Table of ContentsNext Page

Introduction to the Sourcebook

This training sourcebook has come to into being at the special request of an FAO - Italian government initiative in the Syrian desert. The project to which much of this sourcebook owes its existence is the " Range Rehabilitation and Establishment of a Wildlife Reserve in the Syrian Steppe" project. The request for it was initiated after a series of participatory workshops - four in all between 1997 and 2000 - had been conducted in the project area. It is, therefore, very much based on the activities field-tested in the Syrian workshops and on the lessons learned from that process. It also draws on the experiences of the authors, and others, in a variety of pastoral regions of the world.

Over the course of the four years during which time these participatory workshops were run, an incremental, step-by-step process was developed to complement the project’s field implementation process by introducing and integrating the concepts and principles of participatory work into the thinking, planning and management of the project. This ‘learning by doing’ strategy and the emphasis on shifting between class room theoretical work and active, practice in the field with project staff and local facilitators were a key elements contributing to the success of the endeavour.

The consolidated sourcebook provides guidance how participatory processes in co-management of natural resources might be encouraged and promoted at the field level.

Building on the specific and organic experience of introducing participatory processes in an environment previously inexperienced in these contemporary concepts, the sourcebook outlines a progressive and sequential set of skills which proved to be useful in promoting both technical and sociological skills required to enhance a participatory process. The approach described combines the introduction of different sets of techniques and exercises (related to participatory attitudes, PRA methods and tools, planning skills, facilitation, forming groups, and managing conflict) with the idea of process guidance and coaching of project staff in their daily work of creating a process of participatory and collaborative management of natural resources.

Participatory and collaborative approaches in natural resource management have become an urgent undertaking in recent years. This is due to a number of related factors. Experience has shown that conventional approaches of top-down controlled management to natural resources has been largely unsuccessful and has often led to increased degradation of natural resources. In many parts of the world governments are increasingly seeking more progressive and participative approaches to governance in general, as well as in the field of natural resource management. Many non-government organisations, indigenous groups and local stakeholders all over the world are raising their demands for adequate participation in decision-making which affects their livelihoods and the exploitation and management of the natural resources in the areas which they traditionally inhabit. In some parts of the world, international pressure to accept structural adjustment programmes as part of a strategy to decentralise governance and administration has provided fertile ground for local level participation. Finally, many international organisations and bilateral development agencies operating in the Middle East are encouraging participatory approaches to natural resource management based on positive and successful field experiences in other regions of the world.

Although there has been a concerted effort at the higher levels of governance and management to integrate participation into natural resource management, these conceptual themes are often not successfully handed down to local level authorities and extension workers who need to put into action what had previously been only ideas. The transformation from an authoritarian and technocratic approach of management style to a participatory and inclusive working style is not easy nor it is straightforward. In most cases there is good will on all sides to try to make this change work. However, what is often lacking is the necessary skills to make a change in attitudes and approaches possible.

Objectives and Target Audiences of the Sourcebook

This source book in which the ‘training and process‘ approach is paramount, maintains a holistic strategy. It brings together technical tools, sociological skills and field practice. It is hoped that those who study and possibly use this book will be able to enhance their capacity: to promote the process of increased participation in co-management of natural resources; to guide and facilitate such processes; and to plan and implement capacity building measures in natural resource management.

Having studied and applied in a way adapted to the user’s own situation the different phases of training, consultation and field practice which this source book suggests, the user should be able to recognise the importance of careful planning of important steps in the process of increasing participation in co-management. He or she should have acquired practical experience in the application of the participatory method in the context of natural resource management. Furthermore she or she should have become familiar with the participatory training approach and have secure knowledge in key principles, attitudes, methods and tools common to participatory methods. Finally the user should have grasped the basic concepts of group formation and self-management, and become familiar with some basic concepts and tools of alternative conflict management.

This sourcebook is designed for those who plan to introduce and promote participation in the context of natural resource management, particularly in pastoral areas of the Middle East. In general, it is assumed that those using this source book will have already had some training and exposure to participatory approaches. Those with no prior experience to such approaches may still find it useful. The primary target audience for this sourcebook, however, is the technical officers within local and regional level government offices, workers from local and national NGOs, representatives of local stakeholders, staff of projects working in natural resource management, extension workers, and other individuals committed to enhancing participatory processes in their surroundings

How to use this sourcebook

This source book is built around a carefully set out series of steps which integrate training with process. The source book is built upon the pedagogic philosophy of iterative learning whereby a concept or a tool is introduced at an early stage, and then returned to later on with further elaboration. This repetitive, but expansive, approach is fundamental to this work. In addition the sourcebook encourages continuous consultation and a ‘learning by doing’ approach. It encourages participatory training, by using participation as a tool throughout. It offers no definitive blueprint. Instead it presents suggestions and guidance on how to develop concepts which can then be adapted to the specific contexts of the users.

This introductory chapter provides the background for the manual and an elaboration of the conceptual aspects of the participatory process. The four modules which follow are designed as training guides:

Module I

Preparing for Training and Facilitating.

Module II

Introducing Participatory Approaches, Methods and Tools.

Module III

Introducing Skills and Techniques to Promote Group Formation.

Module IV

Introducing Skills and Techniques to Assist in Alternative Conflict Management.

Module I provides specifically ‘training of trainer‘ skills including planning of training sessions, and facilitating and moderating events. It is felt that the Module I is most appropriate to experienced trainers and facilitators. The remaining modules can be used most effectively by less experienced individuals as well as specialist trainers.

Module II focuses on introducing the key principles, attitudes and behaviour required in participatory processes. It details participatory tools and techniques. Module III gives emphasis on planning skills, an in particular on skills and techniques required to promote group formation. Module IV finally supports the elaboration of basic concepts, skills and techniques necessary to anticipate and assist in conflict management approaches.

All modules are made up of a number of sessions, each tackling a specific key issue and representing a specific proposal for a training strategy on how to impart the respective topic. Most sessions consist of several parts:

The ‘proposed training strategies’ serve two purposes. First, they lay out training materials and ideas for the participatory training event. Trainers or facilitators may pick out those suggestions which fit into his/her own training concepts. Second, these strategies offer a structured sequence of training activities and steps within each session. The less experienced trainer may find that following this consistent and complete training approach is useful. Within the sections ‘training strategy’ users will find exercises labelled as ‘eye-openers’ and ‘energizers’. Users are encouraged to use and place these exercises as flexibly as they find it most convenient. The appendices offer additional exercises. Between sessions is sometimes a most appropriate place to use ‘energizers’, though there may be situations when an ‘energizer’ is particularly suitable in the middle of a session to lift up flagging interest, or to break up a difficult set of tasks.

The users of this source book are strongly encouraged to modify, change and add to the proposals which follow. Each training situation has its own special circumstances and special context. The authors of this sourcebook hope that it will provide useful inspiration and guidance, but not necessarily a rigidly followed text. The source book users are encouraged to use their imagination, and careful assessment of the mood of their training session participants when deciding whether to follow the source book suggestions, or deciding to improvise to best fit the specific situation they find themselves in.

Top of Page Next Page