Posted September 2000
Consultant, 5839 Eagle Island, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V7W 1V6
Senior Officer (Sustainable Development), Environment and Natural Resources Service
FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome
The senior author served as project manager and consultant on the Kenya (1992) and Cambodia (1998) projects under the auspices of FAO. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of FAO. This paper was first published in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 18(2): 161-167, June 2000, Beech Tree Publishing, 10 Watford Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 2EP, The United Kingdom.
Related reading: Environmental Impact Assessment training in Kenya | Environmental Impact Assessment training in Cambodia
To support sustainable agriculture and rural development in Kenya and Cambodia, FAO carried out training for professionals with an emphasis on field situations and case studies. The participants were required to bring their most pressing environmental problems to the courses, in the form of a prepared case study. The majority of problems were in the category of chronic environmentally damaging agricultural and rural development practice.
The approach taken was to have the participants work in groups to fully understand the activity in question, then examine the cause/effect relationships, the options to mitigate the negative effects, and an action plan to present to decision-makers. The EIS format was used for reporting and presentation purposes.
This application of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) resulted in a substantial improvement in the understanding of each case and in the description of the solution to the problem in all 35 cases in Kenya and all 24 cases in Cambodia. This unanticipated use of EIA was a powerful tool for the analysis of ongoing activities. Whether or not it is a unique application, the approach has a large potential to improve agricultural and rural development practices in similar situations.
On a global scale, the agriculture sector is stressed by a host of factors, including economic and environmental ones. Although we have been able to keep the growth in total food production ahead of population growth during the last 20 years, some crops are not benefiting from the productivity gains of the past. The sector involves a large workforce and contributes substantially to GDP and foreign exchange accounts of most developing countries. During the past 15 years the sector has been faced with shifts in trade, low prices for many food commodities, and a much reduced government role. These forces have implications for the environment. Land degradation arising from inappropriate agriculture practices is of particular concern as it leads to resource depletion and eventually to lower farm incomes, especially among lower income farmers who have the fewest options available to them.
For the most part, agriculture and rural development have not benefited from systematic environmental analysis and management. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is seldom applied farm practices and rural development plans, as is the case for physical project planning (e.g. dams, roads, pipelines and industries). As a result, inadequate planning and inappropriate land use practices have persisted. As a consequence, in many regions, soil, land and water resources are used inefficiently or are degraded while poverty and income disparities grow.
Part of the challenge in extending environmental management to agriculture lies in the extensive nature of the sector - thousands of small land holders who cultivate over large areas of land. Individually, they are difficult to reach; and national policies have little practical context for these people. However, many governments still have agricultural, forestry, livestock, and sometimes environment officers in district offices that play an important role in working on a daily basis with farmers, small-scale industry and village groups. Despite isolation and low salaries, these officers frequently have rather high levels of commitment, motivation, and interest in finding ways to do their job more effectively.
It is against this background that FAO carried out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) training for ministry and district officers in Kenya and Cambodia with an emphasis on field work and case studies. The trainees were required to document their most pressing environmental problems and bring them to the course in the form of a prepared case study.
It was the expectation of the course planners and the trainers that most of the cases brought forward would be new projects that were still in the design phase; that is, problems which invite EIA to be employed to "anticipate and prevent" negative outcomes.
However the majority of problems turned out to be in the category of chronic environmentally damaging agricultural and rural development practices; that is, situations where there is a need to "react and repair" negative outcomes. This presented both a challenge and an opportunity for the trainers and the trainees.
This paper reports on how the situation was handled in both courses and how the EIA model was found to be a powerful analytical tool for addressing chronic environmental problems in agriculture. We briefly describe the experience in Kenya and in Cambodia, then discuss the common strengths and weaknesses of the findings, and offer suggestions on how the experience could be applied in similar situations elsewhere.
