Project Area

At the request of the Government, the proposed Project will support and develop further the campaign to rehabilitate and manage properly the economically significant natural resources in upland watersheds, according to MFWA established criteria, as a means to eliminating residual poverty in upland communities.

The overall goal of the Project is reduced poverty among the targeted upland communities of Elazığ, Bingöl and Muş provinces located in the Murat river watershed. The Development Objective is “improved natural resources management in the upper catchment areas in the Murat Watershed, reducing poverty in participating communities”. 

The Project will adopt a demand-driven approach to increase the participation of communities in the co-management of the rehabilitation and care of natural resources through negotiated local consensus at the village level and the creation of economic incentives for work done in the public domain on shared natural assets. The Project will be implemented over a period of seven years in the upland districts and villages of Elazığ, Bingöl and Muş provinces in Eastern Anatolia.

The three complementary components comprise: (i) Natural Resource and Environmental Management; (ii) Investments in Natural Resources; and (iii) Investments in Livelihood Improvement.

The geographic coverage of the Project is defined as the hilly parts of Murat river watershed (technically the upper watershed of the Murat/Euphrates river system), which definition generates two areas within the upland districts and villages of Elaziğ, Bingöl and Muş provinces in Eastern Anatolia separated by a relatively flat area of high plateau. The selected territory comprises some 100 micro catchments (MCs) of differing sizes with varying degrees of natural resource endowment and degradation and proximity to larger settlements. The MCs would form the operational units for the Project; the technical and organizational attributes of the intervention make it imperative that whole MCs are engaged with whatever affordable package of interventions are appropriate to local circumstances. Through the systematic application of objective criteria, including the preparedness of inhabitants to participate, the Project would select about 25 MCs for implementation.

Common agro-ecological characteristics of the Project area are high altitude, steep slopes prone to erosion, limited availability of surface water and a short growing season following a long winter with snow. Relentless pressure on the fragile natural resource base has resulted in loss of vegetative cover and soils, and contributed to the risks of landslides and floods. The area is at the limits of agricultural production, the main viable productive activity being the use of natural pastures by small stock (and bees) brought up from lower altitudes as the snow melts. Aside from livestock husbandry, resident households carry out very small-scale production of cereals and horticulture for their own consumption. It is not yet clear what effects climate change is having or is likely to have on agricultural potential in the area.

 The geographic targeting of the MRWRP is based on the poverty index and the extent of degradation of the natural resource base. Based on these criteria, the MRWRP would be implemented in the three remote and poor provinces of Elazığ, Bingöl and Muş located in the Murat river watershed in the Eastern Anatolia Region. According to the Socio-Economic Development Index (SEDI) Ranking developed by the State Planning Organization (SPO), the region ranks lowest among the seven regions of Turkey. Elazığ is among the medium degree developed provinces, while Bingöl and Muş are among the least developed provinces. In these provinces, the annual growth rate of population is below Turkey’s average, net migration is negative (that is, people are mostly migrating out of the area due to lack of economic opportunities and access to social infrastructure).

There continue to be substantial socio-economic development disparities in contemporary Turkey between rural and urban areas, between lowland and upland areas, and between the western and the eastern provinces of the country. These have arisen from the structural transformation dynamics of the Turkish economy in which the contribution of industry and services has proportionately increased as a result of exports and domestic consumption driven growth and globalization. The widening income gaps have been manifested in substantial seasonal and permanent economic migration from rural to urban areas, from agriculture to other sectors, and abroad in search of employment opportunities and better socio-economic infrastructure.

In the upland villages of Eastern Turkey, many of the residents live at or below subsistence levels with scarce economic opportunities and poor living standards. The climate is harsh with permanent snow cover for about four months a year. Approximately 80,000 people live in the upland villages in the districts where the Project will be implemented. The main sources of livelihood for this upland village population are semi-subsistence agriculture combined with irregular remittances from seasonal migration and state welfare transfers. 

The natural resources in the Project area areas have been heavily degraded due to overuse over hundreds of years, including overgrazing, unsustainable fuel wood harvesting, and poor agronomic practices. The resulting land degradation further impoverish the population living in upland villages as resources are depleted i.e. grazing becomes sparse, fuel wood collection more time consuming, and there is higher risk of damage to infrastructure from flooding and landslides.

The Turkish Government has accurately identified the scale of the problem and the technical, social, legal and cost challenges entailed in addressing and reversing the degradation of the natural resource base. The OGM has particularly risen to this challenge by creating the necessary capacity to invest in the restoration and management of land, water and energy resources in upland communities, in close partnership with the resident villagers.

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