The World Bank/WBI’s CBNRM Initiative
Case Received: February 5, 1998
Authors: Jorge Mercado and Paul Dulin
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND ANIMAL
HUSBANDRY DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF
RENEWABLE NATURAL RESOURCES
EL SALVADOR ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM
STRATEGY FOR COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY TO PROTECT THE UPPER BASIN OF THE RIVER LEMPA, EL SALVADOR, 1997–2001
The basins of the River Lempa tributaries and the reservoir created by the Cerrón Grande dam are badly degraded as a result of:
This situation has led to accelerating soil erosion and the steady depletion of water resources.
The site chosen for the project is the upper Lempa basin, the area with the greatest water potential in the country, covering one quarter of the surface area of El Salvador and home to 40% of the people. The main tributary basins included in the program are: Suquiapa, Sucio, Acelhuate, Guajoyo, Guija, Tahuilapa, Metayate, Mojaflores, Nanuapa, Quezalapa, and Grande de Chalatenango. The target population consists of producers with incomes below the poverty line working smallholdings on slopes of over 15% and with an average cropland size of under 1.5 hectares. Of these, 23% are tenants (that is, producers with no land of their own). Thirteen project areas, amounting to a total of 34 000 hectares and home to some 19 500 producer families, have been identified for priority intervention. These are: San Rafael de Cedros, Tejutepeque, Nejapa, Cinquera, Tenancinango, San José Guayabal, Guazapa, Segura, Sacacoyo, San Juan Opìco, Resbaladero, Texistepeque, and Nueva Concepción. The thirteen areas have been divided into six intervention regions, each to be the province of a Project Operation Unit (POU) responsible for on-site supervision and management of all four program-related activities.
All the activities envisaged have the specific goal of making a contribution to reducing sedimentation from the Cerrón Grande dam by means of soil conservation. This will be achieved by controlling the processes involved in soil creep and preserving and/or improving productivity and ground cover through agroforestry initiatives and biomechanical intervention. The initiatives will center on areas of basic grain production (maize, millet, beans) and the principal beneficiaries will be low-income peasant families owning small hill farms with productive potential. It will be part of the strategy to develop appreciation of the role of peasant women in an environmentally sound productive process and foment active popular participation in initiating a process of sustainable production and productivity which will improve the standard of living of rural families.
The activities envisaged under the project are:
The first step will be to conduct a systematic survey of the project areas in order to establish the technical and social parameters for the prioritization of project areas and the selection of beneficiaries. The survey results will then be used in the next stage involving promotion, organization, training, and advice on appropriate technologies in line with work schemes previously agreed with the farmers (on-farm planning), all these activities being seen as part of one single ongoing process. The project will deploy an incentive scheme to encourage adoption of the technology promoted. The extent and nature of the organizational activity required will depend upon the degree of existing community development: where an organizational element is already in place, this will just need strengthening; where it does not, it will have to be established. The project may not establish any organization separate from the existing community organization nor may it compete with the community organization to run the activities involved.
Initial survey and selection of beneficiaries
A participatory survey of the project areas will be conducted over the first five months. It will serve to:
Promotion and organization of beneficiary groups
This activity is regarded as fundamental to fostering effective, flexible, and viable adoption of conservation technology in each project area. The objectives of promotion and organization are to:
Save where these do not exist, the project must run its activities through established community organizations, taking steps to ensure such organizations are accorded legal status so that they will in future be able to use that status in law to solicit and manage funds at a pace consistent with their own capacity to do so. Once secondary-level organizations are in place, government bodies and/or NGOs already working on community and/or agroforesty development initiatives must ensure they cooperate closely with the support activities envisaged under the Program, even managing these jointly.
Action on training will take place at three levels:
The Program must timetable induction and/or further training workshops or courses on specific issues as and when the need arises. Formal in-house training must be strictly timetabled and arranged in short bursts to avoid interference with ongoing work and ensure proposed goals are met.
The projected involvement of farmer-demonstrators (also known as support leaders or link-up farmers) is seen as an effective mechanism for technology transfer and community-level training. The project must develop a more intensive multimodule farmer-demonstrator training program which adjusts and changes its training focus in the light of the technical support and advice requirements of the different areas/communities involved. Farmer-demonstrators will receive training in the entire skill range: promotion, training, and good practice in soil conservation and agroforestry.
The majority of the activities to be developed are directed to the transfer of the skills and know-how required by the target population with a view both to facilitating the adoption of good practice in soil conservation and agroforestry and to paving the way for autonomous community group management of the proposed project activities. The project will have to develop training in each area/community in a manner consistent with intervention priorities and with the organizational and technical competence of the beneficiaries. It will be important to identify the best method of producer training in each area/community, taking local know-how as the point of departure and employing user-friendly language. In every case, training at all three levels will be essentially practical and directed towards technologies and management mechanisms that are simple and are consistent with the reality of rural life in El Salvador.
Advice and technical support from outreach workers and farmer-demonstrators
The outreach and technical support model adopted by the Soil Conservation and Agroforestry Agency includes the use of outreach workers in the employ of consultants (or of government or NGO development bodies already working in the area), alongside farmer-demonstrators, pioneer producers, and support leaders resident in the project area, the idea being to get them to establish formal working links with each other. There is no question of putting farmer-demonstrators under contract to work in communities and areas other than their own, but to train and strengthen up as many farmers as possible and get them to stay put in their communities as permanent agents of technological change.
