Strengthening tenure rights and community-based livelihoods

Boy gathering water, Phat Sanday, Tonle Sap, Cambodia.jpg

“The Collaborating for Resilience approach demonstrated that research can have a significant impact on policy and on the lives of poor communities by bringing together key actors, addressing conflicts in a constructive manner, and ultimately strengthening rights to resources for poor communities. Hosting a CAPRi workshop and site visit in the study area also provided a demonstration effect for researchers from other countries and spurred development of a common framework for cross-regional synthesis of lessons.”

– Ruth Meinzen-Dick, CAPRi Coordinator and Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute

CAPRi (the CGIAR Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights) is a research coalition linking all 15 CGIAR centers and over 400 national agricultural research institutes and universities. As part of a cross-regional effort assessing strategies to secure poor people’s resource rights in contested environments, CAPRi supported action research on the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the world’s most productive and diverse inland fisheries.

WorldFish, the Coalition of Cambodian Fishers, the Fisheries Administration, and the Cambodian Development Resource Institute jointly implemented a series of local, provincial, and national dialogue workshops addressing resilience of community fisheries around the Tonle Sap Lake.

Civil society networks credit the dialogue efforts in enabling regulatory change that delivered a long-sought expansion of resource access rights for small-scale fishers. The achievement boosted civil society networks around the lake, helping launch a broader campaign for reform. Within ten months, the Prime Minister publicly acknowledged widespread corruption in the administration of the commercial lot system, and announced the suspension of all remaining fishing lots on the lake. A subsequent reform made removal of the commercial lot system permanent.

New institutional connections also helped civil society groups draw support from national agencies to resolve local resource disputes. Lastly, the partnership led to a fundamental shift in strategy by the main national grassroots network in the sector, fostering constructive links with government and the formal NGO sector.

“An independent evaluation of the CAPRi-supported action research in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake cites this among “the most advanced projects” that “have conducted detailed and nuanced analyses of stakeholders and their interests to inform the development of their impact pathways.”

“In Cambodia, the partner organizations represent a variety of interests, which may have contributed to the project’s widespread acceptance and perceived legitimacy among policy makers” and explain why it “produced research that has informed decision-making . . . [and contributed to policy reform] which recognizes the rights of multiple interests, including local fishing communities.”

Source: CGIAR-IEA (2015). Evaluation of CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets. Rome: Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) of the CGIAR.