Annexes ... cntd
To achieve the common, long-term vision identified in Mbuya, the stakeholders need to agree on a strategy. Below is a possible example, subdivided in a number of components (action areas). Some broad objectives are listed for each component, as well as some hints on how these objectives could be achieved. In order to take action, detailed natural resource management plans and complementary socio-economic agreements will later be developed.
strategic component 1: governance
strategic component 2: managing natural resources under communal property
strategic component 3: managing household-owned natural resources
strategic component 4: the local economy
strategic component 5: health and society
strategic component 6: cultural heritage
strategic component 7: public infrastructure
During its first two years of implementation, the project aimed at rendering the co-management of natural resources a better understood, better appreciated and more viable option for the management of natural resources and protected areas in the Congo Basin. To this end, two key axes of intervention have been pursued, namely:
Below you will find an assessment of the activities implemented by the project, the results obtained and the initial lessons learned.
Networking among participating sites
The co-management project is based on a network of field initiatives, each representing a specific "observation site" from which to draw co-management lessons. The sites, in turn, benefit from technical assistance (training and tailored technical support) and the exchanges of experience brought about by the project.
At the start of the co-management project, the staff and partners of the observation sites were not particularly enthusiastic, perceiving their participation in the project activities mostly as additional work on an already busy schedule. In fact, the project had to encourage the involvement of social actors from the observation sites. Soon, however, the actors discovered for themselves the benefits of their participation in project activities. They saw that the co-management project offered a package of resources (information, training, exchanges of experience, tailored technical support) that could greatly help them enhance their capacity to promote and sustain participatory management processes.
The first general meeting attended by the delegates of the participating sites (including project staff and local partners, such as NGO staff, rural leaders, forest administration officials, etc.) allowed to identify common problems, begin to look for solutions together and develop a joint vision about what co-management entails. The group also defined some objectives for joint work and gave itself a name: Co-management Network for Natural Resources in the Congo Basin ("Réseau Cogestion des Ressources Naturelles dans le Bassin du Congo"). Furthermore, it was agreed to use the term "sites of learning" to designate the different sites linked to the network.
The team spirit born of the first general meeting became stronger with the passing of time (a training workshop and a forum for the exchange of experience were organised every six months), also as a result of the personal ties established among the group members and of the opportunities to develop together new knowledge and skills. At the end of the first two years of the process, the network decided to ensure its own perpetuation and autonomy vis-à-vis the co-management project. It also developed a role-sharing model, by which the coordination of the network rotates amongst the various sites of learning. In all of this, the co-management project continues to provide a facilitating role.
Group learning appeared to be the best approach to enhancing the capacity of the project staff and local partners from the participating sites. A whole range of methods and tools was utilised: training workshops, exchanges of experience, tailored technical support, dissemination of information, exchange visits, and so on.
The training workshops and the exchanges of experience are the pivotal elements of collective learning. In the workshop, the presentation of the experience of each site with regard to a specific issue of process step in co-management is generally followed by the collective discussion of its strengths and weaknesses, the identification of potential approaches and tools (also with the help of resource persons) and small-group sessions on future perspectives and plans. This work sequence greatly succeeded in motivating the participants to learn and discover together.
The first workshop allowed the participants to develop a common vision of collaborative management and a common language to describe it. The participants also expressed their willingness to translate their vision into reality in their respective project sites and their desire to acquire relevant methods and tools. In particular, they expressed the need to enhance their capacities:
A first response to these expressed needs for capacity building (knowledge, skills, attitudes and punctual technical support) was provided during the second workshop, which focused on the approaches and tools required for negotiating management agreements. The third workshop, geared to monitoring the process of natural-resource management, empowered participants to learn from their own experience. A review of the first lessons learned was conducted at each site of learning and presented during the fourth workshop. The fifth workshop focused on the methods and tools to facilitate social communication in a co- management process.
The sites of learning were also supported in a number of other ways: on-site technical missions, dissemination of information among sites, and facilitation of contacts and partnerships between sites and regional institutions. Technical assistance was provided upon request, as agreed at the network's first workshop, either on site or from the Yaoundé-based coordination of the co-management project. The co-management project has also tested the technical support "inter-sites", by which actors who acquired a certain level of experience share it directly with others in a sort of consultancy mission.
Since its inception, the co-management project monitored both its own process as well as its results. The latter comprise: the network of learning sites, the learning process itself and the broad transformation of the milieu in the Congo Basin.
