The Case of Nach Sar National Park (NNP)
Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau, Ethiopia
This paper is about natural resource conservation approach in Ethiopia in relation to the Nach Sar National Park. It is specifically to show how the way of life, knowledge and experiences of the people who live in and around the park areas contribute to the conservation activities of the park resources. The NNP was established in 1972 aimed at protecting the wildlife and bird species, and the fascinating scenic beauty of the area for recreational, research (scientific), educational, and economic (tourist attractions) purposes. Since the conservation planners viewed the existence of people in and around the conservation areas as threat and hindrances to the conservation plan, relocation programs, imposing restrictions to uses of local resources such as grazing areas, water resources, etc have been applied as conservation strategies. Hence, conservation approach was the protectionist and conventional one, which is top-down, technocratic, and blue print where the importance of the local interest, governance, knowledge, and experiences were ignored. This has resulted in the conflicts of interest between the local communities and the conservation area management as a result of which substantial resources and efforts wasted, and social costs incurred.
However, the current development approach prescribes that development must not be formal, innovative and research based, but locally conceived and initiative, flexible and participatory. The approach reflects the recognition of the value of indigenous knowledge both to the livelihood of people and as a source of innovation and tested solutions to environment and development challenges. Accordingly, the current paper is to show that the potential contributions of the indigenous knowledge and experiences of the native Oromo people live in and around the NNP. The finding of the study indicates that these people have been evolved with those resources and developed especial adaptations with the wildlife and other resources of the area for centuries before the establishment of the park. The people have great reputations of knowledge and experiences regarding the very nature of the wildlife resource and their conservation.
For instance, the local indigenous people, the Guji Oromo who live around the NNP area are very well aware about kinds of ecology and seasons that are sound or negatively affect the reproduction and convenient living of the wild lives in the area. Similarly, they know the kind of plants and trees that negatively affect the breeding and health situations of both the domestic and wild animals and conditions favorable for the occurrences of various diseases. They intervene to avoid those effects and balancing the ecosystem by using various means like conducting seasonal burning of those tree plants and grasses to enhance sound living conditions for the domestic and wild lives of the area. They also imposed various taboos to the killing and consumptions of wildlife and their products that helped the survival of diversified wildlife species in the area. As a result, the wildlife of the area has developed especial relationship and adaptations with the settlement and grazing areas of the local people.
The Experience of the Gurage People’s Self-help Development Organization
Research Fellow (Global COE), Kyoto University, Japan
Since the 1990s, “participation” has become one of popular norms of development cooperation. It is widely believed that Community-based Organizations (CBOs) can effectively promote local democratic participation in the development process. However, this potential relationship between CBOs and development raises the question of how to characterize the relationship between a CBO and the people whom it claims to represent. It is particularly important to find out whether the organization is serving merely for the benefit of local elite or it provides a forum for discussion between groups of people with different positions.
Gurage Road Construction Organization (GRCO) is one of the most successful CBOs in Ethiopia, which is operating since 1962. It was established in Addis Abeba as an association among the Gurage migrants who came from a district in southern Ethiopia to raise fund for construction of roads and schools in their homeland. GRCO acquired wide basis of support through its negotiation with members of urban and rural communities. Leaders of GRCO intended not only to construct massive public goods in their villages but also to develop alternative social relationships for fairer redistribution of development fund.
Key Words: Community-based organization, development, redistribution, democracy, road