Monday, March 15, 2010

The (unintended?) consequences of committee formation in ICM projects

I am currently writing up a narrative on the implementation of an integrated coastal management project in Ecuador.
ICM projects in developing countries invariably establish new management organizations or committees, often at the village level. By their very construction these committees challenge pre-existing governance structures. Often the new committees are infiltrated by members of those pre-existing structures and thereby give some local legitimacy and lineage to them. However just as often the new management structures are used by ambitious but politically marginalized locals to seek increased standing in their communities.
Usually the foreign proponents of these ICM projects do not fully grasp the local political situation and so unwittingly become entangled in local political battles which have nothing to do with improving coastal management.

Perhaps instead of setting up new management organizations which can become chess pieces for local political battles, foreign ICM project implementors should try their best to work within existing local governance structures.

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