3.1 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
3.2 SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS
The target community for the project is not a homogenous group. It consists of groups of people who are members of the government-established cooperatives, and others who are not. All make use of the area of Mumbateh, Arak and Abbasiyeh at one time or another. One group, however, is part of a special community, but not a land-based, cooperative and this group is the camel herding Sbaa lineage that is found most of the year around Taalilah, an area they have traditionally laid claim to. This group has a coherence which the project might consider taping into to create a pilot project of sorts for the land management within Taalilah of a specific user group. As this group herds mainly camels and maintains only small subsistence sheep herds, it may be possible to establish a plan for joint management of the Taalilah reserve which this group finds meets their interests and those of the project. During this workshop the camel herders were informed of the workshop and they did attend during the morning of the first day. They might have returned on the second and third day of the workshop had transportation been provided for them as it was for the other Bedouin participants.
The earlier workshop had identified eco-tourism as an area where the Bedouin had common interests with the project. It would be useful, therefore, if the Bedouin, both camel and sheepherders, could be drawn into discussions on the formation of user groups, some of which might have as a focus the development of limited eco-tourism in Taalilah. This might mean an emphasis on winter activities when tourism is not overwhelming. A few select group of tourists could be brought out from Palmyra to Taliilah each day on Bedouin or project transport to appreciate the hot spring, and to view a few of the gazelle and oryx, ending with a visit to the project tent, manned on rotation by members of a newly established user group.
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 to the workshop throughout.
Relations with the Directorate of the Steppe and the Peasant Union remain very good. The willingness to work together to achieve the common goal of preserving and conserving the rangeland with the cooperation of its various users was particularly clear. The enthusiasm for using participatory learning and action as a process for creating sustainable conservation and development was also clearly manifested.
For all the participants, the workshop revealed useful and practical information and developed skills of relevance to their work. What was not clear to everyone was what role the project staff would have in forming user groups. This point was discussed at the workshop and at the wrap up session. Both facilitators made it clear that the reason for being given training in group formation was not so as to form groups themselves, but so as to be able to assist those who are identified as users in forming groups which could then work with the project with the aim of preserving and conserving the rangeland. Some of these groups might be income generating, and others might be based on sustainable land use practices.
It is vital that the Project be able to identify who are the users of the rangelands that form the project area. It is now accepted that the users are more than the members of the three sheep (plus the one camel cooperative) cooperatives of the Peasant Union as well as the residents of Arak village. However before any further workshop on group formation can be considered, it is vital that a study of land use in the region be conducted. It would be particularly important that such a study be conducted soon, in the coming month or two and extend until the early spring. Such a study over four or five months would give the researcher adequate information upon which to base findings.
Once a land tenure study had established the users of this part of the Badia, a second workshop in a series of workshops on group formation and conflict resolution could be set up, for the benefit of the Project staff, the Cooperatives of the Peasant Union and the Ministry of Agriculture along with the Bedouin facilitators and other users.
A follow-up workshop dealing only with management of conflict could be organized for only project staff prior to the workshop mentioned above. But such a workshop would have to be limited to the small in-house group of Project staff and its purpose would be to provide the staff with more skills and tools to deal with the conflicts which are, inevitably going to arise in their efforts to encourage the Bedouin to form user groups in association with the Project, the Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The female extension workers have made great strides in their work with a limited number of Bedouin women. This has been in the training and transfer of skills which might lead to income generating activities. This work is to be commended and encouraged. It is recommended, furthermore, that the extension team pursue the possibility of encouraging the piloting of a Bedouin literacy tent. This should be possible as a government run literacy unit is established in Palmyra. But it requires some interest and energy from outside to get running. From my discussions with the female extension workers, it became obvious that literacy training was a priority for Bedouin women. It would be an achievement to see set up at least one pilot literacy course for Bedouin women thorough the intervention and perhaps good offices of the Projects extension service.
The Project team as a whole has made considerable strides in English language acquisition. Their level of fluency is rising considerably and their training needs to be maintained so as to reach a level where translation will no longer be necessary, except in the most complicated of discussions. Further English Language training needs to continue to be given priority in order to maintain and improve the proficiency they have worked so hard to establish.