Posted February 1999
Afghanistan | Bolivia, Burundi, Nepal, Pakistan, Tunisia | Costa Rica | Gambia | Honduras | Indonesia | Nepal | Namibia | Niger (1) | Niger (2) | Pakistan | Sikkim (India)
Operational since 1992, "The Inter-Regional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation" is currently in its third phase and includes four national field components in Asia (Nepal and Pakistan), Africa (Tunisia) and Latin America (Bolivia), assisted by a small Co-ordination Unit located at FAO Headquarters, in Rome. Direct links are also maintained with Burundi, where, after the completion of the project in 1997, the activities are on-going and consolidated on a larger scale through a new UNDP/FAO initiative.
This inter-regional project is designed to be a pilot, process-oriented, learning experience, focused on local capacity building, analysis and dissemination of lessons learned at the field-level and, following a bottom-up approach, aimed at offering policy advice. A participatory approach centred on promoting the empowerment of the rural population, through the formation of village-level associations be developed in all project sites.
The areas selected for field implementation are small (approximately 10,000 ha each). The budget for each field project is essentially limited to staff and human resource development, and provides methodological support. It also acts as a catalyst in mobilising local institutions, NGOs and other projects to convey external know-how.
The exchange of experience among national components, and their dissemination in the wide international development forum is ensured by the Co-ordination Unit.
Taking into account the variety of socio-cultural, economic and environmental situations among the different countries involved, the adaptation and application of participatory methods and the promotion of an integrated approach to watershed management within concerned partner institutions, are the central elements of this on-going experience.
"The Inter-Regional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation" is funded by the Italian Government and executed through FAO. Within FAO "The Inter-Regional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation" is operated by the field Operations Division (TCO) and technically backstopped by the Forestry Department (FORC and FONP). This Department has the multidisciplinary technical background required to oversee the activities of the project. Government agencies, NGOs and professionals working in watershed management such as those involved in the Latin American Technical Co-operation Network on Watershed Management and the Asia and Pacific Regional Watershed Management network are also closely associated to the project.
Based on the very positive results obtained by "The Inter-Regional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation", the replication of the project in several other countries is under consideration.
A participatory methodology was developed that centred on promoting the empowerement of rural women through the formation of women's associations at village level. Women's associations progressively became forums through which rural women had the opportunity to directly express their opinions and contribute to the decision making. The impact of this methodology reveals that the full participation of women is vital to the success of the project. Furthermore, this methodology centred on promoting the empowerement of rural women, stressed the importance of women's roles in natural and resource management, both as part of the project team and as active members of the communities.