In 1992 the Government of Kenya (GOK) requested assistance from the FAO Representative to organize an EIA training initiative for their newly established District Environment Officers (DEOs). The project is described on the FAO website (1998). In 1992, Kenya was a country that received a considerable amount of external assistance in the agriculture and rural sector. It was relatively well developed in terms of its legal and regulatory structure, and the institutional structures and human capacity required supporting what was called a "de-centralized" planned economy. The highlights of the EIA training work were as follows:
There were 38 DEOs in 1992, tasked with the coordination of environmental planning and decision-making. They worked with district professional and technical staff, municipal councils, industry, farmers`cooperatives and individual farmers, educational institutions, and village elders.
Typically the DEO was a male senior officer with more than 10 years of administrative experience in several districts. The salary was equivalent to that of the District Commissioner, thus underlining the importance of the DEO position. Most hold university degrees in one of the social sciences (history, geography, sociology, government administration, economics, and education). A few had science degrees (chemistry). By virtue of having served as District Officers in administration in up to six districts each, they tended to have strong skills in working with people in rural areas and are effective in dealing with issues involving different interest groups.
In terms of staff, budget and leverage available to DEOs in their work, some generalities can be made. In district offices most or all of the following discipline specialists are on staff: agriculture, soil conservation, water, forestry, livestock, and public health. Engineering expertise is available from municipal councils. The DEOs operational budget is very small, thus their leverage comes mainly through advice and persuasion as decision-making responsibilities are vested in the District Commissioner and the District Development Committee, of which the DEO is a member. DEOs exert influence through activities with committees involving local town councils, educational institutions, industry, non-government organizations, and the public.
Careful land use planning and the allocation of plots together with agriculture extension training of farmers who have migrated from districts where practices are different can assist the in-migration and resettlement in Laikipidia.
The refuse collection and disposal project at Embu needs to be relocated to a site where a managed collection system and disposal site will be achievable and where compensation of land owners may be needed in order to acquire land for a landfill.Agricultural activities with chronic negative environmental effects
Severe gully erosion in the Nandi sugar plantation belt includes scores of gullies up to 7 meters deep and 20 meters wide on properties belonging to absentee landowners. The EIA presented several actions and mitigation measures ranging from shifts in land use, erosion control structures, and rehabilitation of degraded lands.
Deforestation of government forests in Kiwale District is caused by illegal fuelwood harvesting and charcoal production. The EIA pinpointed practical steps to shift the dependence on the natural forest for charcoal to other sources of wood and the necessary political will and local support required to make the changes over a realistic time frame.
Use of chemical in agriculture (mainly pesticides and ferilizers) warrants much closer study and management, particularly on intensively cultivated farms in small catchments. The EIA described a number of actions to reduce pollution, non-target mortality, and effects on farmers, as well as regulation of the licensing and sale of chemicals, and training in the handling and application of the products.
Popular elections had led to the formation of a coalition government that, although splintered, was able to maintain a basic level of civil order and governance. Due to the prolonged periods of civil instability, the institutional and administrative structures and procedures were still in their formative stages and human resources were still being developed. Despite this, there were trained agriculture, forestry, and rural development officers in the many of the main districts of the country.
In organizing the EIA training, an approach was used that was similar to that applied to Kenya. The project has been described on the FAO website (Duffy, 1999). The main steps and features were as follows:
A total of 50 trainees completed the one-week course. Two groups of 25 were trained. They were male and female professionals with a variety of backgrounds, including agronomy, plant protection, forestry, animal health, law, planning, agricultural economics, hydrology, fisheries, and financial planning.
The project benefited considerably from current EIA training which was being carried out in Cambodia by the Asian Development Bank. In addition to the documentation prepared under its project, many senior and junior professionals were already sensitized to EIA, its role in planning and the procedures used. Thus, there was a willingness in the ministries to learn more detail on how it could specifically be applied to the agriculture and rural sector.
