Macedonia - Integrated Water Resources Management in the Prespa region through participatory processes and dialogue

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Nature brings neighbours together

Albania, Greece and Macedonia haven't always seen eye-to-eye on political issues, but when it comes to the environment they all recognize the importance of teaming up to preserve Lake Prespa, a natural resource that intersects all three countries.

Lake Prespa is important because it provides a habitat for a multitude of wild animals and plants, some of which do not live anywhere else in the world. Thousands of birds spend the winter there or stop on their way from Eurasia to Africa. With its vast array of animal and plant life, the area is also a popular tourist destination.

Cooperation among the three countries has culminated in a $4.3 million joint initiative that aims to preserve the ecosystems for the birds, fish, rare plants and mammals living around Lake Prespa. The project, which started earlier this year and will conclude in 2010, will teach farmers how to reduce their use of pesticides while still making a profit. It aims to protect 6,000 hectares of forest and improve the management of the ecosystem and the transboundary water resources.

The problem with the lake is that local inhabitants have not been taking good care of the Prespa area, which covers over 1,600 square kilometres and includes 28,900 inhabitants, with over 75 percent of the population found in Macedonia. People got in the habit of dumping their farm, industrial and household waste near Lake Prespa, cutting the trees and using too many pesticides in the production of apples and beans, damaging the water quality.

Illegal dumping of household and industrial waste has particularly affected the Golemka River, the largest tributary to Lake Prespa. One local mayor didn't mince his words when talking about the problem.

"I have to admit that the biggest river in the Prespa region is our biggest embarrassment", says Dimitar Buzlevski, Mayor of the nearby town of Resen. "It affects the overall image of our unique natural resources and it is the main source of pollution into Lake Prespa".

Several years ago government officials, local stakeholders and non-governmental organizations from all three neighbouring countries joined forces with one goal: to tackle the problems and to protect Prespa. This resulted in the reduction of waste dumped in the area, better agriculture practices and more sustainable use of natural resources of the region.

All sides believe that the partnership will succeed in making the region a better place for its inhabitants.

Context

Integrated Water Resources Management in the Prespa region through participatory processes and dialogue

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Lake Prespa Watershed region, Municipality of Resen, Macedonia (involving parts of Albania and Greece)

Stakeholders

UNDP CO Macedonia has gone in direct partnership with local communities, industries, governments and donors to carry out a number of Water Resources Management related interventions in the Lake Prespa Watershed region.

Contacts

Akihito Kono (Mr.),


Contents

Background and Significance

Background

Prespa Lake
Prespa Lake

At the heart of this region, there is Lake Prespa, which is the second largest natural lake in Macedonia and encompasses parts of Albania and Greece. The lake is an important source of natural and economic resources for the livelihood of its nearby residents and home to several endemic bird and aquatic species. This region on the Macedonian side covers an area of 775 square kilometres and lies directly on the Lake Prespa Watershed; therefore, the surface runing water in the region generally flows into the lake.

Even without complete inventories for most groups, the Prespa watershed can be said to have a unique species assemblage by international standards. This uniqueness reflects the adaptation of the flora and fauna to the different rock types in each mountain range (mainly silicate and limestone), the different soil types present, the range in altitude (850-2641m) and the influence of both Mediterranean and Continental climates. It also reflects the isolation of the aquatic flora and fauna of the lakes over the last 12 million years, and the relative isolation of the high altitude flora and fauna on the surrounding mountain ranges, which acted as refuges during the Pleistocene ice ages. The relatively low human population is also a factor although the impact of development on biodiversity has been mainly at low altitude. These and other factors have resulted in a flora and fauna that is globally unique:

The following four interventions have been carried out in the Prespa region, approximately 200 kilometers south of the Macedonian capital of Skopje, to help maintain and improve both the ecological integrity and livelihoods of the region. In this region, there are a number of serious environmental issues related to water resources management, which directly affect the local residents, economy and ecosystems.


Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities (first project in the region, on-going (most major activities completed))

Focus: Establishment of waste management systems in a total of 37 rural villages along the shorelines of Lake Prespa, and collaboration with local communities to introduce alternative waste disposal methods at the household level.

Before this intervention, the Public Enterprise, “JKP Proleter” was providing waste collection services to only two villages in the Prespa region, while the number of illegal dumpsites and volumes of illegal wastes at those dumpsites had increased drastically during a few years prior to the intervention.

The Public Enterprise was unable to provide the similar solid waste collection services to the rest of the villages in the region due to the high costs of transportation of waste materials and a lack of waste transport vehicles.

