is drafted on the blackboard or on a flipchart and the four evaluation categories are explained to participants. It is helpful to phrase the four categories as key questions, to which participants can respond; the issue of concern is written on top of the matrix (if it is the only one to be considered), or on the side, if several items will be SWOT-analysed.

The facilitator starts the brainstorming by asking the group a key question about strengths; responses from the group are jotted down on the relevant column of the matrix. When all points of strength are represented, the group also identifies weaknesses, opportunities and limitations.

At times, participants have different opinions or express contradictory statements. In such cases, the facilitator can ask further questions to deepen the arguments, but a consensus among the group members is not necessary. Contrasting views can be listed on the same column in the matrix. At times, however, it emerges that, in order to assess a certain point, more information needs to be gathered. In such a case the exercise may be continued on a different day.


Strengths and weaknesses

+ the technique stresses consideration of different sides (positive and negative) of the issues. It therefore helps to set the basis for negotiations and trade-offs and promotes understanding of other people's views

+ SWOT analysis is a good means to discuss an issue in detail within a group and to prepare the group to discuss with outsiders

+ SWOT analysis can promote group creativeness. It helps to link perceptions of things as they are with realistic expectations about how things could be

+ "strengths" and "weaknesses" tend to be descriptive and easy for respondents to identify

– "opportunities" and "threats" (i.e., limitations, constraints or barriers) are more analytical concepts and are usually harder to elicit

– sensitive topics and differences of opinion may arise during the discussion.

– some group members may attempt to dominate the discussion

– the facilitator needs good synthesising skills.

Annex 2. Example of the "common vision of the desired future" of a rural community

The following is a summary of the personal visions of a variety of community residents and stakeholders, as could be written by a process facilitator. The description is in the present tense, but looks at a period 15-25 years from now. Notice that the description is ambitious and positive and it has not been kept "low-key" because of present-day socio-economic constraints. It also contains many visual elements.

Mbuya, twenty years from now, is a proud and rich community, a place where people have found a way to work for the common good. Families find a good income, health care and schools for their children. The elderly lead a dignified life and are respected by everyone. The young people prefer to stay than to migrate away. Women have steadily increased their social standing, and many now hold positions of prestige and responsibility in the community, such as heading businesses and public committees.

In Mbuya, people live and work in peace. There is hardly any crime. When outsiders pose a danger, they are quickly identified and rendered harmless. You always see a lot of people around, young and old, and the atmosphere is busy and pleasant. There is a regular-size football field, very much used by the local youth. In the weekend people enjoy themselves with music and dancing until late at night. The houses have good roofs. Many are freshly painted and have gardens with flowers. There is a special parking area for lorries, with resting and restaurant facilities for the drivers. In town, people move around mostly by bicycle and taxi motorbike. There are lots of shops and small restaurants everywhere, and plenty of posters announcing events and gatherings. Seemingly, Mbuya is rich in local associations and sport clubs.

In the heart of town, roads are lined with trees. There are two squares: a larger one, extremely lively at market days, and a smaller one, a pleasant space where public ceremonies and festivities are usually held. You can spot the building of the public administration, several churches and mosques, private and state clinics and three schools.

Mbuya's cultural heritage is well appreciated and attracts national and even international tourists, who like participating in local ceremonies and festivities. Local music, songs and dances are renowned. Mbuya craftspeople take part in national exhibitions with woodcarvings, bamboo musical instruments and hand-woven silk textiles.

Many young people from Mbuya have access to higher-level education in the capital or in other main cities, but most of them come back to work in their native town. Some of them have established a community telecenter, with international telephone, word processing, access to Internet and a lively community radio.

The sacred forest in the hills has remained unchanged over hundreds of years, and provides refuge for a variety of animals and plants that the people– elderly and young alike– know well. Timber, poles, vines, medicinal plants, silk cocoons and honey are extracted from the non-sacred forests. People hunt wild animals in the occasion of traditional ceremonies. Most of the flat land is used for agriculture and a combination of traditional and modern technologies ensures that the farmers reap good harvests of rice, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables.

There are local enterprises for processing and canning the produce. The community is connected to the regional capital by a tarmac road, and you can find Mbuya's products sold there, as well as in other places in the country. Mbuya's commercial enterprises are lively, and known for their capacity to deliver and for keeping to their word.

Everyone in Mbuya has access to electricity and clean tap water. Drainage and sanitation facilities are working well, and rubbish is regularly collected and taken to disposal. The administrative authorities are proud of having provided these services, which promote public health and sustain the local economy.

The donor agency that supported the development of the community, twenty years ago, has long moved operations to another area. The agency's staff come to visit as welcome guests during local festivities.

The above vision may have been developed by a group of stakeholders including, for instance, local government administrators, the Council of the Elders, representatives of the farmers, woodcutters, shopkeepers, artisans, young people, the health department, the forestry department, the agricultural extension, the Mbuya's Women Association, a local NGO concerned with the protection of nature, a local NGO concerned with children's health, the main donor agency in the area, business representatives who come regularly to Mbuya during market days, religious authorities, etc.

The above vision can be transformed into a broad social contract, for instance a charter of principles including a variety of commitments, such as:

…all institutional actors will co-operate to achieve a healthy and productive environment, in which all citizens can live in safety…

…the Council of Elders will strive to keep the local traditions alive and respected…

… Mbuya's community will use the forest resources (including precious timber, medicinal plants and game) in a sustainable manner…

…the peasant households will agree on a fair share of water resources and on common activities for protecting soil and preventing flooding…

…the local administration will sustain local development (transport infrastructures, market connections, training)…

…the health agency, local NGOs and administration will work together to set up a healthy living and working environment in the community...

… Mbuya's Women Association will help women to develop businesses and take on a variety of social responsibilities…

…the forestry department will help local residents protect their sacred forest from outside exploiters …

…the business community will invest locally to create food-processing industries, and will offer jobs to local people…

…the donor agency will facilitate the negotiation of co-management plans and agreements and support the establishment of a Community Investment Fund…

Comments and feedback on this page, or this publication, are welcomed. These should be may be sent by e-mail to the authors at: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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