The network of learning sites
The co-management project operates through a network of learning sites. Indeed, the direct beneficiaries (project staff and partners in the learning sites) demonstrated a strong enthusiasm and a sense of ownership with respect to both the project and the network. This is confirmed by various observations. At a workshop in Mamfe (June 1999) Christian Chatelain, the CMWG member then in charge of technical support, noted in his report that "the participants did not just come to listen or participate, but show that this project belongs to them, that they are benefiting from it and that they wish to keep it running for a long time". In fact, the participants in that workshop discussed how the co-management project could to be continued after the two years initially funded by GTZ, and decided to send two "delegates" to the project steering committee. Since then, the network participated in all steering committee meetings and actively helped organise and run the phase II planning workshop. Contacts between the on-site project actors and the project coordination have also progressively intensified.
Identifying common problems and seeking solutions together during the training workshops also helped strengthening the network's team spirit. Indeed, the various learning sites expressed strong feelings of identification with the Réseau Cogestion. In the occasion of the Buea workshop, in December 1999, they took measures to prevent the disbanding of the network in case the co-management project would come to an end. This included a clear separation between the network and the project. For instance, in the course of the year 2000, the network is being run by the Korup learning site, and the project plays only a minimal support role.
Beside the contacts at the time of the training workshops, inter-personal contacts among project staff and partners from the learning sites have multiplied in various occasions, including meetings to discuss specific problems and achievements, the establishment of regional sub-networks (e.g. for the projects Dia and PROFORNAT in South - east Cameroon), exchange visits, and inter-project support missions.
In summary, the network of learning sites works effectively, and the sites themselves express a strong sense of ownership for the co-management project.
Collective learning by doing
A few main achievements indicate the extent to which the collective learning process has progressed:
Besides the indicators of institutional achievements just mentioned, it is worth noting that at the learning sites the attitudes of local communities and officials in charge of conservation has greatly improved. At Conkouati, for example, the co-management process led to the emergence of new pressure groups for conservation. In June 1999, a number of local stakeholders succeeded in reversing a ministerial decision concerning forest exploitation in the eco-development zones. They reminded the forest administration officials that they were not the only ones to have a say in the management of the reserve's natural resources, at least not according to the contents of the charter they had all signed. In Waza Park, the conservation officials have accepted the principle of negotiating with the women of local communities the rules to govern extraction and use of some of the park's natural resources, such as gum Arabic, fish and straw.
The improved milieu in the Congo Basin
The co-management project has the mandate of promoting processes of participatory management of natural resources in the Congo Basin (and other regions). Is it succeeding to create a more favourable milieu for co-management? For instance, is the project accepted by other regional conservation initiatives? Has it been able to generate their interest? Has it been able to influence them?
The requests for cooperation made by various institutions constitute a good indicator of the level of the co-management project's acceptance in the region. As a result of these requests, inputs by the co-management project have prompted:
In addition, several institutions have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the co-management project. These include:
In other words, far from being considered an isolated or rival initiative, the co-management project is appreciated by other regional and national conservation programmes, which hope to take advantage of the services it can deliver.
Preliminary achievements of the GTZ/IUCN/CMWG
Co-management Project in the Congo Basin —
a schematic summary
The initial lessons learned by the co-management project are many and can be grouped into three areas: co-management methods and tools, feasibility conditions at various sites, and management of the project itself.
Co-management methods and tools
Various lessons on more or less effective methods and tools have been learned while implementing co-management processes at the various sites. Among those:
Feasibility conditions at various sites
It has become apparent that the conditions existing in the learning sites have a considerable influence on the evolution and outcome of the local co-management processes. Indeed, certain members in the Réseau Cogestion have not been supported by their project colleagues in their attempts to implement co-management initiatives. The reasons given focus mainly on the pre-existing projects strategic plans. Often, the members of the Réseau Cogestion are asked to fit project plans that do not at all foresee co-management approaches. This is compounded by the lack of relevant budgetary planning: in most projects, no budget is earmarked for co-management, even when financial resources have been set aside to promote community participation and environmental education. As a result, it can be argued that:
In other words, for co-management to succeed it is vital to begin with a clear agreement on the desirability of the approach on the part of the entire project team. It is also crucial to allocate from the beginning the necessary human and financial resources.
The management of the project
Two key lessons:
With respect to the dynamics generated by the co-management project, it is now expedient to:
With this in mind, it was recommended during the Phase II planning workshop (September 1999) to continue the project for a second biennium with a view to ensuring the effective application of the co-management approach for the sustainable management of natural resources in the region. On the basis of this objective and the needs identified during the planning workshop, the activities in the second phase of the project (2000-2001) revolve around three main strategic axes:
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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