Lagoon sustainability in Sri Lanka – measuring success


February 25th, 2015

Practical Action – Sri Lanka was tasked to ensure sustainability of 18 lagoons and livelihoods in a 5 year program that began in 2012. The task was twofold; firstly, to establish and introduce an appropriate system of lagoon fisheries co-governance in selected lagoons; a model for community-led lagoon governance strengthening fishery, and secondly, to build the capacity of communities, partners and state agencies to scale up the programme to reach the estimated 75,000 small-scale lagoon fisher families who make their living from the lagoons around the island of Sri Lanka. With the completion of phase 1 of this Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods (SLL) program significant success has been achieved in reaching the initial goal of creating awareness of the co-governance system among all stakeholders as well as changing their mindsets, developing co-governance models in six lagoons in addition to conducting a series of Training of Trainers (TOT) training workshops consisting of 22 modules. Lagoon fishing Sri LankaThe task was indeed formidable, because problems and conditions in each lagoon differed from one another, requiring site specific interventions that would be sustainable. One common factor that was noted in all the selected lagoons was that previous human interventions and lack of proper governance of these lagoons had resulted in loss of livelihoods of lagoon fisher communities and created conflicts among them. The SLL program posed many challenges that required the adoption of effective methodologies to overcome them.

The stakeholders included the local lagoon communities, the local and provincial government officials, and national government administrators/policy makers, all of whom had to be made aware of as well as convinced of the importance and reliability of the proposed lagoon co-governance concept. Lagoon co-governance or collaborative governance is distinct from lagoon management. The next challenge was to build the capacity of extension officers of the Fisheries and Wild Life departments to be capable of training others in the second phase of the program to replicate the fisheries co-governance in 12 more lagoons as well as after the SLL program ends. The success of this initiative can be measured by the ceremony held on 16th of February, 2015 to award certificates to the Fisheries and Wild Life Departments’ extension officers who completed the Training of Trainers training series on Fisheries Co-Governance conducted by Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods project of Practical Action Sri Lanka.

Exchange of an amendment to MOU

Exchange of an amendment to MOU

The ceremony was presided over by the Secretary to the Fisheries Ministry Mr. Nimal Hettiarachchi. Practical Action’s Regional Director, South Asia; Mr. Achyut Luitel and Head of Quality Assurance; Mr.PremThapa were the chief guests on this occasion. Of the 31 trainees who were awarded certificates, six qualified to be nominated as Master Trainers for the training unit of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Noteworthy was the observation made by the Secretary to the Fisheries Ministry who said that prior to his Ministry’s collaboration with Practical Action in the Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods program, he had a negative view of NGOs. However, he had ample reasons to reverse his view having observed the outcomes of dedicated efforts of Practical Action’s staff and its partner Palm Foundation in achieving set goals during the first phase of the program. The 22 module training program was conducted in the Sinhala and Tamil languages as well as English during the 2 ½ year period of the program’s first phase. The purpose of the training was to equip the Fisheries Extension arm of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to replicate the fisheries co-governance model in the lagoon ecosystems in Sri Lanka. This event coincided with signing an amendment to the existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Practical Action-Sri Lanka and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, as well as the launch of two handbooks; one on Fisheries co-governance and the other on Tools for participatory methodologies for lagoon co-governance. Both publications are in the Sinhala language. The staff of Practical Action and its partner organization; Palm Foundation has every reason to feel that their dedicated initiatives and actions have resulted in a measure of success midway in the SLL program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Vasant Pullenayegem & Erwin Rathnaweera

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