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3. Recommendations

3.1 General recommendations
3.2 Specific recommendations

The recommendations which follow extend beyond the scope of the actual workshop and discuss the present relations between the local inhabitants in the project area and project staff.

In the course of the first four days of visiting, it became clear that the local inhabitants have very little information or understanding of the project or its aims. A few rumours were circulating about the wildlife reserve and the animals that were to be introduced into it, but in general, there was little interest in either activity and only the ‘knowledge’ that more rangeland had been removed from them. This is potentially a very dangerous situation as it could, if not addressed seriously, affect the long-term sustainability of the present international project once funding ceases.

On the side of the government there is little experience with the concept of local participation. Each of the cooperative organizations regards itself as extending services to its members upon request. Its members, however, perceive it as only a source of government subsidized feed. Contact between the cooperative administration and cooperative members seems to be rigidly hierarchical with cooperative leaders and their deputies, bridging the divide in government offices. A further discrepancy is in the site specific aspects of membership. Most of the cooperative members are Bedouin herders, who are only physically present in the region for about half of the year. When they return to the region in early winter, they are accompanied by many other herding families who are members of cooperatives in other regions of the Syrian badia. These migration patterns have been in existence for decades if not centuries and reflect traditional patterns of tribal usufruct in the region. Membership in cooperatives is only several decades old, many of the local Bedouin inhabitants having joined in the beginning of the 1970s.

3.1 General recommendations

It is recommended that:

1. The Bedouin sheep and camel herders found in the project area must be informed of project activities. This must include members of the three local cooperatives (Munbateh, Arak, and Abbassiya) as well as non-members, or members of cooperatives in other regions of the badia.

2. Project staff must make a concerted effort to better understand the needs and requirements of this migratory population. Continuous participatory research will be required to achieve this goal. Furthermore, careful note-taking and record-keeping of significant variables in the life of this community needs to be part of the effort.

3. The camel herding Bedouin belonging to a special camel herders Cooperative, and who have been most significantly dispossessed of grazing land (Talila), need to be the special focus of participatory research. This is particularly crucial for the future of the Wildlife Reserve.

4. The participatory research recommended above is of no significance unless it is officially regarded as the first step leading to the active participation of the local Bedouin and the members of the Munbateh, Arak, Abbassiya and special the camel Cooperative in the planning and implementation of activities for the Rangelands Development Project and the Wildlife Reserve.

3.2 Specific recommendations

1. The Rangelands Development Project needs to strengthen its extension programme so as to be able to carry out on-going participatory research at all times, which is documented and available for study. It can do this in a number of ways:

· It can recruit a full-time graduate with training in participatory research to head its existing team, ensuring that participatory research is a continuous and on-going part of project activities.

· It can continue with on-site training with PRA workshops every six months. Within a year of such workshops, it should be possible for the local staff to start training others in the project and in associated government units.

· It can prioritize further training abroad and in Syria in PRA. Courses are occasionally held at ICARDA near Aleppo and at CARDNE in Amman. Numerous courses are held throughout the year in Europe and in the United States, but these require a degree of proficiency in English which members of the project staff may not yet have attained.

2. The Wildlife Reserve faces the most immediate and serious problems due to the uncompromising nature of its exclusion of the local inhabitants. It can begin to overcome these difficulties by:
· enrolling its personnel in PRA training both locally and abroad and using that training to learn and share knowledge with the local herders.

· encouraging its employees to educate the local Bedouin as to the aims and goal of the Project

· using participatory research methods set up a programme to record indigenous knowledge of the plants, shrubs and wildlife in the reserve and on its margins. Such knowledge should be recorded and kept available for others to study. This may require the hiring of a university graduate for a minimum of one year, or may be possible through a series of shorter term consultancies.

· setting up study visits to the Yalouni White Oryx in the Sultanate of Oman. Although the nature of local participation in the Omani Oryx wildlife reserve (Yalouni) is far from ideal, it is superior to similar projects in Jordan and Egypt. There, at least, the local inhabitants are active members of the programme monitoring the Oryx.

· setting up a programme to monitor the oryx and gazelle upon their release into the larger enclosure. This monitoring would require the hiring of a minimum of 8 rangers who should all be BEDOUIN from the camel Cooperative that has been displaced from the Talila reserve.

3. A second PRA workshop should be held in late September/early October, 1997 to carry on the lessons from this past introductory PRA workshop. The workshop would focus on the specific problems which the Project faces in trying to integrate the members of the camel herding Cooperative into their activities. As the only population to be specifically displaced, their Cooperation is particularly crucial. Successful participatory interaction with this limited group may prove to be the catalyst required to set relations with the other Bedouin in the project area on a positive course.

4. Specific schemes which would help create an atmosphere of greater trust and could lead to greater cooperation with the Project:

· opening a wildlife veterinary clinic to which the local inhabitants could bring their domestic sheep, goat and camel.

· setting up a scheme to purchase seeds from local inhabitants

· permitting the collection of kameh in Talila by the local Bedouin

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