"Most of the villages (37) had no organized system for the collection, transportation and disposal of solid wastes. The household wastes were often dumped illegally at many different locations along rivers and lake to cause negative environmental and social impacts in our daily lives," Mr. Muzafer Murati, general Manager of Public Enterprise, “JKP Proleter” said.


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture in the Lake Prespa region (completed in April 2006 )

Focus: collaboration with the local apple farmers to reduce negative environmental impacts from unsustainable use of pesticides, fertilizers and irrigated water in the local farming practices, while enhancing their productivity in a sustainable manner.

Before this intervention, apple farming in this region was conducted in an unsustainable manner. The uncontrolled use of pesticides, fertilizers and irrigated water had contributed to the increased production costs and caused negative environmental impacts consequently affected affecting the ecosystem of Lake Prespa.

"We were aware that apple farming in the region caused serious pressure on the local environment, so we had to find a way to make it more sustainable and environmentally friendly but at the same time to maintain or increase our productivity, as it was our main source of income," Mr. Naumce Toskovski, President of Agricultural Associations Union said.


Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river) (on-going)

Focus: Involvement of affected communities and industries in the formulation process of the Golema Reka (river) Restoration Plan and its implementation phases.

Series of problems have been identified during the preliminary analyses of Golema Reka’s environmental status. Illegal dumping of household and industrial wastes by neighbouring residents and industries is the main source of pollution in Golema Reka, which is the largest tributary into Lake Prespa. Unsustainable agricultural land use, intense human activities in the river delta and illegal tree felling in the river basin have all contributed to the declining conditions of the river, which is seriously affecting the region’s ecosystem. The river is now more prone to flooding to cause both economic and environmental impacts due to erosion and deposition, and the fish population in the river, which 30 years ago was reported as very rich, is now virtually nonexistent due to pollution.

"I have to admit that the biggest river in the Prespa region is our biggest embarrassment. It affects the overall image of our unique nature and most importantly is the main source of pollution into Lake Prespa. If we soon don’t do anything to improve the current river’s conditions, we cannot expect that we will not be able to revive the tourism in Prespa, which largely depends on the natural beauty of the region," Mr. Dimitar Buzlevski, Mayor of Resen Municipality (Prespa) said.


Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

Focus: Engaging local stakeholders from all three neighbouring countries to achieve integrated ecosystem management of the international water resources for environmentally, economically and socially sustainable development.

Current water resources management practices in agriculture, forestry; fishery, land-use planning and public services sectors in the trans-boundary Prespa region are not sustainable. Rapid sedimentation at river mouth due to erosion caused by deforestation, direct household and industrial waste discharges into lake, urban and agricultural land encroachment into marsh areas of the lake, on which birds and aquatic species depend and unsustainable fisheries and agricultural practices are some of the main environmental issues. There are also regional economic development issues such as overcoming inefficient border crossing procedures and logistics to stimulate regional economic trades.

“We expect that this project will strengthen the capacity of Albania and Macedonia to oversee our key natural resource and economic sectors in a much more sustainable manner and also to establish a closer working relationship with Greece to tackle the issues of water resources management and related economic development at Lake Prespa,” Mr. Dimitar Buzlevski, Mayor of Municipality of Resen said.

Goal and Objectives

The following four interventions have been carried out under the common vision that all actions taken should reflect as much as possible the interests and needs of most stakeholders to realize sustainable outcomes. Therefore, the active participation of all stakeholders in planning and implementation phases and multi-faceted problem solving approach based on the principles of integrated environmental management have been vigorously pursued throughout all four interventions.

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

  • Establishment of sustainable solid waste management systems in the rural communities on the shoreline of Lake Prespa to mitigate negative environmental impacts to the Prespa Watershed caused by unsustainable soil waste dumping practices through provision of solid waste collection and management systems and awareness raising among local communities to practice solid waste minimization and collective waste management approach.

Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

  • Promotion of environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural practices in the farming communities of the Prespa region through direct capacity building and introduction of the integrated agricultural production approach.

Specific objectives were:

  • Reduction of number of pesticide applications and excessive soil nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) levels through the establishment of scientific monitoring system and community-based information sharing system
  • Demonstration of sustainable irrigation practices for wise use of ground and surface water resources through piloting alternative apple orchard management ground and surface water resources
  • Promotion of trans-boundary cooperation in agriculture between Macedonia and Albania in the Prespa region through sharing of knowledge and best practices
  • Promotion of active involvement in the project activities by local communities through participatory consultation and implementation of project activities by community members, for them to take ownership of the project.

Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

  • Improvement of environmental conditions of Golema Reka through restoration activities and introduction of sustainable practices to a wide range of river users and affected communities through participatory consultation processes to ensure the reflection of local community interests in project activities and long-sustainability of the project outcomes

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

  • To catalyse the adoption of integrated ecosystem management in the trans-boundary Prespa Lakes Basin of Macedonia, Albania, and Greece to conserve globally significant biodiversity, mitigate pollution of the trans-boundary lakes, and provide a sustainable basis for the Basin’s further social and economic development, all through active participation of local stakeholders in various project phases and decision making processes

The Experience: Challenges and Solutions

WHAT

Pelican
Pelican

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

This intervention focused on supporting the efforts and initiatives of the local communities and government to establish effective waste collection and management systems in all villages within the Municipality of Resen. To do so, the active involvement of all stakeholders from the planning to implementation phases and establishment of close working relationships among all stakeholders including council representatives from 37 villages, the Municipal authorities, Public Enterprise “JKP Proleter”, and NGOs were extremely vital.

The active participation by and close working relationships among all stakeholders had allowed this intervention to achieve installation of 2600 waste bins at the household level throughout 37 villages, successful awareness raising campaigns to introduce household waste reduction methods to individual households and establishment of solid waste collection and management systems through the direct capacity of Public Enterprise “JKP Proleter”.

The uniqueness of this particular intervention lies in the fact that it had approached the region’s solid waste management issues from both the public services and community participation angles to make sure that the provision of solid waste collection and management services would not simply lead to more wastes produced by the communities, so, in parallel, the communities were introduced to household waste minimizing techniques. Therefore, solutions were sought out based on giving consideration to many important aspects such as local environmental protection, local livelihood and economy, local government’s support capacity, and local waste management capacity at both the service provider and recipient levels, all in a participatory manner. This at the time was a very new and unique approach in the country.


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

This intervention’s primary emphasis was given to the improvement of access to technical assistance by local farmers through farmers associations in the region. The technical assistance provided to farmers through this intervention includes the provision of scientifically monitored agricultural climate data to advise farmers to regulate pesticide application and irrigation cycles and technical extension support for achieving economically and environmentally sound agricultural practices. In addition, the intervention had encouraged participating five farmers associations to form a union to consolidate their limited resources and capacities to become an implementing partner of the intervention. The size of the union has grown significantly since, and it now covers over 40 villages in the region. The union has become a vital information sharing and gathering network during and after the intervention to promote sustainable agriculture in the region.

This intervention has affected many people in the region since apple farming is the region’s biggest industry, employing a large number of people.

Therefore, the public interest in this intervention was very strong, and its unique structure to implement activities in a highly participatory manner has provided farmers with incentives and willingness to cooperate with the intervention and take long-term responsibility to maintain the transferred technical capacities and resources and progressively advance the outcomes of the intervention. In addition, the Institute of Agriculture, which provided experts during the intervention, has now established a close working relationship with the union to help them with technical issues.


Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

Currently a team of experts has been undergoing the process of defining best suitable restoration and protection parameters and activities. Once the parameters and activities are defined, the implementation the defined items should take place and result in: (a) restoration of the riverbeds and the riparian corridors; (b) mitigation of solid waste and wastewater pollution; (c) improved conditions in adjacent marsh areas; (d) improved land use practices and planning; (e) establishment of advanced river monitoring systems; and, (f) increased public awareness about the importance of local river ecosystems and water resources.

The defined parameters and activities will be put in priority order for implementation through a series of stakeholder consultation meetings to ensure the reflection of interests and needs of most stakeholders during the implementation phase to derive sustainable outcomes. This flexible prioritization approach to incorporate as much as possible the interests and needs of stakeholders into project parameters and activities makes this intervention very unique. This approach has been adopted based on lessens-learnt from the previous interventions in the region.

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespaby Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

From 2004 to 2005, the Prespa Park project as the GEF PDF-B phase was carried out. The specific objectives of this PDF-B phase were: (i) to elaborate on the technical basis of the full sized project; (ii) to establish the project's management structure and coordination mechanisms; and, (iii) to put in place the stakeholder participatory mechanism required for the successful future implementation of the full-sized project.

The production of a full-size GEF Project Brief was the primary objective of this project phase, and it was successfully realized.

