When there is a natural resource in a commmunity, the members of that community tend to own it, and think of it as their own, as is the case with Dunga, Kusa, Koguta and the Yala swamp. Owning something, or rather presuming to own something, dictates that you have to look after it and ensure that it is well taken care of.
But many a times, especially in the case of natural resources and even more so in the ones which have no payment of ecosystem services policy, this is not the case. The community members do not recognize the function of conservation because they are only driven by harvesting and exploitation of the wetland resources for economic gain.
Even if this is so, there is an infinitesimal percentage of the community, which thinks along the line of conservation, the kind of people who can ones in a while stop and ask themselves, ‘If we as a community continue harvesting these resources unsustainably to the point of depletion, then what next?’ people who see sense in taking care of something that has been helping them feed their families and take their children to school for generations.
It is this small group of people, this minute cohort, that we have targeted in these four wetland areas, to educate, train and make them vessels and pillars of communication on conservation, wise use and sustanability, to the rest of the community.
There are numerous economic activities in these wetland areas, so we have selected persons representing each of these common interest groups, to form a Village Environment Committee whose main aim is to enable village environment grass root governance. These common interest groups include Farmers, Youths, Traders, Fishermen, Savings and loaning groups, The disabled, Professionals, Spiritual leaders, Village elders, Mining, Local administration, Conservationists, Weavers.
Through this Village Environment Committee we have been able to see the wetlands from the community’s point of view, we conducted training and workshops that have educated them on the importance of conserving their wetlands and we have also been able to come up with a joint action plan to enable the protection of the wetland from further depletion.