About Project

Murat River Watershed Rehabilitation Project (MRWRP) aims at improving livelihoods through the rehabilitation and sustainable use of natural assets. The linkage between poverty among upland village communities and the degradation of natural resources needs to be broken for the community to embark on a more productive and sustainable livelihood strategy. The challenges lie in combining the regeneration of land and vegetation with increased agricultural productivity improving the livelihood for the people living in and of the upland watershed. 

Turkey is categorized as a Middle-Income Country with an average Gross National Income per capita of USD 8 720 (2009). The sector shares of GDP are: services 64.7%, industry 25.9% and agriculture 9.4%, reflecting a long term shift from rural to urban living. Unemployment is higher in rural areas and among youth (24%), and women’s participation in the labour force is low at 27%. Despite vigorous growth of the economy, marked regional income disparities persist, with the mountainous regions in the East continuing to lag behind. Government’s national development strategy features economic growth, human resource development, employment in high technology industry and infrastructure advances but maintains a strong commitment to regional development and poverty reduction. The National Rural Development Plan (2010 2013) entails four strategic objectives of which the last is crucial to the present initiative: “Protection and improvement of the rural environment through adoption of environmentally friendly agricultural practices, protection and sustainable use of forest resources and the management and improvement of protected areas”. The rural poverty reduction strategy is underpinned by strong policies related to key aspects of environmental remediation and protection, including forestry, desertification and climate change.

Natural Resource-based Livelihoods and Rural Poverty. About seven million people (10% of the population) live in 21,000 forest villages, some located in the uplands. Per capita income in these areas was just 7% of the national average in 2004 and the gap is widening. Upland village households engage in mixed farming, mainly livestock with some horticulture, but production is seldom sufficient even for household consumption. The majority rely on supplementary income from state and/or extended family welfare provision in order to remain in their villages; the alternative is migration. The Project’s target is poor upland villages within the Murat River Watershed, one of the physically most degraded environments in the country. The area is located within the provinces of Elaziğ, Bingöl and Muş, which are ranked 53rd, 77th and 79th respectively out of 81 provinces in UNDP’s HDI. The three provinces are characterised by larger household size, younger average age, lower life expectancy, significantly lower male and female literacy, higher unemployment and a higher proportion of employment in agriculture than the national average – all of which is highly correlated to rural poverty. Pressure on fragile ecosystems, particularly the indiscriminate harvesting of fuel wood and overgrazing by animals, has accelerated natural erosion processes, reduced the economic carrying capacity of the land and resulted in sedimentation, decreased water quality and increased the incidence of flooding and landslides.

Project Rationale. Lasting rehabilitation of land, vegetation and water resources in degraded catchment areas is a process requiring long-term management changes. The rationale of this Project is to link catchment area rehabilitation with improving livelihoods in adjacent communities. People here need to be empowered to take care of the resources on which they rely for feeding their livestock, collecting firewood for cooking and heating, and receive water for households, irrigation and livestock.

The Project will assist communities to embark on a more sustainable development path where they will be able to use instead of overuse and misuse their surrounding environment. In the period before investments in natural resources and in livelihood improvements start to generate longer term benefits, the village communities will benefit from employment in civil works.

MRWRP Development Objective. The overall Project goal is reduced poverty among the upland communities of the Murat River Watershed. The development objective is improved livelihood and natural resources management in the upper catchment areas in the Murat watershed.

Targeting. The primary target group of the MRWRP would be poor women and men living in upland villages in the selected micro-catchments. A secondary target group would be other non-farming residents who would also benefit from improvements to their physical environment and living standards. Together, these groups total an estimated 80,000 very poor potential direct beneficiaries (12,500 households). 

Project Components and Outcomes. (i) Natural resources and environmental management (consultations, empowerment and planning); (ii) investments in natural resources and environmental assets (land, water and vegetation); and (iii) investments in improved livelihoods empowering upland communities to maintain and benefit from the natural resources improvements.


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