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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION FOR THE PEOPLE OF SOQOTRA ISLANDS IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE GLOBAL ISLAND PARTNERSHIP

Place: yemen, Asia
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 3.090.200,00 | Period: From August 2014 To

Summary

Small isolated rural communities often live in scarcely resilient ecosystems with a limited recovery capacity if over-exploited, even if to a little extent and for a short time.

The main challenge for such communities is thus to sustain their development by limiting the use of natural resources to avoid even small and short-lived stresses to the natural ecosystem. A challenge even more demanding considering the combined effects of climate change, which further reduce the resilience of ecosystems, and the rapid evolution of socio-cultural habits generated by the spreading of the internet and its social networks.

In response to such challenge, the integration of the Socotri community's traditional knowledge with the latest technological tools has resulted into a locally owned "ecosystem governance" paradigm to: monitor the ecosystem; identify its potential evolution trends; develop innovative instruments for the sustainable use of natural resources.

Partnership

Ministry of Water and Environment of the Republic of Yemen - Yemen

Lead applicant

attività tipiche del tipo di organizzazione

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - General Directorate for Development Cooperation - Italy

Initiative partner

L’organizzazione delle attività di Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, componente essenziale della politica internazionale dell'Italia, fa parte dei compiti del Ministero degli Affari Esteri (MAE), che demanda tali attività alla Direzione Generale per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo (DGCS) che è l’organo preposto ad attuare tale politica, in attuazione della legge n.49/87. La DGCS attua le linee di cooperazione e le politiche di settore nei diversi Paesi, stabilisce rapporti con le Organizzazioni Internazionali, con l’Unione Europea e con le Organizzazioni non governative; programma, elabora ed applica gli indirizzi della politica di cooperazione e le politiche di settore tra cui sanità, ambiente e sviluppo imprenditoria locale; realizza iniziative e progetti nei Pvs; effettua interventi di emergenza e fornisce aiuti alimentari; gestisce la cooperazione finanziaria e il sostegno all’imprenditoria privata e alla bilancia dei pagamenti dei Pvs; promuove e realizza la cooperazione universitaria.

United Nations Development Programme - Yemen Country Office - Yemen

Initiative partner

UNDP advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our partners. As Yemen enters into the most critical phase of the Transition (2012-2014), marked by a series of overlapped processes to be achieved in just 12 months, our vision is to play a leading role specifically during 2012-2014 in addressing urgent tasks and action of the Government Transitional Program for Stabilization and Development (2012-2014) as a result of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement that was signed in November 2011 by Yemeni political figures to save Yemen from falling under civil strife trap.

Small isolated rural communities often live in scarcely resilient ecosystems with a limited recovery capacity if over-exploited, even if to a little extent and for a short time. The main challenge for such communities is thus to sustain their development by limiting the use of natural resources to avoid even small and short-lived stresses to the natural ecosystem. A challenge even more demanding considering the combined effects of climate change, which further reduce the resilience of ecosystems, and the rapid evolution of socio-cultural habits generated by the spreading of the internet and its social networks. In response to such challenge, the integration of the Socotri community's traditional knowledge with the latest technological tools has resulted into a locally owned "ecosystem governance" paradigm to: monitor the ecosystem; identify its potential evolution trends; develop innovative instruments for the sustainable use of natural resources.

The initiative's main innovation consists in the successful integration of the local community's traditional knowledge with the latest technological tools to put in place a set of natural resources management practices which, systemically combined together, constitutes a locally owned "ecosystem governance" paradigm for the Archipelago. These management practices include:

- fog and rainwater harvesting, to increase both quantity and quality of fresh water availability while limiting the use of the scarce groundwater resources, as well as avoiding the loosing into the sea of the water runoffs from the erratic but intense rainfall events;

- adventure eco-tourism activities integrating under-water scuba-diving, endemic birds and plants species watching, as well as cultural heritage valorization and landscape sightseeing;

- sustainable livesestock grazing and agricultural crops for both self-consumption (e.g. home gardens) and higher-value commercial niche trade (e.g. aloe, honey).

Logical reference framework. The projects' logical reference framework.
Management action fact sheet. Locally owned "ecosystem governance" system: management action fact sheet (partial view).
Working on planning analyses. Project staff working on the "ecosystem governance" system.

The Soqotra Archipelago is a globally significant centre of biodiversity ranked among the top ten islands in the world in terms of botanical diversity, with high levels of endemism.

The Archipelago of Soqotra has an arid climate and experiences a serious scarcity of water; it is probably the poorest and most disadvantaged area of Yemen, where human development efforts and support from the international community, have only started in recent years.

For centuries, the Archipelago has been largely inaccessible and the local people have developed a way of life and a series of traditional practices that have led to the careful husbandry of natural resources, with low levels of threats to habitats and species. However with the construction of the airport in 1999, and generally the opening up of the island to the outside world, new threats have arisen from external development drivers population increase and internal development pressures from the local communities. 

