in coastal regions and in small islands
Field Project Assessment
|click image for a larger map|
Traditional yam storage and display house,
Site visit: 24th-29th
Ms. Narumon H. Arunotai (not closely associated with the project); Mr. Hans D. Thulstrup (not closely associated with the project); Mr. Haraka Gaudi (not closely associated with the project); Mr. Linus digim’Rina (closely associated with the project)
|Project and relevant documentation:||
Assessment team briefing by Mr. Linus digim’Rina on
the Trobriand Islands, followed by discussion on the form and programme
for the assessment.
Visit to Okeboma and Oluvilei villages and
surrounding forest, inspection of mango trees, other fruit producing trees
and traditional agricultural practices.
Inspection of the Okeboma coastline, primary site
for coral harvesting in Kiriwina
Community briefing and discussion with approximately
200 inhabitants from six villages in and near the project area
Inspection of mangrove canal, inlet, and lagoon
between west coast of Trobriand Island and Boymapou Island by traditional
canoe. This is an area of sea
grass beds and a major fishing area for mud crabs, shellfish, shrimps,
Visit to Kiriwina High School to inform students
about the project, the assessment mission, and other relevant issues.
Donation of UNESCO-CSI publications
to the school library.
Assessment team wrap-up meeting and discussion of main issues arising from the assessment.
Field Project Assessment
The sixteen characteristics, used to define ‘wise practices’, are used here to assess this field project. A qualitative scale is used as follows:
|None (0):||The field project activities to date do not comply with this characteristic or the characteristic is not relevant.|
|Slightly (1-3):||The field project activities to date have begun in some preliminary way to satisfy this characteristic.|
|Partially (4-6):||The field project activities to date have gone some significant way towards fulfilling this characteristic.|
|Fully (7-9):||The field project activities to date have gone the
full way to complying with this characteristic.
The assessment is based only on the activities undertaken to date and does not include those planned for the future. However, a forward-looking section has been added to the discussion of each wise practice characteristic (WPC) in which future potential developments are discussed.
|1) Have the project
activities ensured long term benefit?
A central objective of the project is the enhancement of community
resilience to extreme climatic events (e.g. droughts) through the
re-introduction of traditional fruit tree cultivation, in particular
mango, breadfruit and chestnut. The project goals and ultimate benefits
are thus inherently long-term.
Assessment: Although the survival rate of the seeds is quite low (29.8% survived, see table below), the surviving mango trees are growing and will eventually mature and bear fruit. Thus, while a central long-term benefit of the project has yet to fully manifest itself, the mango planting activities have brought with them a growing interest among village communities in re-planting fruit-bearing trees, and in changing the general attitudes towards the care for fruit trees. Observations were made of good practices such as tending the mango trees and keeping a clearing around the tree to facilitate growth. This reflects a growing understanding among some key stakeholders of the long-term benefits of the projects.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC:
Tree planting could be extended to cover other traditionally cultivated
fruit trees, beyond the current focus on mango. There is a need to ensure
stronger cooperation and effort in the communities during periods when the
project coordinator is not present. This could be achieved by building a
project team based on the existing project assistants in each village.
It is also recommended that tree-planting activity be expanded to
other villages not covered in the first phase of the project. However,
project promotion and/or awareness programs become far more effective when
one speaks with workable examples. Expansion will then be an inherent part
of the overall plan, approximately 5-7 years from now, after the mango
trees have borne fruits. The
fruits themselves will be the main drivers of the expansion program, while
the people as planters and owners become mere facilitators.
Project coordinator Dr. Linus digim'Rina with
2) Do the project activities
provide for capacity building and institutional strengthening?
Project activities have focused firstly on community consultations carried
out by the project coordinator, then on villagers engaging in tree
planting activities and subsequent monitoring of tree growth.
Other parallel activities included the compilation of Trobriand
local knowledge by Kiriwina High School students.
As the project remains very limited in scope and relies to a large extent
on the personal actions of the project coordinator who is only present at
the project site for a few weeks per year, a consistent capacity building
effort among community stakeholders should be made along with the
promotion of the communal sense of ownership towards the project. The
project was premised upon total control by and for the people.
At present, the project has been
successful in raising awareness about the importance of planting fruit
trees, however this should be seen as just the first step towards
attaining community capacity in planning and acting for sustainability and
food security for the entire island, especially for future generations.
The project provided for capacity building for
Kiriwina High School students who engaged in research on local knowledge,
they were encouraged to think about and appreciate traditional practices
which have been friendly to the environment.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: Among activities planned for when the trees begin bearing fruits are workshops or training events for project assistants, high school teachers and students, relevant local, provincial and national government agents who might be recruited to participate or even implement some of the future project activities. This would help to strengthen the continuity and consistency of project activities. Findings from local knowledge research could be incorporated into classroom learning and other school activities, thereby enhancing local content in the curriculum.
|3) Are the project
The word sustainable here could be interpreted in three ways: (1)
that the result of the project activities (tree planting) has been
achieved and there are trees which will survive, strive, bear fruit and
assure food security for villagers, (2)
that the local people have changed their attitude towards planting fruit
trees, and some are actually running the project activities themselves (by
planting, caring for and encouraging others), as in their own ways as they
stand to benefit in the long run, and (3) that
the concept/strategies of the project will be sustained, transferred,
and designed for wider dissemination (this third aspect will be discussed
in the following WPC dealing with transferability).
It is clear that
the project activities are sustainable insofar as helping to assure the
food security goal and gradually changing local people’s attitudes
towards planting and tending fruit trees (first and second
are some indications of success in the tree-planting project; for example,
some mango trees are well taken care of by the growers.
As many villagers begin to see the benefit of having more fruit
trees in their village, the spread of habitual saving and replanting seeds
should continue and sustain itself in the future.
Consequently, these practices might not continue as elements of a
project but as a generally applied food production practice.
Other project activities, however, like the
promotion of sustainable harvesting of mud crabs and corals (for
lime-powder production) will
require input from the project coordinator and his team of helpers
in order to ensure sustainability.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: Stronger involvement and a certain level of commitment are needed from other stakeholders in order to make the project more sustainable. There are several local stakeholders who could be effectively involved in the project, such as schoolteachers and students, church groups, etc. There are also national and international level organizations, e.g. Conservation International based at Alotau and the Australian Maritime Studies Institute that could contribute to the project in the future.
|4) Have the project
activities been transferred?
Mango tree planting activities have been undertaken in six villages, but
data on survival and growth exist in only
four villages. About 80 villages
all over the Trobriand Islands face the same problem of neglect of fruit
tree planting by present generations.
Although the initial activity has been limited to these 4-6
villages, there is a potential for transferring fruit tree planting to
other villages on the islands when these note the success of the pilot
villages, especially when the trees start to bear fruit.
Therefore, the activity may be transferred locally in the future,
however, such transferability is not yet visible at this stage of the
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: Other villages and the wider Trobriand Island community should be informed about the progress of the project activity. Information dissemination and inter-village communication may encourage other villages to pick up this wise practice. Kiriwina High School is the ideal place for information dissemination as the students come from villages all over the island. Many students stay in the school dormitory during weekdays and return home during weekends. They can act as agents for information and change for a more sustainable future.
|5) Are the project
activities interdisciplinary and intersectoral?
Since the project coordinator, Dr. Linus
digim’Rina, is an indigenous Trobriands Islands anthropologist, the
issue of cultural continuity and local knowledge is prominent in this
project. At the
beginning of the project, the coordinator had a chance to discuss project
activities with the staff of an AusAid-supported
reforestation program, which has a local office in the Trobriand Islands.
This program was science-based and focused on reforestation by
introducing nitrogen-fixing trees/plants.
