Project for Participatory Community Development and Integrated Management of the Alhajuela Lake Subwatershed
Republic of Panama
August 1, 2006
Alhajuela Lake sub-watershed inside the Chagres National Park
August 1, 2006 – July 31, 2011
National Environmental Authority (ANAM) of Panama
The Chagres River watershed, which includes Alhajuela Lake, is located to the east of the Panama Canal. This watershed plays an important role in insuring a stable water flow that is necessary for the transiting of ships through the Canal. At the same time, it is an important source of water for human consumption and industrial use serving more than 1.5 million people in the capital city and surrounding areas. Furthermore, it is also an important nature reserve from a global perspective due to its great biodiversity. Unfortunately, this area is being impacted by deforestation and soil degradation caused by various factors including population growth, expansion of agricultural and livestock farmland, extensive farming techniques that include slash-and-burn methods. This situation is threatening the area’s inherent function, which is to replenish the water supply.
In 1975, the Panamanian government designated 40% of the eastern basin of the Panama Canal as the Chagres National Park, and since then has been making great effort to conserve the Park’s natural environment. However, there are still inhabitants inside the Park who have been living there since before the area was established as a National Park, and who continue to practice their farming activities including the practice of slash-and-burn methods. The Panamanian government, through its National Environmental Authority (ANAM, Spanish acronym), has restricted the local communities from cutting trees and burning the land. This had incited the opposition of the inhabitants and had prevented any significant advances in environmental conservation of the area. Under such circumstances, it is of utmost importance to transfer environmentally friendly farming techniques, which would allow the conservation of the natural environment as well as the improvement of the quality of life of the local communities.
Under this context, the Panamanian government requested a technical cooperation project from the Japanese government with the objective to “establish a mechanism whereby the conservation of the eastern sub-watershed of the Panama Canal could be harmonized with farming and forest production.” The purpose of this Project is to “harmonize watershed conservation with the productive activities of the inhabitants,” and at the same time “to create a self-sustainable mechanism to give technical assistance, in other words, the systematization of ANAM’s extension service.” In practical terms, the Project is assisting ANAM in establishing an institutional system to train extension workers and to administer the planning, implementation and monitoring of its extension service in an autonomous manner. In this way, the techniques that were transferred to certain “points” by a few extension workers could be spread horizontally “throughout the area.”
Furthermore, this Project incorporates the results of activities(*1) that “harmonize watershed conservation with the productive activities of the inhabitants” from a technical cooperation project that had been implemented in the western upper-watershed of the Panama Canal. That Project was called the Project for the Conservation of the Panama Canal Watershed (hereafter, PROCCAPA) and was carried out from October 2000 to September 2005.
*1 On the basis of creating relationships of trust between the government and the inhabitants, PROCCAPA organized the farmers using participatory methods and established environmentally friendly farming techniques, such as agroforestry, contour planting and rice paddies. These techniques were transferred to the extension workers. At present, the area’s inhabitants continue to use these environmentally friendly techniques by their own initiative and in a sustainable manner.
Overall Goal: Environment friendly and sustainable production is practiced in middle and lower watersheds of Alhajuela Lake.
Project Purpose: Sustainable production techniques implemented using environment friendly and participatory methods are practiced by the established group members through the extension system of ANAM.
*2: The farmland-use plan includes activities for planting trees, which are implemented in Output 4.
*3: Besides the extension workers assigned by this Project, it is assumed that extension members could consist of park rangers and leaders of farmers. This will be defined in activity 5-1.
|1-1||Identify and select the communities.|
|1-2||Hold promotion meetings.|
|1-3||Organize or reorganize the groups.|
|1-4||Establish the place for the development of the group's activities.|
|1-5||Carry out activities for the strengthening of the groups.|
|1-6||Apply for the funds and/or assistance of other organizations.|
|2-1||Conduct field trips to demonstration plots.|
|2-2||Carry out training on topics of interest related to environment-friendly production techniques.|
|2-3||Carry out farmer-to-farmer exchange among the groups.|
|2-4||Validate techniques learned in plots established with the group's work and the extension service.|
|3-1||Carry out market research.|
|3-2||Carry out trainings on the elaboration of farmland-use plans.|
|3-3||Elaborate the farmland-use plan in harmony with the effective registration. (*4)|
|3-4||Implement the farmland-use plan with the support of the extension service from extension team.|
|3-5||Monitor the implementation of the farmland-use plan.|
|4-1||Select critical areas of common interest areas of group members and related authorities for soil restoration.|
|4-2||Carry out training in silviculture.|
|4-3||Select species to be planted.|
|4-4||Establish group nurseries.|
|4-5||Plant the trees in the selected areas.|
|4-6||Maintain reforested areas.|
|5-1||Design an extension system with consideration of the role of ANAM.|
|5-2||Elaborate a training plan for extension team, which meet the group's needs.|
|5-3||Implement the annual theory-practice training plan for the extension members.|
|5-4||Elaborate an action plan for the extension teams to provide the extension service.|
|5-5||Provide the extension service to group members.|
|5-6||Exchange techniques with other projects.|
|5-7||Compile knowledge and technique of extension service learnt through 5-2 to 5-6 into an extension guidebook for the extension members, based on the extension system designed in 5-1.|
|5-8||Elaborate a sustainable training plan for new extension team by utilizing the guidebook.|
|5-9||Provide the extension service in accordance with the extension guidebook.|
|5-10||Review the extension system upon the results if necessary, and established the extension system through 5-1 to 5-9.|
|6-1||Elaborate an action plan for environmental education.|
|6-2||Prepare and/or procure materials for environmental education.|
|6-3||Implement the action plan for environmental education.|
|6-4||Facilitate the establishment of areas for the development of environmental education activities.|
|6-5||Monitor the implementation of the action plan for environmental education and feed back the result.|
*4: This refers to Law 21 and Law 41 (the fundamental environmental laws), which established the goals for land use in the Canal basin by 2020, the “legal decrees related to environmental crimes,” and the “National Park Management Plan” that establishes the guideline for the management of Chagres National Park, including the use of land inside the Park.