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Malaysia and Philippines RPCV Brian Crawford worked in coastal management activities in Thailand, Ecuador and Sri Lanka
Malaysia and Philippines RPCV Brian Crawford worked in coastal management activities in Thailand, Ecuador and Sri Lanka
South of the Philippines, East of Kalimantan, West of the Malukus
Brian Crawford Reports from Manado
Manado, the small provincial capital of North Sulawesi, Indonesia (pop. 300,000), is headquarters for Brian Crawford, the technical advisor and site manager for Proyek Pesisir (Coast Project). He is on assignment from the Coastal Resource Center, the non-academic department attached to the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, for a project sponsored by USAID.
Crawford's current project in Manado is a natural continuation of earlier field work in Asia. After earning his degree from Florida Institute of Technology in 1978, Brian joined the Peace Corps where he served four years as a fishery specialist in Malaysia and the Philippines. On the subject of his Peace Corps experiences, Brian comments that "the Malaysians and Filipinos taught me more than I was able to give back to them." One lesson that Brian clearly learned from his Peace Corps experience is a pragmatic approach to implementing global projects within the context of local norms and customs. Read on to learn how this sensitive scientist is facilitating the development of sustainable local solutions for coastal resource management in Indonesia.
Tell Reefnet readers about the Coastal Resource Center (CRC) and how USAID collaborates with this organization on coastal management projects in Indonesia.
CRC has been involved in coastal management activities in the US for 25years, starting with assisting the state of Rhode Island to develop a state coastal zone management plan. In 1986, CRC was awarded a competitive contract in the form of a cooperative agreement to take US experience in coastal management and attempt to adapt it to developing country contexts. We established pilot projects in Thailand, Ecuador and Sri Lanka. While we have ended our pilot program activities, USAID has renewed our cooperative agreement (an administrative mechanism whereby USAID can contract the University of Rhode Island for technical services) through the year 2001. The nature of the initial agreement has changed somewhat as well. While we continue to provide global support services and activities on behalf of the USAID Center for Environment, the largest chunk of our international funding comes directly from USAID country missions. The cooperative agreement allows missions to "buy-in" to our cooperative agreement--in essence, they can request us to come in and implement coastal projects funded out of USAID country mission budgets. CRC also conducts US-based coastal projects and other international projects from other sources of funding.
In Indonesia, the coastal resources management project (locally know as Proyek Pesisir) is part of a larger cooperative effort in natural resources management between the USAID and the government of Indonesia. The nature of coastal management requires that we work with institutions at both the national and local level. At the national level, the project works through regional development planning board within the Ministry of the Interior in addition to the National Development Planning Board. We also work with a university partner, the Bogor Agricultural Institution, that aids in assessing national coastal policy issues, and disseminating the results of the research. At the provincial level, we have a working group chaired by the provincial development planning board, but made up of approximately 10 institutions with authority and jurisdiction in coastal areas. The working group selected three sites (village scale) where we are attempting to develop models of successful participatory coastal management programs.
The goal of Proyek Pesisir is to contribute to the USAID strategic objective of assisting the government of Indonesia to decentralize and strengthen natural resources management in Indonesia. We are one of several contractors working on this broad objective. Other contractors are focusing on strengthening environmental NGOs, forestry management, and the management of protected areas. At the provincial level, our goal is to develop models of decentralized and participatory coastal management. Our objectives include strengthening local institutions, increasing participation in all phases of the management process, and developing more effective policies for resource management.
Could you describe some of the field stations, how they were chosen, how they have developed.
The field sites were selected by the provincial working group, an interagency team of representatives from provincial level agencies. First, a rapid assessment of a selected sample of coastal communities was conducted. Based on this assessment we had a pretty good idea of the major issues in the area: bomb fishing, use of cyanide in live fish trade, coral mining, coastal erosion, tourism development, lack of clean and/or adequate drinking water supply, pollution problems such as solid waste disposal and the accumulation of plastics on the beaches and reefs, overfishing, and potential over-utilization of mangrove resources, lack of land tenure in many coastal communities, etc.
The Minahasa regency comprises about 1 million people, while the total population of the province is about 3 million. The province has very low population densities compared to Java and Sumatra, but is comparable to some of the other outer islands and provinces of Indonesia. Therefore, not all of the problems here are similar to those encountered elsewhere in the country, hence our desire to have several additional provincial sites for developing models in different contexts. (Two new provincial field offices will start this year) Overall, North Sulawesi is fortunate in that the condition of its resources is still generally better than many other locations in Indonesia, or even those found in the central Philippines. However, trends towards increasing degradation are evident--hopefully it is not too late to begin to reverse these trends.
