The freshwater ecoregions of Lake Victoria, Lake Kariba and the Tonle Sap Lake are characterized by persistent poverty, high dependence on aquatic resources to provide food security and livelihoods, and intense resource competition. Moreover, significant new pressures have the potential to lead to broader social conflict if not addressed adequately. These include an increase in the number of local resource users (through population growth, migration and displacement), commercial exploitation of limited resources, competition over water for agriculture and hydropower, and climate change.
Nine countries are directly affected by the status of aquatic resources in these lakes: Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania around Lake Victoria; Zambia and Zimbabwe on Lake Kariba; and Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand in the Lower Mekong River Basin, with the Tonle Sap Lake as its most productive fishery.
Strengthening Aquatic Resource Governance (STARGO)
The STARGO project aims to build resilient livelihoods among poor rural producers who depend on the highly contested natural resources in these freshwater eco-regions, with the intent of improving nutrition, income, welfare and human security, while also reducing the likelihood of broader social conflict.
The project has developed and applied a new approach to multi-stakeholder dialogue to assess the sources of local resource conflict and identify opportunities for peace building and conflict prevention through collaborative resource management.
Working in partnership with government, community and civil society actors, the project applied a common approach to stakeholder engagement and action research called “Collaborating for Resilience,” or CORE. In each eco-region, collaborators assisted local stakeholders in developing a shared understanding of risks and opportunities, weighing alternative actions, developing action plans, implementing institutional innovations and evaluating and learning from the outcomes.
Drawing on experiences in the three eco-regions, a suite of resource materials will be released in 2014 that summarize outcomes from each of the cases, synthesize lessons for practitioners and policy stakeholders and provide guidance on tools for collaborative analysis and transformation of environmental resource conflict using the CORE approach.
The project is also developing a network of practitioners and researchers committed to information exchange and learning in this domain, across a range of natural resource systems. The long-term goal is to continue to support stakeholders to manage competing uses of resources equitably and effectively, in a way that minimizes destructive social conflict while promoting livelihood security and social-ecological resilience.