The Outreach and Technical Support Agenvy is responsible for overseeing all project activities and collating the work of other subgroups in order to harmonize activities, foster promotion and organization, and operate incentive schemes and training programs. The expectation is that, by the end of the program, technical and organizational capacities will have been sufficiently enhanced for the target beneficiary population to be in a position to assume responsibility for sustaining the work begun.
Once the survey of the project areas is complete, outreach activities will begin in the project areas/ priority communities. The first step of the outreach phase will be promotion and organization, and this will have specialist support and will be undertaken by outreach workers employed by consultancies, potential producer-beneficiaries having to satisfy a set of selection criteria before they can participate in these activities. They must, among other things:
After a period working in the communities, outreach workers must select from among the group members support leaders and pioneer farmers—women or men, farmers or housewives. Provided those chosen are willing and meet the selection criteria (still to be established), they will then be recruited as local demonstrators (farmer-demonstrators) of the technologies promoted by the Program. They will take part in a special training program designed to prepare them to discharge this function in their respective communities/work areas. The outreach program will then go through a transitional stage in which outreach workers and farmer-demonstrators work side by side, with more and more of the responsibility passing to the latter until they are running the outreach and technical support activities with a minimum of help from the outreach workers. One middle-term objective of the program is to strengthen local capacity and self-sufficiency in the technology involved. In this way, demonstrators will continue their outreach and technical support role beyond the program implementation period.
Establishing and operating an incentive scheme
One important element in persuading farmers to adopt conservation practices on small hill farms is to offer them some kind of incentive which will allow them to run the risk and meet the initial costs of changing over to the new technology but not make them incentive dependent. Although the technologies concerned are designed to increase diversification and raise farm incomes, it is anticipated that there will be a critical transitional period of one or two years during which farmers may experience a drop in output and income. For subsistence producers, this is an inhibiting factor involving very high risk.
The main justification for offering incentives to small producers is that:
It has already been established that producers are interested in testing and applying conservation technology but are themselves aware that their adoption will involve an initial investment which is both beyond their means and outside their present technological capacity.
The Incentive Fund will be administered by the El Salvador Environment Fund (FONAES). Consultants will prepare an Annual Regional Incentive Budget (PARI) for each of the six regions for which they have responsibility. In every case, the PARI will be drawn up with a view to consolidating projected incentive requirements at each beneficiary community group level (the sum total, that is, of the needs of all group members meeting the criteria for eligibility). The incentives required will be calculated on the basis of Beneficiary Operational Plans (BOPs), these consisting of an understanding between the outreach worker and each member of the beneficiary group concerning which technologies are to be implemented on their particular land. To facilitate PARI calculations, BOPs will be presented at group level. The type of incentive and the way it will be administered will depend on the agroecological and socioeconomic conditions pertaining in each community or project area. One middle-term aim of the project is to strengthen community organizations so that they can establish and run their own incentive funds in the form of a revolving fund or credit with individual beneficiaries repaying the incentives they receive and so ensuring the groups concerned have the resources they are going to need over the coming season and members the necessary incentives.
PARIs represent an estimate of need based on a survey of the condition of each community or group of community members and its project potential. Once a regional PARI has been approved, resources will become available at the time and in the sum needed to provide incentives for the adoption of the technology promoted. Once drawn up, PARIs will be submitted to the UEC for revision and approval and, when they have been approved, the UEC will apply to the Central Reserve Bank for the funds themselves and these will be immediately released to FONAES. FONAES will receive requests from a POU and/or region and will complete the necessary documentation and hand the funds over to the Consultants for distribution to the beneficiary group.
Activity planning, follow-up, and assessment
Consultants will institute a down-up system of activity planning, follow-up, and assessment.
The system design will depend on the findings of the survey establishing strategies and priorities for each geographical area and type of intervention, including the selection of the technologies to promote in each area/community. These results will then be used in the preparation of the Strategic Plan, which will include:
At the end of the first year of operation, and after that by the end of each calendar year, each Consultant, together with all colleagues and UEC staff, will conduct an Annual Activities Assessment Workshop to assess achievements and monitor progress against the plan defining the work for that year, and will study their experiences of the various implementation methods employed during the course of that year. Using the results of that assessment, the workshop will then proceed to a second phase in which it will discuss planning for the coming year, incorporating the lessons that have been learned and making any necessary adjustments to its methods of promotion, organization, training, outreach, technical support, and so on.
Monitoring the impact of intervention will help in the assessment of progress towards achieving the Program objectives of counteracting depletion in the tributary basins of the Lempa River and improving hill smallholding productivity and the well-being of the target population. A system will be devised for gathering data on preselected indicators, to measure trends and assess:
Parameters will be monitored and data analyzed using mutually comparable baseline parameters.
Experts engaged by the Consultants will, with the help of outreach workers and farmer-demonstrators, be responsible for the on-site gathering of monitoring data. They will key field data into a model of the SPS and analyze the trends that emerge. The results of the assessment of impact monitoring data will be presented at the Annual Activities Assessment Workshop where they will serve as a tool for feedback to those conducting the activities so that the latter are made aware of the need to make adjustments to the way they operate and/or the intervention techniques they employ. At the end of the Program, there will be a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the activities involved, made on the basis of all the data gathered during the life of the Program.