Through this intervention, the creation of trans-boundary ecosystem management model, which could be replicated elsewhere in the world, is expected as one of the major outcomes, and such model will be formed based on lessens-learnt from the other interventions in the region.

Some of the most unique characteristics of this intervention should be found in its trans-boundary nature of issues and problem solving approaches.

WHO

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

Project Implementation: UNDP in partnership with the Public Enterprise “JKP-Proleter” (Municpality)

Stakeholders: 37 affected communities and Municipality of Resen

Beneficiaries: 2600 affected households in 37 rural villages in the Municipality of Resen and natural environment of Resen


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

Project Implementation: UNDP in partnership with the Union of Agricultural Associations Stakeholders: local farmers, farmers associations, Union of Agricultural Associations , Municipality of Resen, and Agricultural Extension Service

Technical Cooperation by: Institute of Agriculture in Skopje

Beneficiaries: local farmers, particularly apple farmers, Farmers Associations, Union of Agricultural Association and natural environment of Resen


Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

Project Implementation: UNDP in partnership with the Municipality of Resen

Stakeholders: affected communities, Municipality of Resen, local Public Enterprises in charge of wastewater and forestry, local businesses/industries, and NGOs.

Support provided by: local media

Beneficiaries: affected communities, Municipality of Resen, local Public Enterprises, local businesses/industries and natural environment of Resen.


Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespaby Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

Project Implementation: UNDP-Macedonia and UNDP-Albania

Stakeholders: affected communities, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning (Macedonia), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Water Management (Albania), Municipality of Resen (Macedonia), Regional Council of Local Government – Korca (Albania), Commune of Liqenas (Albania), Commune of Proger(Albania, Municipality of Prespa (Greece), NGOs and relevant institutions

Beneficiaries: affected communities, National, Regional and local governments of Macedonia, Albania and Greece in the Prespa Watershed region and natural environment of the Prespa Watershed region

WHERE

The Prespa Watershed region shared among three countries: (i) Macedonia; (ii) Albania; and, (iii) Greece. In Macedonia, the region is located at the southwestern tip of the country, approximately 200 kilometers from Skopje. The Municipality of Resen covers the Prespa Watershed region in Macedonia, and the regional commercial center is the Town of Resen.

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

The project was conducted in 37 villages in the Lake Prespa Watershed of roughly 1000 square kilometres. The total population of the project areas was 8,100 inhabitants. Prior to the project, the Public Enterprise, “JKP Proleter” was providing limited waste collection services in the area because of it financial constraints.


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

The project covered an area of 3500 ha in the middle of the Prespa Valley, which offers good access to water resources from tributaries of Lake Preapa and the lake itself. This area has the highest concentration of apple farmers producing the largest amount of apples in the region. There are farmers associations and associations union active in the entire region.


Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

The project covers the entire Golema Reka (river) basin of 231 square kilometres, which stretches over 85 kilometres, in the Prespa region. This is the largest river basin in the Greater Lake Prespa Watershed covering the Town of Resen, the largest settlement in the region and several rural villages surrounding the town. Currently since the most of pollutants come from the Town of Resen and its surrounding areas, the majority of project activities have been focused on the urban section of Golema Reka.


Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

The Lake Prespa Watershed region covers the total area of roughly 1,600 square kilometres connecting three countries: (i) Macedonia (1000 sq. km); (ii) Albania (260 sq. km); and, (iii) Greece (340 sq. km). The population of the entire region is approximately 28,900, and nearly 75% of the total population can be found in Macedonia. The rest of it is found in Albania (17%) and Greece (8%). The average per capita income in each country within the Lake Prespa Watershed region differs as follows: (a) $2,000 in Macedonia; (b) $ 700 in Albania; and, (c) $10,000 in Greece. The region’s main industry is agriculture, and about 75% of the labour force is engaged in agriculture.

WHEN

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

The implementation period for this project was 13 months, which was sufficient to complete the majority of the planned activities. However, due to difficulties in procurement, there are a few minor activities not yet completed. Those activities, however, will be completed soon.

Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

The implementation period for this project was 15 months, which was sufficient to deliver the projected outputs. However, the follow up actions were needed to further enhance the project outcomes on the ground. For this, the Project Implementation Unit supported the Farmers Associations’ Union, as part of it capacity building programme, to help draft an application to the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). Currently, the Farmers Associations’ Union is implementing a follow-up project funded by the GEF SGP.

Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

The project is designed to continue for 2 years. It is now in the planning phase for various restoration activities. Following the initial planning phase, a list of prioritized activities, based on local environmental, economic and social needs and available resources within the given timeframe, will be finalized and implemented accordingly.

