ENB:04:07 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]


IFAD: Dr. Gary Howe, Project Controller, Africa Division of IFAD, spoke about the need to involve resource conservation into the regular practices of poor farmers. Conservation activities do not take place unless they offer tangible benefits to farmers. While production must be based on the individual, the communal framework is important. The issue is not to encourage communal production, but to support the communal framework, as most of the land subject to desertification is some form of common property. The problem of desertification does not originate from the intrinsic weakness of common property regimes, but the fact that they have been weakened from the outside. He added that there is a need to include all groups who use resources, including women, the poor and marginalized ethnic groups. He concluded by listing several strategies for conservation: 1) anti- desertification activities must not be seen as isolated actions, but part of the agricultural effort as a whole; 2) activities must be principally engaged in helping farmers to identify their own problems and find solutions; 3) communities cannot manage lands if they do not have clear land rights; and 4) macro-economic policies must change.

UNEP: Franklin G. Cardy, Director of the Desertification Control PAC at UNEP, spoke on new directions in systematic information collection and analysis for desertification control. He began with his conclusions, including: listen to the clients to determine what information is needed and for what purposes; given the various types of information available, concentrate on what is required to increase efficiency; develop indicators that recognize links between human condition and the environment; develop standardized assessment mixing ground and remote methods; as proposed in 1977, use indigenous knowledge in planning; collect and disseminate successes and their replicability; pay attention to community level information, analysis and feed- back; ensure that provision is made for response to early warnings; strengthen research institutes and information center networks; set time specific goals; and get the information to beneficiaries in ways it can be used.

KENYA: J.K. Njihia of the Drought Monitoring Centre, Kenya, made a presentation on monitoring activities on drought in Nairobi and Harare carried out by centres that were established in 1989. He said the centres serve drought- stricken countries in the region. The centres provide information needed on agricultural production, weather outlooks, meteorological conditions, drought severity, conditions and impact of the climate, thus providing the necessary tools for early warning. He said bulletins on the centres were available and that visits could be arranged.

WRI: Peter Veit spoke about the need for socially appropriate dryland management technologies. He commented that many effective technologies and techniques already exist and are being practiced by farmers in sub-Saharan Africa's drylands. Several matters regarding small-scale technologies and local-level natural resource management have implications for dryland management in sub-Saharan Africa, including: local resource management (security in land and resources, socio- economic opportunities and incentives, and an enabling political environment); technologies with multiple objectives; technologies as packages of knowledge, skills, resources and practices; and indigenous technologies and local knowledge. To be practical, technologies also must have valued returns, known effectiveness, cultural acceptance, and the capability to use local labor and management resources. Government actions that might facilitate small-scale technology

interventions for improving dryland management include: improve existing technologies; strengthen village institutions; strengthen informal information exchanges; and channel resources to the grassroots.

In the discussion, the Chair mentioned the need to adapt complicated technologies so that they can be used at the local level. Austria asked about small scale technologies in the energy sector. Belgium stressed the need for people to be more open in accepting new technologies and that there must be more cooperation between countries on the development and dissemination of technologies. Cameroon stressed the issue of adapting technology to local needs.

UNSO: Tijan Jallow, a technical advisor with UNSO, discussed capacity building for sustainable natural resources management. He said that capacity-building involves improvement in: human resource development; laws and regulations; and physical assets and procedures that govern the operations of the institutions. He said that the problem with capacity building is the lack of interrelationships between these three dimensions and argued that a holistic approach is necessary. He listed the hindrances to capacity- building as: failure in the delivery system in implementation and monitoring; weak management and coordination in the recipient countries and support from the donors; the lack of a "market" for technical assessment, which is supply rather than demand driven; and a poor "enabling" environment. He said the most notable issue in sub-saharan Africa is the erosion of capacity. He said the Convention should first identify the constraints in development efforts in the past, including: community involvement; rights to local resources; and sectoral, large scale, capital intensive and imported approaches. He also said success depended on decentralization and empowerment, provision of secure rights to resources, flexibility in project implementation and community involvement in institution building. Some questions that need answers are: whether local communities can take over these new responsibilities; to what extent the state could allow empowerment to grow; what external support was needed; the legal and administrative measures required; and how long the common interest at the community level stratification would continue. He also explained how to increase and enhance productivity, technology development and transfer. He emphasized that capacity building should be recipient, not donor, driven. He concluded that a lot of difficulties are due to lack of common perception between the donors and recipients.