The project activity has integrated social science, biological
science, and anthropology, especially in the issues of food security,
environmental sustainability, and conservation of traditional wise
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: The project coordinator plans to involve other academic disciplines like geography and marine science from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in the next phase of the project, especially on mangrove and mud-crab conservation. This will bring other perspectives and techniques (Geographical information systems, mapping, marine biological survey and baseline studies, etc.) into the project. A major research project for Christmas 2003 is planned within the project area. In addition, the future involvement of university students, community members, village elders, and church groups in the project will enhance these intersectoral aspects.
|6) Do the project activities incorporate participatory processes?||
The project activities were conceived and implemented through
consultation with local residents in six villages.
Consultations were carried out through open village meetings,
allowing all members of the community to take part. All key stakeholders
have been informed and all gave their approval of the activities in the
Although the activities in the project incorporate participatory
processes, stakeholder participation remains at the level of being
informed and consulted. Helping to plant and take good care of fruit tree has not yet
spread beyond the teams of project assistants established in each village.
The project coordinator, based on his past experience, has
been cautious in his approach since mobilizing efforts will be far more
effective if the project team moves with tangible examples of the concept
i.e. trees bearing fruit.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: There is a strong potential for recruiting villagers to implement project activities. There are occasional intra-village and inter-village ceremonies and rituals (such as village feasts) that provide opportunities for cooperation and commitment from villagers. The project is planning to identify ways to mobilize villagers to actively participate and contribute to the activities, perhaps by building on existing social structure and cultural practices.
|7) Do the project activities
provide for consensus building?
Before the outset of the project, the coordinator conducted
consultations with villagers and received agreement on the implementation
of activities. The six
villages showed willingness to support the project.
In the community briefing and discussion during this assessment, no
villagers expressed any opposition to the activities, and all discussions
took place against a background of general support for the tree-planting
initiative. Some villagers
asked if there were any future plan to replace the non-productive mango
seeds or future plans for related activities. Questions regarding the
project – whether to plant trees on individually owned or communally
owned land, how to share benefits, etc. – were raised by villagers.
The project activities provide for consensus building, as villagers
involved agree that planting fruit tree will eventually ensure food
security for their community. It
is the project coordinator’s deliberate strategy to target mango trees
in this project as the fruit is well-liked by villagers.
and fruits are individually owned and shared amongst family members and
friends, however, the spread of the fruits and seeds through sale and long
established avenues such as ‘gift giving’ will spontaneously
‘share’ the wisdom well beyond the project site boundaries.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: There is potential for further consensus building and perhaps setting up a ‘multi-stakeholder or wise practice agreement’ regarding environmental conservation and ensuring sustainable harvesting of forest and marine products (for example, tree-friendly activities like replanting after cutting; showing respect to the trees and not using them as spear/machete practice targets, etc.).
8) Do the project activities
include an effective and efficient communication process?
The project coordinator is based in Port Moresby and also carries
the burden of teaching, researching, and (department) administration at
UPNG. A recent survey of
mango trees growth and development was conducted by project assistants,
and questionnaires were sent to Port Moresby by post.
The project coordinator generally visits the Trobriand Islands
twice a year.
Due to the distance and difficult communication between the project
coordinator and the project sites/assistants/villagers, regular contact
and dialogue, including follow-up of project activities, are not always
possible. Communication is
conducted mainly by letters sent through surface mail or by individual
project activities were in fact conceived around the background of such
communication difficulties, that is, by leaving behind as many activities
with the people on the ground which would ensure continuity of the
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: There is a need for strong locally-based coordinators or assistants who are able to act on behalf of the project coordinator and to document project activities and lessons learnt in detail. In the future, it is possible that graduate students from UPNG who plan to do thesis/field research on the Trobriand Islands and who are willing to be involved may act as local coordinators for the project. Kiriwina High School could serve as an information center and a central point of intra-island communication as students come from different villages on the island and visit their home villages regularly.
|9) Are the project
activities culturally respectful?
identity, wisdom and practices have been the key component of the project
from the outset. Trobriand
Islanders are subsistence gardeners/horticulturalists who have retained a
self-sufficient economy for several hundred years.
