Sunday, April 17, 2011
COMMUNITY PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT: A STRONG STRATEGY IN NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION
For the past years, Conservation of nature and environment in Tanzania was believed to be responsibility of the Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. More recently, International, National and local Non- Government Organizations for Natural Resource conservation such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Frunkfut Zoological Society (FZS), Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization(EMEDO),Wildlife Conservation Society Tanzania (WCST) and many others have increasingly involved in conservational of natural resources.
In the past few years, conservation of natural resources was conducted in non-participatory means which highly excluded participation local communities. Nowdays, it is unusual to suggest an effective non- participatory conservation strategy. It has been realized nowdays that, for any conservation strategy to be successful and sustainable, it must highly involve active local community participation meaning from initial stage of preparation so as to influence decision making.
Biological resources such as wildlife, fish, forests and wetlands are being exploited in unsustainable manner. Conservationist and development groups are therefore busy searching for approaches to sustainable resource management. The “top-down”, approaches used in conservation projects are not only ineffective but also prohibitively expensive, they are tightly controlled, centrally managed and are dominated by technical experts which engage only educative class.
Despite of the facts about successful participatory conservation efforts, still there some non- participatory initiatives undertaken hence zero or little achievements with Environmental projects/programmes.
If rural people could be encouraged to actively participate in the decision regarding the use of communal resources, for example grazing land and forests, our natural resources would be sustainably protected. The situation is better exemplified in Ukerewe District, where a Non-governmental Organization called Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization (EMEDO) has managed to establish and implement a community based activity named Wetland Management for sustainable fishing as a component of the WWF funded Project called “Promoting Sustainable Fishing through active community Advocacy around Lake Victoria”. During my four (4) days field visit in Ukerewe District with EMEDO team; I (as Young Environmentalist Trainee-2011) had a chance to visit EMEDO’s project sites, participating in training in Hamukoko and Mluseni villages on planning, budgeting and Wetland Management.
During my field visit, I managed to ask the community animators about the secret behind full engagement of local communities in EMEDO’s conservation projects. Their suprising answers were as mentioned below;
• Rural people are more prepared to participate when they feel the need for conservation
• Rural people make rational decisions in the context of their own environment and circumstances rather than those prescribed by the government or project staff
• Voluntary local commitment of labour , time, material and money to a conservation project is necessary condition for breaking patterns of conservation paternalism which reinforce local passivity and indifference
Therefore the community Participatory approaches should be used in any conservation projects as they are effective, cheap and easily controlled. On the other hand when seeking to promote the understanding and bring about greater community participation, the above three basic principles if adhered, will help to advance community participation within any conservational projects.
Civil Society Organizations; international, national and local should highly intergrate participatory approaches in developing and implementing their programme/projects for effective outputs hence influencing the contribution of natural resources for better achievement of Millenium Development Goals, Vision 2025 and other National Development strategies in our country.
Written by; Deodatus Kiriba-YET 2011
Reviewed by; Victoria Maeda, ASSISTANT TRAINING OFFICER FOR CSOS PROGRAMME, WWF-TCO