Describe the management models that are used in Sulawesi.
The management models we develop need to be appropriate to the Indonesian context. This means that they need to be effective in improving the management of coastal resources and, at the same time, they need to be acceptable to the interests of the local community and government. We know that there are general principles and approaches to coastal management that work elsewhere and we try to adapt them to Indonesia by training our local colleagues in these general principles and by sharing with them results that have been obtained from other locations, such as the Philippines and Ecuador. We then try to generate discussion by asking questions, such as, Are these approaches possible here, and if so, how do we work out the specific mechanisms necessary to apply them? Foreign advisors are good at explaining concepts, sharing experiences from other parts of the world, and asking lots of questions--what if..., have you thought about this..., and how do we do it here? In this way, we act as cheerleaders and coaches. Technical advisors are not particularly good at reading the local social, political and cultural climate, and local colleagues need to map out the specific details of how to make things work at the local level. Local colleagues may at times be skeptical of certain approaches, but if trusting relationships are established, one can ask, Can we try it and see if it might work? (i.e., acknowledge that it may fail, but worth a try). Ultimately, it is the Indonesians who make the key decisions and it is they who will figure out how to adapt or develop new approaches relevant to Indonesia. Foreign advisors can be catalysts and information brokers, but ownership and responsibility for the decision-making belongs with the locals.
Specific models we are trying to adapt here are community-based marine reserves, and participatory reef monitoring by the community using manta tow. We are also working on a long-range program to monitor Crown of Thorns populations at one site as a follow-up to a clean up effort that we undertook several weeks ago. We had over 100 divers and student volunteers from Manado join with over 200 community members to clear several reef areas of Crown of Thorns that had reached outbreak densities. One round of clean up was not sufficient so the community is continuing the clean-up operations on their own. We want to try and collect some data on size, densities and total numbers of Crown of Thorns populations, and link this with a broader reef monitoring and management program for the two villages. The Crown of Thorns project was very successful at building goodwill and encouraging community participation and interest in managing their adjacent reef areas.
The marine reserve concept in Blongko is just being launched. Last week, after a training session on reef monitoring using manta tow, the community, in conjunction with our technical staff, identified the areas of the reef that are in good condition. We conducted a series of community meetings with the objective of identifying a location for a marine reserve. Meetings are continuing to work out details of how the reserve will be managed and to decide how to handle the interests of various stakeholders. Some the concerns that remain to be resolved are:
* Should reef gleaners be allowed to walk over the reef flat at low tide to reach other gleaning areas?
* Should they be allowed to continue gleaning on the reef flat, or should the reserve cover only the areas below low tide water?
* How much of a buffer zone from the reef slope should be established so light boats fishing pelagics do not come too near the reef sanctuary?
* Should there be a core zone only or a core and buffer zone?
* What sort of sanctions should be enforced against violators?
* What sort of management committee should be established and how will its members be selected?
These are all important questions currently under discussion. While a marine sanctuary is a simple concept--set aside a piece of reef to protect and enhance the fishery--the details often become quite complex and numerous. Furthermore, the community must answer these questions before an official ordinance can be established. In general meetings of the community, we are concerned that gleaners (predominantly women) and light boat fishers may not be fully represented or fully voice their opinions in the meetings. Extension staff are planning to conduct a series of focus group discussions separately with these stakeholder groups, both to understand their concerns and opinions, and to facilitate a process of consensus-building on how the sanctuary will be managed.
At two of our sites, we hope to establish models for village-level coastal management plans, which feed into the existing land use and annual development budgeting processes of the government of Indonesia. If successful, there is interest at the National level of using these as a basis for establishing a national extension program in coastal management for the thousands of coastal villages in Indonesia. If this dream comes true, we will have made a significant contribution towards Indonesia's goal of sustainable development of coastal communities.
Tell us how it is to work and live in Manado.