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

The project will be carried out over a 5-year period from late 2006 to 2010. Presently, the Project Management Unit is based in the Town of Resen and in the staff recruiting phase. The project is expected to commence later this year as soon as the project agreement document is signed by all three countries.

HOW

Monitoring Equipment
Monitoring Equipment

The steps taken during the following four interventions are described in a chronologically descending order from the initial step taken at the beginning of each intervention to the final step/most current step taken for those on-going initiatives.


Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

This intervention was executed by UNDP CO Macedonia and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

  • Facilitation of stakeholder consultation meetings to involve all stakeholders (Municipality, Public Enterprise“JKP-Proleter”, village residents and local NGO), and to gather inputs from and promote active participation by all stakeholders
  • Procurement of two vehicles for garbage collection and 2,600 garbage bins to be installed at all households in 37 rural communities
  • Facilitation of clean-up and re-cultivation activities at 7 illegal dump sites in the municipality
  • Introduction of alternative composting techniques through, for example, setting up 15 pilot composting sites at household level
  • Facilitation of public awareness raising activities in partnership with local NGOs to reduce solid waste outputs and illegal solid waste dumping
  • Construction of children’s playground and basketball field in former illegal dump site in Village Stenje (on-going)
  • Provision of a ball press to the Public Enterprise for balling plastic waste bottles and waste bins for collection of plastic bottles (on-going)

Throughout this intervention, the collaboration among all stakeholders were ensured through clear identification of benefits/incentives for each stakeholder while assuring the participation of all affected stakeholder and relevant interest groups in all of the above actions taken. This approach has helped make this intervention a genuinely local-stakeholder-driven initiative and create a sense of ownership of the intervention outcomes among all stakeholders. Lastly, this stakeholder-driven and holistic problem solving approach is what makes this intervention unique and innovative in the country.


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

This was a UNDP RBEC funded and administered intervention, executed by UNDP CO Macedonia

  • Facilitation of stakeholder consultation meetings among all stakeholders (Municipality, agricultural associations, and agricultural extension service) to identify intervention’s specific parameters and processes
  • Facilitation of a capacity-building needs assessment of agricultural associations and agriculture extension service (development of a capacity building programme)
  • Provision of assistance to form and legally register a union of agricultural associations, which included five agricultural associations and village leaders who dealt with those associations in the region
  • Identification of suitable locations for placing agricultural pest and disease control monitoring stations, and procurement of required monitoring devices
  • Establishment of agricultural pest and disease monitoring stations at identified locations and information collection and linkage systems, and provision of training – in partnership with Institute of Agriculture in Skopje - to designated station/system keepers from the Union of Agricultural Associations and extension service to properly use and maintain stations/systems to provide useful technical advice on effective pest and pesticide application cycle management to local farmers
  • Installation of irrigation control systems in five different locations to monitor irrigation patterns in order to identify possible ways of reducing excessive water use, and provision of technical training in the sustainable irrigation usage to individual farmers and members of the Union of Agricultural Associations and agricultural extension service
  • Provision of technical training on economically and environmentally sound fertilizer application techniques
  • Production and dissemination of a handbook on economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices for local farmers (pesticide, fertilizer and water application techniques)
  • Establishment of a soil-testing laboratory and technical capacity-building of laboratory staff in partnership with the Municipality and Institute of Agriculture in Skopje to further improve pesticide, fertilizer and water application techniques in the region through analyzing concrete scientific data and providing scientifically-based recommendations to local farmers
  • Facilitation of promotional activities to encourage farmers to make use of the services provided by the laboratory
  • Provision of technical support to the Union of Agricultural Associations to formulate and secure resources for follow-up actions of their own (through GEF-SGP), along with the transfer of ownership of the laboratory and monitoring stations to the Union

Throughout the intervention, as seen in the previous one, a participatory and holistic problem solving approach was widely practiced to create a sense of ownership of the intervention outcomes among stakeholders. In addition to the conventional capacity-building activities to promote sustainable agricultural practices, the introduction of advanced scientific monitoring system has greatly supplemented the conventional activities and contributed the delivery of concrete and tangible outcomes of this intervention, which will continue to assist local farmers to make the region’s agriculture more sustainable. The basic mechanisms of this scientific monitoring system should be replicated throughout the country to help assist farmers to practice economically and environmentally sound agriculture in Macedonia.


Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

This is a UNDP CO Macedonia executed and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation funded intervention.

