Watershed management and mountains
Participatory Community Development Programme for Toirsu Valley Watershed, Tajikistan
Based on experiences and lessons learned from TCP/TAJ/2903 (A), the FAO Forestry Department’s Forests and Water Programme was entrusted with implementing the Toirsu watershed project, which is part of a larger community development programme funded by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Four agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP) and German Agro Action (GAA) – were contracted through a Project Management Unit (PMU) to implement the programme in selected watersheds in four oblasts (provinces).
Photo © Thomas Hofer / FAOThe project was implemented in Dangara district, southeast Tajikistan, where a combination of clement temperatures, high altitude and wise - if limited - management of water resources could provide a reasonable range of farming options for local livelihoods, as long as local resources and the effects that farming practices have on their sustainability are well understood. The fairly extensive Toirsu valley floor is surrounded by numerous small sub-catchments, providing a good setting for applying a watershed approach to community-based development. The project ran from August 2006 to March 2010, including athree-month no-cost extension, which was approved by the donors in December 2009.
Communities in Tajikistan follow a decision-making system characterized by collective action through traditional leadership structures. Although the leaders of traditional community institutions are elected, decision-making seldom involves village-wide discussions. A few elite members of the village influence the decisions that affect all villagers, and women are often excluded from the process. Community needs assessments are therefore influenced by powerful groups, resulting in the benefits of development going mainly to the rich and influential.
The project was implemented in six jamoats (sub-districts) of Danghara district, with two main objectives:
The project consisted of four components:
Photo © Iee Hughes/ FlickrFollowing a mid-term review of the project in 2009, a whole series of experience sharing and exchange visits were organized with the three other facilitating agencies in the remaining three provinces; extensive lessons learned and best practices were summarized in a separate report using an external consultant. Similarly, in September/October 2009, two community mobilization experts were hired through the MSDSP to review the community organizations an to advise on improvements (December 2009 to February 2010).
The project could have benefited from improved coordination efforts, especially between the facilitating agencies working in their respective districts. The donor and the PMU originally assumed that these four facilitating agencies would try different approaches adapted to each agro-ecological zone (four different pilots), then analyze the outcomes at the end of the project and agree on common approaches to watershed management. The exchange visits during 2009 initiated by FAO encouraged facilitating agencies to exchange experiences and make use of each other’s approaches. At the end of the three-month exchange cycle, a national workshop was organized by FAO in Dushanbe with the four facilitating agencies, local authorities from the four project areas as well as national representatives of the Government of Tajikistan and donor agencies. This was followed by a similar workshop between major donor agencies and the PMU to agree on the development of a national model for watershed management. Although this objective could not be achieved by the closure of the project at the end of March 2010, the World Bank and the PMU will undertake a series of post-monitoring missions in the project areas and will develop a national standard concept by the end of 2010.