Arid climate and water scarcity. Socotra arid landscape.
Dorstenia soqotrana. An endemic species of Socotra.

The initiative has delivered many tangible results, which full listing is outside the scope of this presentation. Those more relevant to the innovations presented in this assessment are:

  - a participative "ecosystem governance" institutional mechanism, supported by a database and a decision support system (DSS), to balance social, economic and environmental objectives of sustainable development policies, plans and programs.

- an innovative system for rainwater harvesting to provide high-quality fresh water to the most disadvantaged communities of Socotra;

- an array of innovative management paradigms implemented to preserve Marine Protected Areas, fishery resources, and endemic plant and animal species while valorizing them to sustain eco-tourism activities;

- sustainable livestock grazing rotational schemes and home gardens established to ensure food security, to increase both quantity and diversity of food to integrate the traditional low-vitamin diet of the Socotri. 

Adventure excursions Excursions in Socotra
Arts and crafts Arts and crafts of Socotra.
Bird watching Socotra bird-watching
Collecting water Plastic pipe for collecting water from the roofs
Endemic plant nursery Socotra endemic plant nursery
Kareefs ready for use Water harvesting in Socotra
Rainwater harvesting Rainwater harvesting in Socotra
Unique landscapes Socotra landscape

Beneficiaries of the initiative include a broad range of target groups such as government institutions (EPA and local Councils in the first place), local communities, NGOs, private sector, and the people of Socotra at large.

With specific reference to the results outlined in Step 4, the project has provided a significant improvement of living conditions among the most isolated and disadvantaged communities, with respect to both economic income and, more important, public health (e.g. improving hygiene condition thanks to the increase in water availability; limiting human-livestock transfer of diseases through better livestock management) as well as water and food security (e.g. diversifying the traditional diet, specifically integrating it with vitamins and iron).
 

Peoples of Socotra People of Socotra
La Cooperazione Italiana a Soqotra 1/2 Sustainable development and biodiversity conservation for the people of Soqotra islands in the framework of the Global Island Partnership
La Cooperazione Italiana a Soqotra 2/2 Sustainable development and biodiversity conservation for the people of Soqotra islands in the framework of the Global Island Partnership
Peoples of Socotra The main beneficiaries of the project: the peoples of Socotra

The initiative has been implemented under the coordination of Programme Management Unit (PMU) comprising a Chief Technical Advisor, a Programme Manager, a financial/administrative assistant, and secretarial and logistics supports.
In order to develop locally owned solutions to sustainable development, all technical and operational activities of the project have been executed by a number of sector thematic working groups (SWG) composed by:

- EPA and other Socotri instructional staff;
- Italian Cooperation Technical Experts;
- Scientific researchers of the Universities of Rome and Pavia.  

The said SWGs have covered such sectors as Plant Ecology, Animal Ecology, Marine Biology, Health, Water science, Energy-Infrastructure-Waste, Socio-Economic Development.

Plant trees survey 1 Locally owned solutions through joint work between Socotri and Italian Cooperation staff
Plant trees survey 2 Locally owned solutions through joint work between Socotri and Italian Cooperation staff
Water sampling Locally owned solutions through joint work between Socotri and Italian Cooperation staff

No particular obstacle has hampered the course of the project implementation, mainly because the very project was built upon years of previous collaboration with both Socotri institutions and local communities.

The only problem encountered has been the deterioration of the Yemen overall stability and security conditions related to the 2011 Arab spring which, despite they didn't affect Socotra but rather the Yemeni mainland, have finally impeded to fully complete the project since international staff was not allowed to reach Socotra.

The environmental conservation goal pursued by the initiative through a systemic and integrated approach, has constituted in itself the most important asset to assure the environmental sustainability of its implementation and results. Indeed, as seen in previous Steps, all project activities have been successfully targeted to preserve the Socotra ecosystem integrity, functions and resilience.

The innovative "ecosystem governance" paradigm, successfully applied in the Socotra Archipelago, can be easily replicated in other similar contexts thanks to its simplicity in both the conceptual approach and practical implementation methods.

Just two examples of subsequent projects funded by the Italian Development Cooperation adapting the same methodological approaches: The Limpopo Trans-boundary Programme in Southern Africa and the Protected Areas Management Project in Albania.

www.limpopo-tp.net (Limpopo Trans-boundary Programme in Southern Africa)

http://www.iucn.org/about/union/secretariat/offices/europe/about/places/belgrade/projects/?8591/Institutional-Support-to-the-management-of-Protected-Areas-in-Albania  (Protected Areas Management Project in Albania)
 

The project has been built upon the lessons learned throughout the implementation of environmental projects funded by the Italian Development Cooperation in more than a decade and, similarly, the dissemination of its innovative methodological approaches have then been mainstreamed into the design and execution of subsequent projects.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Document Toward Systemic and scientifically objective sustainability in development and conservation. Edizioni Nuova Cultura - ISBN: 9788868120429 (Forewords by the Director General of the Italian Development Cooperation)