  • Facilitation of a preliminary assessment on the river’s environmental status and environmental impacts, specifically caused by human activities to determine intervention parameters and specific courses of action for river restoration
  • Selection of service providing company, based on the identified parameters and courses of action, to conduct restoration activities (beginning with the formulation of a river restoration plan and identification of specific restoration activities)
  • Facilitation of an awareness raising campaign through community consultation workshops and field visits to promote participation by a wide range of stakeholders
  • Establishment of a public inquiry mechanism within the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) to provide information to concerned stakeholders and incorporate as many public options as possible in the restoration plan and activities through the service providing company (a service contract b/w PIU and the service providing company obliges the service providing company to maintain open dialogue and practice participatory decision making with all relevant stakeholders – Municipality, Public Enterprises, local industries, communities and NGOs - throughout all intervention processes)
  • Prioritization and implementation of the identified activities in the river restoration plan (current state)

This is an on-going intervention, and various lessens-learnt from the previous two interventions are well incorporated into this intervention. Therefore, the main approach of this intervention is both participatory and holistic to address and solve issues in a multifaceted manner.


Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespaby Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

This intervention is executed jointly by UNDP CO Macedonia and UNDP CO Albania and funded through the Global Environmental Facility.

This is a full-size GEF Project executed by both UNDP CO Macedonia and UNDP CO Albania and co-financed by both National Governments

Although there has been a series of preparatory activities conducted as part of GEF PDF phases, the main intervention is still at the very initial stage where both the National Governments are preparing to sign an agreement to officially commence its activities. This is expected to take place later this year. Once the intervention begins, a long list of activities will be carried out to achieve following outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Stakeholders establish land and water use management basis for maintaining and restoring ecosystem health in the Prespa Lake Watershed Region.
  • Outcome 2: Stakeholders modify productive sector resource management practices to reduce pesticide inputs, increase habitat heterogeneity, and improve the status of target species and communities within the national sectors of the Prespa Basin.
  • Outcome 3: Stakeholders conserve priority biological diversity across the Prespa region and make key protected areas in Prespa Watershed region fully operational.
  • Outcome 4: Stakeholders build upon ongoing trans-boundary cooperation in the Prespa region by strengthening the coordination mechanism and piloting trans-boundary conservation and water management.
  • Outcome 5: Lessons-learnt and adaptive management of project.

Results and Impact

Through several on-going and past interventions in the Prespa region, UNDP Macedonia has successfully spearheaded the principles of the integrated ecosystem management approach to help improve the region’s current water use patterns and practices. In this, UNDP Macedonia has actively promoted the engagement of local stakeholders at all levels thought consultation processes to deal with the region’s water resource management issues in the most holistic manner, enabling its projects to implement activities at all possible levels (policy, industry and community). Achievements so far through the following four interventions: (i) reducing environmental impacts of agriculture; (ii) restoration of the river Golema Reka; (iii) supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities; and (iv) beginning of ntegrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Prespa Lake by Albania, Greece and Macedonia.

Lessons for Replication

Given that the following four interventions have been carried out within the same municipality, lessens-learnt from each intervention have been shared effectively among the other interventions to mitigate potential failures and replicate best practices throughout the region. Since the local government has been an active counterpart in all four following interventions, they have been able to capacity-build themselves through gaining hands-on experiences through the interventions to prepare themselves to carry out independently and successfully their own sustainable natural resource management initiatives in the future.

However, from the implementation point of view, and given the nature of many stakeholders’ sensitive views toward one’s association with a particular political party in the region, one of the major logistical challenges has been to clarify with stakeholders that UNDP CO Macedonia has not been in support of any particular political party through these four interventions. For this, a stronger effort has been needed to help stakeholders see each intervention’s true objectives to achieve long-term sustainable development results. This is particularly a large challenge for the Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia, given the cross-boarder nature, complexity and dynamics of stakeholders involved in this particular intervention.


Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

Successes

  • The intervention’s participatory and multifaceted approach to involving the major stakeholders from the initial stage had enabled the intervention to well respond to the public needs and opinions as much as possible and to approach issues in a multifaceted manner.
  • The intervention’s intermediary role in assisting both the local government including the public enterprise and local communities to balance the service supply capacity and service demands had enabled the sustainability of the intervention outcomes.

