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Collaborative Community-Based Management of the Aesesa Watershed, Indonesia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Maan, Yosef; Polomaing, Ben; Suardika, Putra; Asmoro, Priyo; Merza, Mae-Ann; Joicey, Paul
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1610
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
community participation
state and local governance
Abstract: "The Aesesa watershed is one of the driest, and most important, watersheds in eastern Indonesia. Despite only three months of rain every year, Aesesa is the main water source and rice production area for Ngada - the health of the watershed is therefore critical for food security, livelihoods and for community and environmental health. Local communities mainly practice smallholder, shifting agriculture, face limited and declining water sources, and land use conflicts are common among different ethnic groups. Land cover is mainly open grassland and issues of deforestation, declining soil quality and erosion are common. "Opposition to government plans to build a dam in Aesesa stimulated local interest in the issue of watershed management. Local stakeholders began addressing the issue in 2003, through the development of a multi-stakeholder, collaborative approach to the management of the Aesesa watershed, involving local government and forestry service officials, community representatives and local NGOs. Agreement was reached to focus initially on the Aemau micro-watershed, one of the driest (and largest) parts of the Aesesa watershed, and home to 5,798 people in 13 villages. "Since the beginning of the multi-stakeholder approach, a number of key activities have been carried out, including participatory community appraisals, participatory analysis of community livelihood assets and government policies. Based on this research, joint management plans were developed through village level community agreements, and between villages and at the district level. Central to this approach was the development of a multi-stakeholder team to drive the process, involvement of community members at all stages, and the development of strong community-based organizations at the village and micro-watershed level. Success has been achieved through the acceptance of the community-based development plans by the local government, and through integration of these plans into the mainstream government planning system. "Development of the multi-stakeholder approach has led to a number of key lessons. Working initially at the level of the micro-watershed was critical in facilitating meaningful community participation, in maintaining a balance between field-based 'concrete' activities such as agro- forestry, with direct felt benefits, and more process oriented activities such as workshops, seminars and meetings, and the development of learning media. Government commitment and support was crucial, as has been the integration of the results of community assessments into the government planning system. Participatory action learning processes at the community and policy level produced much useful information in a democratic manner, and succeeded in developing a new level of critical awareness about the importance of collaboration and integration within the programme. "Despite some successes, many challenges remain. The role and needs of women in watershed management needs to be strengthened. Community organizations remain weak, and some traditional structures are unsupportive of sustainable development. Collaboration between upstream and downstream communities, despite their interdependency, has yet to become a reality. Local government development policies remain focused on natural resource extraction to gather local revenue. Local NGOs and donors have a short-term, project-based approach, despite the fact that the development of collaborative multi-stakeholder processes requires long-term commitment and support."

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