This project builds on their traditional cultural practices and
seeks to strengthen the roles of local knowledge in food security
assurance and environmental conservation.
Assessment: The project is built on the traditional practice of older generations who planted fruit trees in order to provide shade and fruit for the community. Mangoes, breadfruit, chestnut, and wild avocado are economically useful as well as ecological suitable for the Trobriand Islands. Therefore, the mango planting activity aims at ensuring food security as well as continuing a traditional ‘wise practice’ which has been neglected by present generations.
Young school children prepare for yam
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: The role of local knowledge could be further focused in the next phase of the project, linking this to the educational system and the potential role of Kiriwina High School. Knowledgeable elders should be invited to participate in teaching and field exercises so that traditional ’wise practices’ could be revived and passed on. This is a long term effort and requires innovative collaboration with Kiriwina High School, the ward councilors and their respective villagers.
10) Do the project
activities take into account gender and/or sensitivity issues?
The project activities do not specifically focus
on gender issues, yet Trobriand’s matrilineal system grants roles and
privileges for women, so they are not excluded from project activities.
Mango seeds are distributed at the household level, and female-headed
households have the same opportunities to receive seeds as do male-headed
The project coordinator is himself a member of one of the Trobriand Islands
clans and holds a certain status in the village.
Therefore, some villagers may view his work on the project as a
politically motivated effort. The coordinator has taken this sensitivity into account and
as a consequence implemented the project with caution and at a deliberate
pace. Another sensitive issue concerns land tenure and ownership of fruit
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: The issue of ownership and benefit sharing should be brought up well in advance of the first substantial fruiting season so the villagers have a chance to discuss and come up with an agreement in order to prevent misunderstanding or conflict about ownership of fruit, mud crabs, mangrove building materials etc.
|11) Do the project
activities strengthen local identities?
Local identity has been under full consideration. The project
coordinator is a native of the Trobriand Islands and takes pride in his
culture and identity. Trobriand Islanders are proud of their culture and there
appears to be little immediate threat to local or cultural identity.
At the village level, villagers also have particular local
identities, and actively participate in intra-village and inter-village
rituals and feasts. Another
important local identity is gardening and food security represented by
large piles of yams kept in prominently placed display/storage
identity expressed in the manifestation of self-sufficiency and food
security will benefit the project and facilitate transferring of
fruit-tree growing activities. In
the future, neighboring villages that hear or witness the fruitful result
of tree-growing are likely to support similar activities in their
villages. In turn, the
project enables villagers to maintain a certain level of self-sufficiency.
So the project activities and the strong local identity are
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: The fact that households and villages take pride in subsistence gardening and self-sufficiency should facilitate future project activities like mangrove and mud-crab conservation. As mentioned earlier, local identity, social bonds, and villagers’ eagerness to participate in certain community functions should be the strategic point on which to build in order to ensure success in implementing future project activities.
Inspection of the mangrove forests
|12) Do the project
activities shape national legal policy?
Background: This is a small project focused on only six villages in the Trobriand Islands. There has not yet been a connection to the national legal policy, although the project has the potential to influence policies and legislation on environmental care and food security at a local level in the future.
|13) Do the project
activities encompass the regional dimension?
Although the project focuses on food security, resource
sustainability, local knowledge and traditional wise practices, it also
addresses other issues such as population pressure on a fragile
environment, degradation and depletion of resources, gradual loss of local
knowledge, increased dependency on cash economy, etc.
The issues mentioned above are relevant to many Pacific small
island community contexts. Therefore, the project activities partially
encompass the regional dimension.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: While the experiences of the project are of great potential value to small island communities across the region, no great effort has yet been made by the project to foster such contacts beyond participation in regional CSI meetings and workshops. In future, the project coordinator’s position at UPNG should allow for stronger linkages between the project and the wider region.
|14) Do the project
activities provide for human rights?
The project objectives relate to Article 25.1 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (Everyone
has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of himself and of his family).
Attaining a standard of living adequate
for health and well-being is in congruence with the food security and
self-sufficiency project objectives mentioned earlier.