Challenges/Difficulties

  • A better initial assessment of communities’ willingness and acceptance levels over the intervention initiatives, followed by more in-depth strategic planning could have resulted in gaining stronger support from participating communities (determining the acceptable limits by local communities for setting up a user-fee system, activity schedule to fit around the local livelihood activities – avoiding the apple harvesting season for facilitating major activities). Such an assessment remained as a future challenge within the next intervention.
  • The level of local participation and support by local community members could have been stronger. It could have involved more ordinary citizens in the regions than the local authorities. This might have been due to a lack of adequate activities related to raising public awareness among local residents in the importance of proper solid waste management and how proper solid waste management could translates to the improvements in local livelihoods and natural environmental conditions. Therefore, carrying out better public awareness campaigns remained as a future challenge within the next intervention.
  • The pre-election campaigns during the intervention had caused the local government to adopt lenient attitudes towards the enforcement of solid waste management regulations in the region. This has been one of the on-going challenges in effectively carrying interventions in the country.


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

Successes

  • The intervention’s flexible structure had enabled the project to involve as many stakeholders/potential beneficiaries as possible from the initial project development stage throughout all implementation phases to keep them well informed of project plans and activities, and to ensure the reflection of their opinions and needs in the intervention outputs.
  • The physical location of the Project Implementation Unit within close proximity to the majority of stakeholders had ensured close dialogue and cooperation between the project and its stakeholders
  • The intervention’s broad participatory and multifaceted approach had helped create positive partnerships among stakeholders (Municipality, village representatives, farmers associations, Extension Service, etc.) and external interest groups (universities, media, agro-businesses) to share their capacities and resources to solve issues and improve situations in a multifaceted manner.
  • The intervention’s vision to create long-term collaborative relationships among different stakeholders has contributed to the creation of sustainable conditions for the intervention outcomes.
  • The intervention’s effort to establish long-lasting local capacity had enabled local stakeholders to take their own initiatives to further advance the results of the intervention (e.g. through GEF SGP)

Difficulties/Challenges

  • Many stakeholders were highly interested in participating in information and consultation meetings. However, not many were participating in taking actual actions on the ground to make their contributions. Many left the ground tasks to a few individuals. The future challenge was to come up with more efficient ways to encourage stakeholders to more actively participate in ground activities and to spread responsibilities evenly among stakeholders. One of the strategies for this was to identify and present clear incentives for each stakeholder.


Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

Successes

  • The same participatory and multifaceted approach used in the previous two interventions has been applied in this intervention to acquire a broad views and opinions on how and what restoration activities should be carried out in order to ensure the sustainability of the outcomes.
  • The intervention’s strong emphasis on public awareness rising has helped create a supportive environment for the restoration activities and enabled the incorporation of the public opinions in the restoration plan and activities. This includes activities such as: public sharing of stakeholder concern analysis results, cost-benefit analysis results, providing direct contacts with experts, etc.

Challenges/Difficulties

  • Selecting specific restoration measures and activities, which would strike a fine balance between responding to the immediate needs of local stakeholders and satisfying long-term conservation requirements, is one of the biggest challenges to ensure the long-term sustainability of this intervention outcomes.
  • Careful selection of measures/activities that will receive the required support of the local population; not to foresee something that will be very advanced in terms of protection of the river, but not supported by the local community. This will undoubtedly negatively affect the sustainability of the achievements; in this regard attention also to be paid to the local government’s capacity to enforce the regulations relevant for the river’s environmental status.
  • Human exploitation due to a lack of clear land demarcation and illegal land encroachment along the riverbed has been contributing to the worsening of conditions of the river. Although proper regulations to combat such issues exist, the challenge is for the local government to build a proper enforcement capacity to take appropriate actions to deal with these issues.
  • Conducting a careful assessment on each intervention partner’s current operational capacity, further capacity development needs and commitment level to ensure successful outcomes is another challenge in this intervention (e.g. conducting a proper capacity assessment of the public enterprise for solid waste management to determine its pragmatic outputs - such as determining their certain tasks for the river solid waste control system - and capacity-building needs to increase both the quality and quantity of potential outputs by the public enterprise in the intervention).


Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespaby Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

  • Lessons-learnt will be shared as soon as they become available during and after the project.

Main Results

The following four interventions have innovatively and holistically dealt with stakeholders at different levels to accomplish expected outcomes, and to secure the long-term sustainability of the outcomes. All stakeholders including: (a) affected individuals and interest groups; (b) government authorities; (c) industries; (d) institutions; and, (d) local NGOs, have demonstrated their willingness to play active roles throughout the interventions and identified their permanent roles and responsibilities in the region.

