For this to happen communities need to take collective decisions on land use and natural resource management. This is not an easy process in Anjouan due to the fragility of both ecosystems and livelihoods, but particularly because traditional power structures in communities have broken down over the last thirty years, and so the capacity for collective action is very low.
The project is facilitating the development of natural resource management groups in each village, aiming to build their capacity and ensure all stakeholders are involved in taking decisions.
The primary concern for villagers is the reduction in water availability, something they have witnessed over the course of their lifetimes, so we have started with water resources as an entry point into collective management. The project is carrying out research to map and better understand water resources and the causes of water loss in the villages where we work, which will help to identify how catchment areas can be managed to protect water resources in the long-term.
We have also facilitated the first collective actions organised by the natural resource management groups including tree planting in priority areas around water sources, and improving access to water by improving and replacing ageing water delivery infrastructure such as reservoirs and pipes. The manual work was carried out by community members on a voluntary basis, with over 400 people contributing to complete the work. This enabled us to test the nascent management groups and collective action capabilities, and identify potential local leaders.