The project activities contribute to the sense of independence in
terms of self-sustenance both at village and at island level.
The activities (replanting and taking care of mango trees) were not
compulsory or imposed upon the villagers.
They volunteered their own time and labor to the project.
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: The human rights issue on the Trobriand Islands also involves the rights of the next generation’s islanders to enjoy the environment and natural resources which are not totally exploited or destroyed by the present generation. Therefore, the project should stress the obligation of youth and adults of today to secure sustainable future for the next and next generations.*
|15) Have the project
activities been documented?
documents are listed in the first part of this assessment report.
The project activities have not been
Wise practice experiences in the project have not
yet been analyzed and properly presented.
This lack of documentation and dissemination of experiences has
undermined the project’s achievement and value.
The project - which is carried out in a remote and not easily
accessible place and whose coordinator is not locally-based - should focus
on documentation so that others can follow project progress and benefit from
Suggestions for strengthening this WPC: There is a need for a comprehensive project report which describes project activities, analyzes wise practice experiences, lessons learnt, problems and obstacles during the project implementation, as well as recommendations for future plans and activities. This comprehensive report and local knowledge report should then be edited and developed into a full CSI publication. The project coordinator prefers to reflect a rounded view, with the success and failure of the project, after the trees bear fruit. The comprehensive report would cover the rationale behind the project activities, sources of inspiration, local knowledge, local acceptability and/or rejection, inter-institutional collaboration, capacity building, issues of transferability, the fruits, local and national policies.
|16) Have the project activities been evaluated?||
The project activities have not been evaluated. This is the first project evaluation.
Synthesis of main issues from the assessment
project is to be commended for its firm grounding in and focus on a
traditional community self-reliance practice
that has been eroded in recent generations. By seeking to enhance community
resilience through means and methods that are both ecologically and
culturally appropriate, the project has the potential to serve as a model
for community-driven livelihood enhancement projects.
project has potential and relevance to reach a much larger group of
beneficiaries. While the very small scale of
the project can be seen as an advantage in that it retains a strong focus on
the actively participating communities, it also means that the potential for
transfer of the project to other communities within the Trobriand Islands
remains underutilized. Transfer of project activities can be initiated as
soon as the first
fruits have arrived.
While the beneficiary
communities fully support the project and its activities, there is potential
for future conflict relating to the issue of land ownership. The project has
made efforts to concentrate tree planting on communal village land. However,
due to community interests and in response to initiative shown by community
members, trees have to a wide extent also been planted on private land. The
sharing of benefits from existing trees, as well as the location of new tree
planting sites must be carefully considered by the project and appropriate models –
preferably based on traditional mechanisms of resource sharing – must be
devised to avoid potential conflict. Conflicts over land whether related to
use or access have been around for a long time.
lack of documentation of project activities is to the detriment of further
development of activities. Without appropriate
documentation it will be very difficult to generate research and other
interest in the project, which is needed to ensure sustainability of the
initiatives taken. The project is encouraged to place a much greater
emphasis on documentation of activities in future.
Future project activities
of a comprehensive project report which
describes project activities, analyzes wise practice experiences, lessons
learnt, problems and obstacles during the project implementation, as well as
recommendations for future plan and activities.
This report may eventually be edited and developed into a CSI
a strong project team based on the existing project assistants in each
village, including high school teachers and
students who might be interested in participating or even implementing some
of the future project activities. Providing
capacity building activities like workshops or training events.
Local level stakeholders such as schoolteachers, students and church groups: focus on local identity, social bonds, and villagers’ eagerness to participate in certain community functions as the strategic points on which to build in order to ensure success in implementing future project activities.
National level stakeholders such as faculty members and students from UPNG: research and field projects.
International level stakeholders such as Conservation International and Australian Maritime Studies Institute: interaction with other projects and sharing of ideas and results.
tree planting activity to cover other traditionally cultivated fruit trees
and to cover other villages not included in the first phase of the project.