Assigned casesRice paddy farming south of Phnom Penh
The purpose of this field case was to illustrate the pervasive problems of uninformed use of chemical fertilizers and the attendant environmental impacts and crop production effects. Two farmers served as resource persons together with provincial agronomists to discuss corrective measures used on well-managed farms.Pesticide use in a mixed vegetable farming area east of Phnom Penh
Pesticides which are sold without proper labeling and imported from neighboring countries are a severe problem in the farming areas surrounding Phnom Penh. Farmers in the study areas are becoming aware of the problems of over use and some have had exposure to extension training.
This field case provided a thorough briefing on the problems of indiscriminate sale of banned chemical pesticides from Vietnam and on the overuse of chemical sprays on food crops. At the case study site cabbage crops are sprayed with pesticide thirty times before harvest. The in-class EIS assignment provided a range of required actions, including pesticide licensing, product application instructions, and public awareness to guard human health.
Palm oil plantation development: a case for in-class solution in working groups. The case illustrated the conventional application of EIA to a proposed project, together with the completion of the EIS for the use of decision-makers. The trainees gained confidence in the traditional EIS model and worked through the solution to the recommendation stage.
Trainees' casesRural development cases
Abattoir locations and operations need to be reviewed against existing zoning and permit regulations for legal operations and against existing laws for illegal ones. Recommended pollution control measures are to be phased in by the MOE the MAFF and seriously polluting and hazardous operations need to be replanned and relocated.
Uncontrolled water well developments require the collaborative attention of community leaders, MOE, and MAFF to establish sustainable water supply systems by adding new wells and piping in sustainable locations, and subsequently closing down the problem facilities. A public awareness program must be maintained before, during and after this shift in supply sources.Agricultural activities with chronic negative environmental impacts
The improper use of chemical insecticides is very prevalent and some of the effects on soil, insects, birds, fish, and humans are well known. The case solutions described the illegal importation of these chemicals from Vietnam (with labeling and instructions in the Vietnamese language which is unintelligible to most Cambodians), and the lack of training that traders in insecticides have with respect to rates of application, recommended applicators and safety precautions for farm workers.
A number of mitigation measures were detailed including the creation of a pesticide control body in government, on-farm field demonstrations of the proper packaging, labeling and use of authorized chemicals, and wider training in Integrated Pest Management.
In both Kenya and Cambodia, the courses provided grounding in the principles, methods, and applications of EIA in the agriculture and rural development sectors. Trainees learned to analyze the cause/effect relationships and, working in groups, they examined the alternatives to proposals and to harmful on-going activities, as well as the options to solve the problems.
Even though both governments have not yet formally applied the EIA legislation and regulations, which are in process, some sporadic progress is being made. However, in no case has anyone questioned the value of developing groups of trained professionals with a sufficient knowledge and practice of EIA. As shown in earlier work in Mozambique (Duffy, 1992) it is clear that the EIA principles and techniques are very relevant and applicable in countries such as Kenya and Cambodia, which have experienced adversity and face enormous challenges (both financial and political) in forming and maintaining the human, institutional, and physical infrastructure needed to manage the development of a country.
In both countries, the training and case solutions confirmed that EIA is very useful in correcting ongoing environmentally degrading practices, just as the approach is useful in planning proposed projects. Since EIA is not offered in undergraduate curricula in most agriculture and resource management schools, the experience from these projects suggests that substantial benefits might arise from an introductory course for undergraduates, as well as systematic training of agriculture extension officers both in the classroom and on-site.The drawbacks of the EIA training
In both countries, EIA legislation and regulations are not yet in effect. During the courses it was a challenge for the participants to imagine how EIA could fold into the day-to-day work in their ministries or district offices. This situations was somewhat offset by officers who began to realize the potential power of having the appropriate data and information in hand to bolster their arguments for improved environmental management. The situation should improve further as the EIA requirement and procedures become better known in the government and the private sector. Important forces in promoting the application of EIA are international development agencies, many of which require EIA for certain, types of projects and are also interested in strengthening human and institutional capacity in this field.
