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POPULAR PARTICIPATION:

Governments have also been involved in setting up structures at the national level that may facilitate the participation of the affected populations and provide expertise from different sectors. The creation of these nationally-recognizable structures is useful in that they draw the attention of the public to the Convention and also raise the political profile of the Convention at the national level. Yet to ensure real participation from the local populations in the preparation of the national action plans, further decentralization of these structures is needed. This process may require not only the creation of decentralized structures, but the establishment of legal mechanisms to support these structures, as is the case in Mali.

In spite of the progress that has been made, there is still cause for concern. Several countries have already prepared their national action programmes, while others expect to complete them soon. Notwithstanding the need to take urgent measures, the preparation of practical programmes that will make a positive impact cannot be hurried. In such cases, target communities may not have been adequately consulted or properly informed.

Another concern is the tendency to superimpose old structures on a Convention that proposes a different approach, both among the developed countries and in affected developing countries. In some instances, affected developing countries have simply gone ahead and implemented the programmes they had prepared prior to the adoption of the Convention, while using the provisions of the Convention to solicit funds. Although previously prepared programmes could be implemented, it is likely that most of them require modification, especially with regard to cooperation with the local communities.