1.1 CONSULTANCY OBJECTIVES
1.2 WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES, METHODS AND AGENDA
The report details the results of a 12 day mission for the Range Rehabilitation and Establishment of a Wildlife Reserve Project (GCP/SYR/003/ITA) carried out between September 20th and September 30th 1999. During this period a 4 day PRA-based training workshop was conducted in group formation and management, communications, decision-making and conflict resolution. The workshop was held between September 26th and September 29th at Palmyra and at Taliila. The training team consisted of the author of this report and Stephan Baas, Poverty Alleviation Officer, SDAR, FAO. The workshop was conducted in English and Arabic and focussed on reinforcing the project staffs skills, introducing PRA to a wider audience - in particular to the Bedouin extension facilitators who had been identified by project staff earlier - and on exposing the participants to new tools and processes which could encourage group formation and maintenance. For the first three days, the workshop was held in a goat-hair tent set up on the margin of Taliila. Participants included the Projects Extension staff, Wildlife Unit, and Rangeland Unit, the Ministry of Agricultures Agronomy Unit, Extension Services and Steppeland Directorate as well as the Cooperatives Organizations of the Peasant Union. Six Bedouin facilitators identified by the projects Extension Unit as well as eight Bedouin members of the Camel Cooperative also attended (the latter for only one day). In addition three representatives from the IFAD project - Badia Development Project - were present. A list of participants is included in Annex I. On the fourth day, assessment and evaluative discussions as well as a final wrap-up session with the CTA and the Project staff took place in the project office in Palmyra. A fifth day in the workshop programme was considered too long for the project staff and other participants.
The Minister of Agriculture expressed great interest in the workshop and specifically requested that the number of participants be doubled from the provincial and local offices of the Ministry. This request created a significant challenge for the workshop facilitators as it meant that some participants would have little if any knowledge or experience in PRA (those who had not attended previous workshops) while others would be well experienced and relatively knowledgeable. This challenge was meet and all Ministry of Agriculture participants remained engaged and attentive throughout the workshop.
The representation of women in the workshop has improved considerably from the first two workshops. Women as members of the project team, Ministry of Agriculture employees, and as Bedouin facilitators made up nearly a quarter of the participants on the first day of the workshop. Though a few had to leave at the end of the first day, the remaining women took an active part in discussion and contributed actively to the workshop.
This consultancy was a follow-up to two previous workshops (April, September 1997) designed to introduce participatory research tools and techniques into the work of the project staff and other concerned specialists. Its main objective was to set in motion the participatory process which would be required in order to assist the local inhabitants of the area to form user groups whose main concern would be to protect and conserve the resources of the rangeland and to encourage sustainable development.
The terms of reference specified the preparation and facilitation of a five day workshop on PRA and other participatory techniques/methods related to the topics: group formation and management, conflict resolution and decision making. It also specified that the workshop would be designed as a direct follow-up to the two previous workshops. Its specific objectives included:
a. to provide advance training for the project staff, selected representatives from project counterpart organizations and Bedouin extension facilitators in the application of PRA tools and techniques relevant to their work with a focus on the topics named above.
b. to provide a forum for discussion on project relevant issues among workshop participants.
This follow-up workshop used a training approach developed during the two earlier workshops and incorporated the lessons learned over the two intervening years. It focused on PRA based techniques and tools for community communication, assessment and involvement. It aimed at creating an awareness about the projects approach to fully involve local community members - as user groups - in all phases of the projects implementation.
The objectives of the workshop were:
a. to introduce and discuss the basic concepts, principles and approaches to group formation, group management, decision making and conflict resolution.All the exercises and techniques which were used in the workshop were selected on the basis of their suitability for the project staff and extension facilitators to use in their work with the local community. Thus this workshop can also be considered a kind of Training for Trainers workshop.
b. to present and practice PRA techniques and exercises which would help the project staff and extension facilitators to introduce the above concepts and approaches at community level.
c. to refresh and recapitulate for new participants some of the PRA techniques and methods learned during the previous workshops, enriching them with practical examples and exercises.
The training approach used in this workshop was a continuation of that developed earlier in 1997. All the original participants attended (in addition to some 20 new participants as stated in the introductory section). The atmosphere was informal and relaxed. Seating was on rugs and carpets in a large guest goat-hair tent belonging to the Project. A singularly informal and unheirarchical atmosphere prevailed. An informal, engaged and intense interaction between and among participants and facilitators was maintained throughout the three days. A sub-theme of team work, team contract and self-assessment was also maintained throughout and is recommended as an important strategy not only for all future workshops, but also for on-going research and extension activities of the project staff.
The agenda (Annex II) was followed quite closely. Only on day two was one of the trainers unable to take part due to illness. As in the earlier workshops, concepts and tools were introduced in plenary and then practiced in exercises conducted in small groups after which a plenary session would discuss the lessons learned from the exercises. At the end of the three days, a consensus was reached as to the importance of carrying on with further training once a clear understanding of who are the users in the region had been achieved through careful study. It was suggested that two further workshops could be held which would go further into depth to address the constraints and issues which the project might face in the process of establishing user groups. The fourth day of the workshop was set aside for project staff to analyze and express their views on the workshop and to consider their role in stimulating the formation of user groups in the near future. A fifth day to the workshop programme was ruled out due to the time constraints facing most participants.