A case study was made of Conkouati Project, a conservation development project in Congo-Brazzerville, during a seven month period between August 1997-Februrary 1998. Conkouati Project was one of the Global Environment Facilities (GEF) projects in Congo. The focus was on testing and refining the criteria for "community-based conservation" (CBC) by examining the history and achievements of the project to determine if it qualified as a CBC. The relationships between the project, the local population, and the reserve were described and analyzed with the objective of offering pragmatic suggestions to the World Bank (the donor), the World Conservation Union (the NGO implementing the Management Plan and running the project on the ground), and particularly local project staff and administrators. It was concluded that although Project Conkouati did not yet qualify as CBC, it had achieved significant results with baseline socio-economic studies, biodiversity inventories, establishment of infrastructure and tentative acceptance by the local population of the structure of co-management of the reserve. Recommendations were made for expanding outreach to the local population, clarifying issues of land tenure and government support, and emphasizing greater sensitivity to local values and culture. It was concluded that a smaller budget over a longer time frame would be more appropriate.

At the same time, the theory of CBC was examined, challenged, and modified. It was concluded that CBC takes a long time to establish and requires the careful building of relationships built on trust between the project staff and the local population. This was identified as on of the most important dimensions of success in CBC, along with the local population's tenurial rights to their lands. This was a qualitative and exploratory study using a variety of methods to gather information, including direct observation, a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, information conversations with local people, and a review of relevant literature. The "constant comparative method" of Glaser and Straus allowed and on-going re-evaluation of the various sources of data, and refinement of the theoretical framework.


Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy