restricted access 11. Local Environmental Action Planning
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164 LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION PLANNING … Introduction Despite huge efforts and large amounts of international aid money, little progress has been made in reducing poverty, and the world’s environment is regarded as still too fragile (Kothari and Minogue 2002). The situation remains of the struggle of rural people to find acceptable livelihoods within a deteriorating resource base. There is evidence that poor people are getting poorer, and the environment continues to be degraded, thereby threatening future livelihoods of those often too poor to invest in it (Murphree 1996). Many donor projects are based on the assumption that the efforts that the donor initiates will take on a momentum of their own. Unfortunately, the development landscape is littered with the remains of projects that have died when donor funding ended (Turner and Hulme 1997). Such projects were intended to foster a process of self-sustaining development, but in reality, they provided little more than a temporary infusion of assets, personnel and services (Morss et al. 1985). Although aid money has helped in some cases, it has failed in general to seriously reduce destitution. The world of the local-level natural resource managers, who are often eking out a living from a degraded natural resource base, remains divorced from the international arena of endless debate and discussion on community-based natural resource management and sustainable development. People-centred conservation currently enjoys international popularity as an environmental philosophy that seeks to link conservation concerns with local needs and governance (Murphree 1996). Effective environmental management driven by local initiative and participation should provide the key to reducing rural poverty, as well as conserving the natural resource base (Woodhouse et al. 2000). The active involvement of local people in the process is therefore perceived as being a prerequisite for sustainable development. However, the record of community-based natural resource management is highly mixed. While there are outstanding cases of success, more often the picture is one of qualified achievement or, even, abysmal failure. Sometimes 11 Local Environmental Action Planning: Making it Work Jeanette Manjengwa 165 Jeannette Manjengwa community-based natural resource management has been misconstrued and applied to the wrong contexts. Imposition of community-based natural resource management on rural communities, poor extension work and local factionalism are also blamed for poor performance. This chapter looks at two interventions, namely District Environmental Action Planning (DEAP) and local level scenario planning, iterative assessment and adaptive management that both aim to empower local level natural resource users to better manage their natural resources for their own livelihood benefits, whilst conserving the environment. Although the two initiatives have similar overall aims, they have different approaches, methodologies, time frames, geographical location, scale and implementing agencies. Rather than attempt a comparative analysis, the chapter aims to throw light on the more general problem of why interventions that claim to link conservation with development are failing not only to empower local people, but to improve livelihoods and enhance the natural resource base. The DEAP programme was implemented in the 1990s by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, through its Department of Natural Resources (DNR),1 with financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and technical support from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is described in official documents as a community-based participatory planning approach that aims to integrate environmental concerns with development planning (Mukahanana et al. 1996; Chenje et al. 1998; DNR 1999), and to assist communities to assess their human and environmental well-being and develop capacity for strategic planning and taking action at the community level (DNR 1999). Despite the participatory methodology used, the programme had little impact and did not result in ownership by the local people, nor result in any substantial improvement of either human or environmental well-being (Manjengwa 2004, 2007). The chapter investigates what went wrong with the DEAP programme, particularly the paradox of too much participation, which rendered it both socially and financially unsustainable, and too little participation in that a participatory approach was applied to only part of the process and local people were not in control. Local level scenario planning, iterative assessment and adaptive management is currently being implemented by the Centre for Applied Social Sciences (CASS), University of Zimbabwe, with financial assistance from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The main objective of this initiative is to enhance the ability of local level natural resource managers to collectively manage and benefit from their natural resources through the development and re...