Increasingly, aquatic resources like fisheries are seen as a main route out of poverty for rural communities. At the same time, improvements to governance mechanisms can help to minimize potential conflicts over such resources. Therefore the methods and tools developed in the STARGO project are being applied to several ecoregions in Africa and Asia. These stakeholder consultations were a first step to establish a broader stakeholder engagement process to bring together fishing communities and community-based organisations, as well as international NGOs, donors and government officials from the local, provincial and national level. The goal is to facilitate a process that helps to deal with issues and conflicts emerging from increased competition over and pressures on the aquatic resources of the Tonle Sap and the Lake Kariba.
In Cambodia a first result of the consultations held in June was the establishment of an advisory group compromising key decision makers from the government, Cambodian research institutions, representatives from the local communities and community-based organisations as well as international NGOs and donors. This advisory group will drive a process which will culminate in a large “whole-system-in-the-room” workshop in September 2011. During this workshop concrete goals and actions plans to address the major challenges around aquatic resource competition in the Tonle Sap will be developed. The stakeholder engagement process in Cambodia is also supported by AED as part of their Global Fish Alliance. AED has a long track record of successfully implementing stakeholder engagement processes for USAID.
The meetings and interviews in Zambia and Zimbabwe were conducted in May and provided valuable information on existing mechanisms for cooperation between commercial fisheries operators and members of artisanal fishing communities, further civil society groups, private sector and public authorities. In the next phase of the project, the same group of actors will explore collective actions and mechanisms to improve governance over their fisheries, water and other shared aquatic resources.