Information gaps in EIA work and a lack of transparency and participation in the development planning process can hold up the delivery of a complete EIS. During the courses, it was important to use problem-solving strategies which recognize these constraints and work within them.
For some ministry or district staff, the EIA requirement can be seen as a demanding task that takes up precious time and resources or could place them in potential situations of conflict with some of their peers. Some participants may see this as a drawback until the positive results of a successful EIS are experienced in the subsequent decision-making and greater understanding of participatory methodologies and conflict resolution mechanisms are in place.
The EIA model has a useful place in the analysis of problems associated with chronic environmentally damaging practices in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and rural development. Persons who are already experienced in EIA know that when the process is applied to developing country agriculture, it seldom follows the classic model (screening, scoping, assessment, etc.), that key data and information are often lacking, and that transparency and participation can be improved. However, none of this undermines the fact that most nationally or internationally supported development projects have some form of a step-wise process, legal or informal, in which EIA can be used to identify or mitigate negative impacts and improve project effectiveness.
Even the poorest countries seem to understand that economic and social benefits can arise when environmental management principles are applied, such as are found in EIA.
The four courses delivered the expected outputs for an introductory one-week EIA course. A total of 87 professional officers were trained in the basics of EIA using a combination of both formal and non-formal approaches which features field trips, seminar/lecture, working group case work, and simulated technical public hearings before decisions-makers.
The course model and its training material should be formally documented for use by other groups (e.g. training institutes) and expanded toward use in other countries based on field applications and at national ministries. This could be easily done using the existing course materials and identifying appropriate resource persons. The model may have usefulness for undergraduate training programs in agriculture, resource management, and rural development.
By working through 35 cases in Kenya and 24 cases in Cambodia, the respective trainee groups benefited from the repetitive use of the EIA model in solving a variety of problems, including both the conventional proposed project scenario, and the solution of chronic environmental problems. The solutions were presented in simulated technical hearings, giving strong reinforcement in the use of the model as a problem-solving tool. Future training could include more emphasis on the spatial aspects of environmental analysis. This would not necessarily require geographic information system capacity so much as it would be useful in identifying strategic choices and options and giving a different spatial context to what is often tabular or textual data and information.
Although opportunities are infrequent at present, follow up training with the same target groups would be highly beneficial in embedding and extending the knowledge and practice of EIA.
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Appendix 1: Course schedule for Kenya project
Appendix 2: Case studies, Kenya
Appendix 3: Course schedule for the Cambodia project
Appendix 4: Case studies for CambodiaAppendix 1
Evening registration, welcome, briefing, and reception.
Field trip in a.m. Domestic water supply dam, reservoir and adjacent land use.
Field trip feedback in p.m.
Global context on the environment
DEO's prepared problem statements: review and discussion.
Principles of EIA in agriculture and rural development
Policy and legal framework for EIA in Kenya
p.m. Public involvement: Case examples with resource person
Methodology and Guidelines
Resource information retrieval in Kenya, with resource person
Field trip to Kaptagat Forest in a.m.
p.m. Case Study Solution on field trip topic
evening: DEO feedback panel commenting on the course
Review of EIA imperatives
Small groups working on DEO cases
p.m. Field trip to successful catchment management project
Group presentations on DEO cases. Simulated technical public hearings
p.m. Plenary discussion
Evening: Presentation ceremony.
Course introduction and the EIA Process
Basic ecological principles
EIA legislation and decrees, in preparation.
Trainees` problem statements from the workplace.
Field Trip # 1 Rice paddy cultivation.
EIA in rural resources management.
Methodology and Guidelines.
Case study # 1/Field trip # 1 : Working group solutions.
Case study # 2 in class: Palm Oil Plantation Establishment.
Field Trip # 2: Mixed farming area.
Case Study # 3: field trip # 2. Working Group solutions.
Review of EIA main points
p.m. Plenary discussion
Course evaluation and presentation of certificates.
Case studies for Cambodia