The UNEP Desertification Control Programme Activity Centre (DC/PAC) hosted an international workshop on "Listening to the People: Social Aspects of Dryland Management" in Nairobi from 14-18 December 1993. This meeting brought together about 80 participants from academia, government, donor organizations and NGOs. A common theme throughout the workshop was that to be meaningful, strategies to address land degradation must result in fundamental changes to power relations between the various actors at international, national and local levels. In particular, effective communication channels are needed to enable affected communities in drought prone areas to express their needs and development priorities. Such channels would enable communities to negotiate with representatives of other groups and governments whose interests and activities impact on their livelihood.
Governments were urged to create an enabling environment for true bottom-up development by stressing a popularly-based development strategy. Recommendations included a review of inappropriate policies and legislation and the creation of conductive market conditions. Participants also called for land tenure reform, with guaranteed security of access to land to encourage proper management of resources.
Participants noted that a prerequisite to the planning of any intervention in a local community area is to recognize existing indigenous knowledge and management institutions and structures, including knowledge of production, consumption and marketing. In particular, governments and the international community should support efforts by local communities to develop environmentally sustainable marketing systems for renewable natural products from dryland areas. On gender issues, participants stressed that mechanisms for promoting the equal participation of women in the decision-making process should be supported and their productivity and independent income generating capacity strengthened.
A report and complete list of recommendations from the workshop will be circulated during this session of the INCD.
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