By Nidtaya Vongsith and Viriya Vilavongsa
From 23 to 26 August 2016, the outreach team carried out the by-law dissemination in Ban Dou cluster including six villages such as Nong Bua, Nong No, Nong Seng, Dou, Vangmaner and Thongxam.
Printed by-law booklets of HNN NPA were handed out, explained and discussed with villages who are members of the Co-Management Committees of Hin Nam No National Protected Area (HNN NPA) by the provincial Office for Natural Resources and Environment (PONRE) during a Co-Management Workshop at the end of 2015. Thus, this training enables us to efficiently measure how much villagers know and understand about the content on the existing rules and regulations described in the by-law. As a next step, the outreach unit can continually develop technical tools for the next dissemination in order to get villagers to know and solidify the content of the by-laws through various participative tools (such as group discussions, presentations and role-play) and enhance understanding of the park ranger’s tasks and duties.
To make this activity sustainable and to be able to identify lessons learned it is necessary that the outreach unit establishes a work plan to disseminate the by-laws to other village clusters more effectively. The implementation team consisted of five government staff from different levels including PONRE and officials from the District (Secretariat of Co-management committee, head of Outreach Unit and head of rangers) as well as one participant from the Justice Office of Boualapha District and GIZ advisors. This was considered a very practical exercise, as the official participants have clear roles and mandates within the HNN NPA co-management by-laws. This enabled a lively and fruitful discussion within the whole group.
The trainings were conducted for half a day in each of the six selected villages and in total 275 villagers (81 female) participated. Basically, the events were always opened with an introduction of the visiting team and a brief speech by the official representative to explain the reason and importance of the training, to mention the context and link to the GIZ supported HNN project as well as refreshing general understanding of the conservation in HNN NPA. The representative of PONRE, Deputy of Project Management Unit, Mr. Thanousone mentioned that “Hin Nam No National Protected Area is no property of authorities only or someone else but it is owned by everyone, so we have to protect this area together through sustainable use and for the next generations.” A goal was to encourage villagers to feel more ownership and to take over more responsibility to protect the HNN NPA on whose resources the livelihoods of the villagers rely on.
During all exercises, the team could observe that almost all villagers don’t really know the content of the by-laws. Villagers do now know how and to whom to report e.g. illegal activities within the NPA. The Co-management by-law contains clear statements about roles and responsibilities as well as rights and duties for villagers and authorities involved.
Ultimately, villagers who did not know and were not really clear about the by-laws in the beginning gained a better understanding about their role and rights concerning the HNN area. This was obvious whilst conducting activities which villagers attended very actively with questions and feedback. This training is a good entry point to continue the dissemination in other clusters.