Project Rationale

The proposed Project aims at supporting the Government’s efforts to check further degradation of upland watersheds and to improve the natural resource base as a means to raise income and livelihood in upland villages. The Project will specifically focus on village dwellers’ involvement in the decision-making and implementation processes relating to the rehabilitation of the existing natural resources while facilitating the creation of a strong sense of ownership among the upland communities and thereby ensuring sustainability of the investments.

The Murat River Watershed is characterised by a high degree of environmental deterioration and widespread poverty in the upland villages. The situation is locked in a vicious cycle where unsustainable crop and livestock production practices have detrimental effect on soil structure and fertility, on the natural vegetation, and on water flow and quality. This degradation of the natural resource base further aggravates the entrenched poverty in upland villages.

The central development hypothesis for IFAD’s involvement is to break the vicious cycle of natural resources degradation and poverty. The Project views the natural resource degradation as a multi-sectoral problem requiring site-specific solutions. It will support catchment development involving the integration of forestry investments, soil and water conservation and crop and livestock production in a mutually reinforcing and complementary manner.

In the planning and implementation, restrictions will be accompanied by benefits: Controlling livestock movement will be compensated by alternative management and feeding though better stables and forage production; erosion control and stabilising water flow provides more water with less sediment for watering of livestock and crops; and afforestation and rehabilitation of existing oak coppices enhance the availability of firewood, which coupled with more efficient stoves and solar heating make firewood consumption sustainable.

The elements of conservation and livelihood improvement are parts of a comprehensive package where the support to improved agriculture and livelihoods are conditional on the acceptance of natural resources rehabilitation and protection. Over time higher yields from livestock and crops coupled with more efficient energy use will gradually reduce the pressure on natural resources in the micro catchment area. The micro catchment area will over time become more productive, which in turn will change the villagers’ perception of the natural resources and the exploitation of these.

Relevant Government agencies (Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, and Ministry of Environment and Urbanization) have a well-documented track record in physical stabilization and recovery of degraded natural resources. Investment are already carried out in a joint effort together with village communities in the intervention areas with villagers benefiting from employment during land rehabilitation, such as erosion control intervention and tree planting. The intention of the Project is to build on the valuable experience gained from government-community cooperation in watershed management and reaching a level further. The Project will through its modalities establish a direct linkage between watershed restoration and management with agricultural and livelihood development. This will create higher ownership and sustainability as villagers will be more inclined to protect the watershed when they experience the enhanced economic value from a better natural resources management.

The present Project design is aligned with the objectives set out in the Results-based Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) of 2006 and its 2011 12 Addendum, in particular the emphatic statement that sustainable natural resource management is a necessary condition for rural poverty reduction. The 2006 COSOP notes that the support from IFAD should aim to combine targeted interventions, geared towards quality of life improvements in poorer villages, with primarily self-targeting measures to stimulate, where feasible, broader-based growth in economic activity that can generate jobs and increase income for poorer rural people. The Addendum 2011-2012 served mainly to provide updated information and analysis with regard to the 2006 COSOP, and to steer the focus of the IFAD country programme towards improved natural resource management with pronounced emphasis on the participatory rehabilitation of degraded forests and agricultural lands together with creating income-generating opportunities for poor forest dwellers.
 

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