Project puts youth in vanguard of post-tsunami redevelopment
Building a sustainable future for coastal communities from the bottom up
22 January 2008, Rome/Banda Aceh - Youth from tsunami-affected fishing villages of four districts of the west coast in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) Province in Indonesia will be trained as "community motivators" (Motivator Masyarakat) to help promote sound management of the coastal fisheries upon which the province relies.
The initiative forms part of a larger 3.5 year, $7.5 million post-tsunami recovery and development project financed by the American Red Cross and undertaken in partnership with Indonesia's fisheries agency, the Dinas Kelautan dan Perikanan (DKP).
The Motivator Masyarakat will work to raise awareness among fishers regarding responsible natural resource use and serve as a bridge between their villages, traditional fishing leaders known as Panglima Laôt and local DKP offices.
The ultimate goal is to promote what is known in development circles as "co-management" of Aceh's coastal fisheries -- in which responsibility for properly managing and utilizing local fish stocks is shared between communities, local fishing interests, and district and national government authorities.
Building individual and collective capacities
Starting this week, the first group of 25 Motivator Masyarakat are participating in an 18-day training session being held at a fisheries school operated by the Republic of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) in working relationship with Aceh province's DKP.
Training covers a number of areas, with one key focus being fisheries management. It will familiarize them with a range of subjects including fishing technology, species identification, resource conservation and management methods, aquaculture, and post-harvest handling and marketing of fish. Another priority will be community organizing techniques, and skills like public speaking, data collection and analysis and mapping will also be covered.
By June 2008 the project aims to train an additional 175 community motivators from Aceh's four western districts (Aceh Besar, Aceh Jaya, Aceh Barat and Nagan Raya).
Selection of additional candidates is now underway. But rather than being picked by FAO, the Motivator Masyarakat are being chosen by village councils in their own communities.
"This means that the youth who are selected will feel a strong obligation to their villages, who in turn will feel accountable for helping them perform and ensuring that they follow through," explains FAO's John Kurien, who is coordinating the effort. "We will be getting good information and strong cooperation from the communities, because our eyes and ears and hands on the ground there will be people they know, from families they trust -- fellow fisherfolk."
Working towards co-management
One of the key contributions the Motivator Masyarakat will make is to gather information on local fishing capacities, practices, and production levels. Such information is crucial for good management, but is often missing in Aceh, a problem which pre-dated the tsunami, Kurien says.
The Motivator Masyarakat will also help organize awareness-raising and educational activities, workshops and discussion groups on responsible and modern fisheries management.
Further down the line, they will also be involved in helping work with communities to sort out post-harvest issues and, where feasible, establish credit unions and group marketing initiatives.
"Their activities will evolve as the motivators provide us with feedback from the communities. We want to respond to the needs that people have, when they express them," notes Nukman Basyir Affan, Senior Community Facilitator with FAO in Banda Aceh.
As the number of motivators grows, they will be networked within their districts, and each district network will hold monthly follow-up meetings with FAO staff.
And the Motivator Masyarakat will also interact regularly with the Panglima Laôt as well as with regional and national government officials.
The idea, says Kurien, is to establish networks of communication and collaboration between these different sectors that will endure long after FAO and the American Red Cross have wrapped up their activities in 2010.
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