PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN WATERSHED DEVELOPMENT BY SETTLERS
Soil and water conservation activities are under taken under various agro-ecological and socio-economic circumstances, in different parts of the World. However, for a multitude of reasons farmers do not generally engage on their own in investment in soil and water conservation. In the more advanced economies farmers may sometimes take initiative, but in most cases they are stimulated to do so as a result of specific government policies, direct incentiveness on participation in specific projects. When the seriousness of the erosion problem was realised in Uganda, in the 1950's, government took the initiative and for along time they followed a top-down approach in the design and implementation of soil conservation projects and programmes. Many of these failed. Usually the priorities and capabilities of the land users were insufficiently considered in the preparation and execution of such projects or programmes.
Uganda government has now come to realise that proper implementation of such activities depend on the acceptance by and full participation of the population, so that soil conservation and reforestation activities become less dominated by regulations. There is a shift towards "protect and produce" including less direct soil conservation related activities (e.g. promoting tree crops) and the measures are accompanied incentives (e.g. subsidies) or by rural development "starter" activities (e.g. drinking water supply) to incite farmers to participate. In other words conservation has gradually evolved into regional development activities using "watershed activities"
This paper depicts a case study taken from Ankole Ranching Scheme of Mbarara District in South-West Uganda. In this area 900 families who are former nomads, were allocated land in 1995 and are being assisted to live sustainably on their pieces of land. Assistance is given by a project implemented by the District using above policies, with technical assistance from German Government through GTZ. The project has succeeded in its activities by use of "gender sensitive participatory extension approaching", clear ideas about self-help and extension philosophy, a lot of experiences with community mobilisation, awareness creation and focusing self-help support extension needs, fairly well worked procedures ("action plans") and technical recommendations ("fact sheets") for priority self-help and extension activities.
Until recently a total of four different ministries have been involved in watershed management in Uganda. The new ministry of Natural Resources has been vested with overall coordination of these activities. The major objectives of watershed management in Uganda are:- Improving hydrological conditions, controlling soil erosion, increasing land productivity and farm income and improving people's attitude towards natural resource management of the land, management of the water resources and community development.
The "Integrated Pastoral Development Project (IPDP) " aims at enabling 900 settler families to sustainably satisfy their basic needs from their own resources, working within the government policy. The "Mbarara district council" and GTZ are in charge of project implementation from the Uganda and Germany side respectively.
The following major problems were the main rational for planning and implementing the project:
- the social organisation of the settlers is not yet developed to extent, allowing the planning and implementation of necessary communal activities.
- after settling, the need for massive destocking (about 50%) became apparent to sustain the natural basis of the land.
-the existing agricultural extension services do neither have a systematic extension approach nor situation specific technical recommendations for the settler.
- water supply for the settlers in most of the area is not secured during the dry season.
- the settlers do not have enough basic knowledge about plant production to grow the necessary crops for their living (plant production is new for them).
The project activities, therefore, focus on those problem areas by supporting farmers in planning and implementing self help projects (water and sanitation, income generating activities for women groups) and in giving technical advice in the fields of plant production, agro-forestry, animal husbandry and health. Material support is limited to the absolute minimum. The project was therefore, planned as a self help and extension project already from the early planning stages.
2.0 Overall self-help and extension philosophy:
The following sections describe the guiding principal and help and extension work, the principle elements of situation specific self help and extension approach for the settler communities within Ankole Ranching Scheme, and the projected targets and adoption rates.
2.1 Guiding principles:
Experiences with self-help and extension approaches World-wide show that one of the basic pre-conditions for successful extension work is that self-help and extension efforts are geared towards the needs of the target groups and based on self help efforts as much as possible. This implies close cooperation between extension staff and the target group, as priority needs can only be identified during effective communication of their priority projects or extension support needs has, therefore become a principle for self-help and extension efforts world-wide.
In case of the Bahima-settlers, it is on top of this, necessary to have particular attention for the women, as they lose their major income when settling due to socio-economic reasons. Those are the reasons why a gender-sensitive participatory self-help and extension approach was planned from the early planning stages.
2.2 Principle elements and steps:
As self help and extension approach describes all the principles elements and steps important for effective extension work and their interaction between each other. As a first element, the target group has to be made aware of the project existence and the project has to find out the priority needs of the target groups where support is needed. The element/step is called here "mobilising, awareness creation and focusing extension needs".
