Community Conservation Resilience Initiative, Ethiopia

“The assessment was a wake-up call, and each of us saw what we had lost”, this was how Adam Haji-jarso, a community member from Dinsho-02 kebele (an administrative unit), in the Ethiopian Highlands described how the results of the Community Conservation Resilience Assessment of which he was a participant, highlighted community conservation issues within his own community.

Mr. Haji-jarso, was referring to the results of a participatory mapping assessment facilitated by Tesfaye Tola, from the Ethiopian NGO MELCA, which was conducted in 3 neighbouring kebeles in the Bale Mountains area, Ethiopia. This assessment aimed to determine the status of Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) in the area. SNS are biologically diverse natural cultural centres where local communities gather to help one another, resolve conflicts, establish common law, and worship. Local communities in the area have stewarded their natural resources through SNS for generations.

The assessment revealed that historically there were 72 SNS within the kebeles, however over the last 50 years, 54 of these had been destroyed and only 18 currently remain. Through participatory processes communities analysed threats to the sites, challenges they currently face, and possible solutions. The assessment process facilitated communities to develop preliminary recommendations, and these included local issues such as creating a local network of SNS custodians, targeted financial and technical support, and advocacy at all levels including with national government.  Each of these could help to strengthen community conservation and resilience in the area.

Natural Justice’s Dr Cath Traynor assisted MELCA to produce the preliminary findings of the assessment, and a flyer is available here. The Ethiopian assessment of one of ten similar community assessments being carried out globally, and the preliminary results were presented at the recent Fostering Community Conservation Conference, earlier this month in Durban, South Africa. Further details of this global initiative are available on Global Forest Coalition’s webpages here. The multi-stakeholder conference produced key recommendations to policy makers which were disseminated at the 14thWorld Forestry Congress, 7-11 September in Durban.

29 September 2015

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