This is actually a very livable town, as long as you do not expect people to speak English to you all the time and are not looking for English-speaking public schools. The people are remarkably friendly. Pollution levels in the air and ocean water are low. There is great diving 30 minutes by boat just outside of town. (I saw a school of about 40 individuals - bumphead parrot fish - each over a meter long while snorkeling last weekend!) There are beautiful forests and volcanoes with spectacular waterfalls and vistas which make great weekend or day trips from Manado. Manado also has access to such modern technological amenities as HBO, CNN, e-mail and international ATM banking. Cirrus and Plus machines at the banks in Manado allow me to withdraw Rupiah here directly from my US bank with my US bank card eliminating the need for wire transfers and travelers checks. In my opinion, Manado definitely beats Jakarta for places to live, unless you are the big city type.
I live in Manado with my wife and 11 year old daughter. We have a modest 4 bedroom house (one bedroom serves as a guest room and another has been converted into a school room) in a middle-class neighborhood with all Indonesian neighbors. (Most expats live on the other side of town in a posh neighborhood). There are no international or English-speaking schools in town, so we are home schooling our daughter. Although certain classes are taught by myself or my wife, we also contract tutors from town and we remain in contact with her public school in Rhode Island by mail and e-mail. We have one live-in maid who does house cleaning and laundry. Chat (my wife) does cooking and most of the marketing along with her job as headmistress of our one-person school.
English is not widely spoken, so we have all learned to speak Indonesian, a necessity to conduct daily affairs and communicate with our neighbors, bus drivers, office staff, etc. I also speak Indonesian at work. While about half our staff can speak English, the operating language is usually Indonesian in the office, and Indonesian is always spoken with local government counterparts or when out in the field. I have a 10 minute commute to work. We have a project office near the government offices and university. The total project staff at this field office is about 12 persons - half administrative and half technical. A field extension officer is assigned full time to each of our 3 village field sites. They spend 3 weeks of the month in the field and one week in the office for planning, reporting and training.
I get out to the field at least twice a month, to observe critical events and to provide feedback and advice directly to the field extension officers (this is the best and most fun part of the job). Being out at the field sites always fills me with encouragement and inspiration. The responses and involvement from the local communities is tremendous and provides us all with the energy to try harder. The rest of my time is spent in the office in Manado, working with local staff, meeting with government counterparts, and coordinating a host of activities with the Jakarta office and home office back in Rhode Island.
How has the Asian economic crisis affected Indonesia and are your projects threatened by the turmoil?
There have been significant impacts. Counterpart budgets are shrinking and, due to the tremendous rate of inflation, the amount of Rupiah that these entities have available does not go as far as it once did. On the bright side, since our USAID budget is in dollars, our budget has actually increased when valued in the local currency. So we have been able to keep project operations moving with little interruption. We are also able to contribute small amounts to coastal management projects that have been postponed due to the economic situation. An extra 10 or 20 percent is often all that is necessary to revive a project that is stalled due to monetary problems. It is remarkable how a small amount of money - a few thousand dollars - can go a long way in a coastal village.
It is important to note that money is often not the key factor to ensure the success of a project. That is to say that it is not just building a drinking water supply system, or having a marine sanctuary ordinance signed by the head of a village that we are after. Our overriding concern is whether the community will maintain and repair the system after it is built, whether they will effectively manage the sanctuary once it is established. These elements--bricks and mortar, ordinances and plans--are only part of the development equation. They are just artifacts of the development process. It is a community taking control of their destiny and the sustainability of these initiatives that are the true tests of development.
El Niño and the economic crisis are having a severe effect on the livelihoods of the people in the communities where we work. Springs have dried up requiring people to transport water into the area or buy it, crops are failing, prices of basic foodstuffs and medicines are increasing, alternative employment opportunities are declining. Unfortunately, these conditions mean increased dependence on the natural resource base for survival and coastal management is more important than ever in the context of these economic stresses. Last week, one women in the village of Benetenan said to me," Even though our crops are dying - the coconut trees and vanilla plants - we still have the sea which continues to provide for us." It is hard to explain, but when you are out in the field, you can see and feel that life is getting harder. Hopefully, this is only a blip in the long-term outlook for Indonesia.
Although life sounds good there, do you look forward to coming home to the US eventually?
Yes, I do. I am an American and that is where my real home and heart lies. This is a wonderful country and wonderful people, and I will always want to work with and visit the friends and colleagues I have made here. But this is Indonesia and it is the Indonesians who must pursue the goal of sustainable coastal management and development. I am very grateful for the opportunity to assist in this journey and make a small contribution along the road.
|By aslamgmy (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 4:12 am: Edit Post|
thank for your information