The priority extension need are the basis for developing specific measures and suitable procedures/methods for the communication between extension worker and farmer while supporting the self-help process by extension staff.
2.3 Projected targets and adoption rate:
The project targets have yet been specified only up to the end of the second phase (June 2000). It is to the planned that up to this point time.
- 40 community infrastructure projects are identified, 25 planned and 25 completed (including maintenance committees and agreements)
- all settles are reached by extension services.
- at least 30 interest groups are formed and cooperating with the project (IPDP)
- adoption rate of interest groups members is at least 75% within one year and
- at least 70% of the settlers have started at least two activities other than cattle keeping.
3.0 Focusing self-help and extension support activities:
It is important that the target groups know the approximate frame for support i.e. the range of support the project can offer and what kind of support would be completely outside the projects reach.
The second step with the community aims at deciding about priority projects to be tackled first and developing ideas about timing of implementation and needed support outside.
3.1 Needs Assessment:
The aim of this step is to find out people's priority support needs. Particular attention is given to the needs of women. The results of the need assessment are used as an entry point for the second meeting with the communities.
By first meeting project sub-team and the communities get to know each other better and get a first impression of each other. The communities express their field of interest in project support and the project can find out what is primary needed in each of the communities. At the same time they will find out which community is most ready for planning and implementing self help projects an with which community the protect should continue in the first place.
3.2 Interest group formation:
The third meeting to a community is not planned by a complete mobilisation teams but only those members of the team who are specialists in the priority field of support which has been decided during the second community meeting.
In case of community self help projects (e.g. water and sanitation) usually the interest group will be the whole community.
In case of extension projects the interest groups are usually those men/women, who are particularly interested to get specific advise in growing certain crops, establishing a woodlot or getting advice concerning control of soil erosion.
Suitable self help and extension procedures, technical recommendations and methods have been developed for each of the fields of intervention separately to suit a particular demand of the interest group and of the subject matters concerned.
4.0 Technical Recommendation:
The action plan for a self-help or extension project delineates the logical sequence of steps necessary to give profound advice to the interest groups on the planning and implementation of their community self help and extension project. The action plan serves a guideline for the extension worker (and the communities/interest groups) to plan their activities property and be efficient in their cooperation with the interest groups. The action plans are the basis for the annual operational planning exercises and for elaborating the work plans for each project staff.
The action plan has to be seen as guideline and not as a fixed schedule. It has to be handled flexibly and to be the speed of the interest group and not the other way round.
4.2 The "fact sheet"
The "fact sheet" basically contain all information important for the settlers to plan and implement one of their self help and extension projects. The core of the fact sheets are the "technical recommendation". Those recommendations originate from the experience and knowledge of the officers in charge (and discussions about their knowledge with colleagues), from books, scientific research, external experts and the observation plots in Sanga station. Further cooperation with research institutions is foreseen for updating those recommendations according to the newest research results for the dry zone in Uganda and comparable regions in other countries.
The first part of the fact sheets is structured according to the different group meeting which are necessary to plan and implement the project, The second part contain additional important information.
4.3 The "Session outline"
For each important group meeting mentioned in the action plans an in the fact sheet, one " session outline" is developed. The session outlines are supposed to assist the extension worker during preparation and conduction of group extension meetings.
The session outlines are sort of agenda for the meeting specifying.
- preparatory needs for the meeting (reading through the files, materials to take, any other need for following etc.)
- the sequence of steps during the meeting and the methods to be used during step
- the extension aids to be used during each step
- reminders for necessary agreements and other important points to be discussed with settler communities during that meeting.
- Fixing date and content of the following meeting and
- summerising the major results and needs for following up before or during the next meeting.
It is generally acknowledged that the traditional soil and water conservation and/or watershed management projects, with their top-down orientation and emphasis on mechanical measures, have often failed. Farmers are not convinced about the usefulness of conservation measures and do not feel responsible for their maintenance.
Although farmer participation is of crucial importance, new soil conservation approaches should not focus too narrowly on the interests of present farmers, but also attention to other stakeholders e.g. future farmers and downstream communities. Sub-humid mountainous zones often offer good agro-ecological conditions for agriculture and a consequence have a high population density. This is very keen to participate in socio-forestry. These latter activities require much supervision and monitoring, without which reforestation efforts can easily lead to further deforestation.
1. Jan de Graff: The Price of Soil Erosion and economic evaluation of soil conservation and watershed development.
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