In the discussion, Switzerland sought to know the role of the private sector in capacity-building. Norway said capacity building is not the same as institution building. Botswana asked how communities at the local level could organize themselves. UNSO said most capacity building has focussed on governments and not community structures, NGOs or the private sector and said more emphasis should be on balancing what kinds of capacity building was being done at the community level.

IFAD: Gary Howe spoke about alternative livelihood systems. He said that although IFAD could not offer an alternative, the issue was important because it appears unlikely that with the present technology and incentives, a stable relationship between the environment and the demands placed on it by the people can be achieved. He explained that since desertification is anthropogenic and the alternative is to provide people with alternative non-agricultural income generating activities outside of the most vulnerable areas. He mentioned three environmentally friendly ways of livelihood diversification identified by UNSO: non-extractive activities using natural resources; agro-processing aimed at increasing the economic value at the local level; and small-scale industry using local inputs. He stressed that success in local diversification will depend on: better linkages to national and regional markets coupled by significant improvements in transport and communications and buoyancy in the markets. He stated that privileged incentives such as access to foreign currency at low rates, subsidized credit, and positions in public procurement offered to large businesses through macro- economic policies is harmful to micro-enterprises located in marginal areas. He said these distortions have to be eliminated for the micro-economic enterprises to succeed. He concluded that the solution lies in giving the local people alternatives to agriculture.

In the discussion, Kjell‚n stressed the governments' priorities must be such that macro-level policies should be linked to the local community. Armenia explained that his country was very rich in biodiversity, including 100 varieties of wild wheat which could be tended to obtain high yield varieties. Senegal explained how arabica gum was introduced into the silvo-pastoral zones but how in the last two years, they had to think of substitutes as the international market did not offer good prices. Mali commended a programme introduced by Germans that created mixed centers for women to learn new technologies. He said that legal and trade barriers inhibit the introduction of new technologies and pointed out that women were now migrating to cities.Howe responded that economic opportunities in the rural areas should be accorded women if they were to stop migrating. The role of the state in marketing could be dealt with by establishing a ministry of small scale enterprise. He explained that it is not only the products from the arid tropics that are suffering from substitution by manufactured products and that diversification offers a broadening scope for such products.

ENDA: Masse Lo spoke about alternative energy sources for arid areas. Diversities of economies and cultures have an impact on the level of ability to meet energy needs. Without understanding these linkages it is impossible to understand the energy crisis in developing countries. Since populations in arid areas depend on biomass, primarily fuelwood, consequences include environmental degradation, deforestation, and desertification. He explained the need to promote new solutions on energy policy that call for solar and/or wind energy and the rational use of fuelwood. Any alternative energy techniques must be adapted to meet local needs and demands. Photovoltaic sources are not only less costly but they correspond to the needs of people in rural areas and arid zones. He also spoke about the sound management and combustion of fuelwood in arid zones. He discussed some of the problems with new fuel efficient stoves, including the reluctance of some local populations to use the new stoves, and poor distribution networks. He concluded that to combat desertification there is a need to rethink all energy policies.

In the discussion, Armenia mentioned that work is underway in his country to develop wind, hydro and other alternative energy sources. Ghana mentioned that fuelwood energy sources constitute 80% of all energy used in his country. Ghana's policy is to improve existing energy systems before introducing alternatives.

[Return to start of article]