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

Establishment of sustainable solid waste collection and management systems in 37 rural communities within the Prespa Lake Watershed region of Macedonia (provision of solid waste collection/management services, placement of 2600 garbage bins at the households level, introduction of composting for household waste reduction, and illegal waste dump site clean up)

  • Through this intervention, the Municipality of Resen has become the only municipality in country to have established complete solid waste collection and management systems.


Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

  • Establishment of monitoring and regulatory systems for the application of pesticides, fertilizers and irrigated water
  • Establishment of a union to consolidate limited resources of individual agricultural associations, and to create the leadership capacity and common vision for the region’s agriculture and sustainable development
  • Establishment of communication networks among farmers associations to enhance the technical capacity of individual farmers and associations through improved information sharing and collaborative conditions – e.g. dissemination of information on and establishment of public bulletin board for monthly pesticide spraying cycle recommendation notice and workshop schedules
  • Establishment of collaborative relationships among stakeholders to promote sustainable agriculture and economic development, and to advance farmers’ technical capacities in agriculture (e.g. establishment of a soil testing laboratory with collaboration among the local government, research institute, extension service, and farmers)

Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

In the process of finalizing project activities and parameters with stakeholders including local residents, , farmers, local government, public enterprises, industries, and businesses.

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespaby Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

This intervention aims to achieve outcomes, which include:

(a) Integrated land-use “spatial” plan for Prespa – Macedonian, and Local Environmental Action Plan for Prespa – Albania, (b) Water Management Plan, (c) Model Forests Management Pan, (d) Trans-boundary Monitoring System, (e) Upgraded Information Management and Geographic Information System; (f) Management Plan for Ezerani Nature Reserve, (g) Conservation plans for priority species and habitats, etc.


Outlook (Conclusions and Next Steps)

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

The project has successfully established a basis for providing the sustainable solid waste management services in the Prespa Lake Watershed and promoting community-level initiatives to minimize solid waste output at the household level. In the future, institutional and operational capacity building will be needed for the Public Enterprise “JKP Proleter to further enhance the quality of their services and operations.

Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

The project has successfully assisted the local apple farmers to establish an effective pesticide and fertilizer application cycle and pest monitoring systems and adopt sustainable farming and irrigation practices to achieve cost effective and environmentally sustainable apple farming in the region. Further improvements in the resource management capacities of the local farmers associations and Farmers Associations Union to apply similar principles and techniques to other agricultural production sectors will be needed. Also, achieving an enhanced balance between environmental protection and increased agricultural productivity should be important in the future.

Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

The successful realization of the river restoration and protection objectives of the project will largely depends on the support and commitments by all relevant stakeholders. This has been spearheaded by the Municipal Government to formally adopt the river restoration and management plan as an official document of the Municipality. This will ensure the long-term commitment in sustainable management of the Golema Reka Basin and other tributaries in the region by the local government. This will also help establish a very important platform for participatory river basin management in the region by the local government to ensure all river restoration and management initiatives in the future will require active participation of all stakeholders to reflect the public interest.

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

It is expected that this intervention will become a successful model for:

−Management of trans-boundary lakes worldwide −Decentralized partnerships between national and local authorities in resources and ecosystem management −Partnership between national and local governments and external stakeholders in addressing various priority and cooperation needs at local, national, regional levels.

Testimonies and Stakeholder Perceptions

Intervention One: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

“This project has helped with the establishment of sustainable solid waste collection and management systems in 37 rural villages within the Prespa Lake watershed. It has also helped increased the technical capacity of PE “JKP-Proleter” to successfully provide their services to throughout the entire region. The significance of this intervention is even larger when this is put into the national context – The Municipality of Resen is the first municipality in this country to provide comprehensive solid waste collection and management services, covering its entire geographical area. We hope this will result in the reduction of negative environmental impacts from solid wastes in the Prespa Lake watershed,” Mr. Muzafer Murati – general Manager of PE “JKP Proleter” said.

Intervention Two: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

“Through this UNDP intervention, I believe that the basic foundations have been created to secure further agricultural development opportunities in our region and at the same time, mitigating those negative impacts on our local environment ceased by our previous farming practices. More importantly, this project has helped us increase the market values and marketability of our products through using less pesticides to make our products easier to meet the stiff export requirements, “ President of Agricultrual Associations’ Union said.

Intervention Three: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

“I hope that this project will help us set important foundations for the region’s sustainable river basin management and guide us through the facilitation of participatory processes to solve current issues and make such processes into the standard practice for the region’s water resource management, “ Mayor of the Town of Resen said.

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

Lessons learnt to be shared after the implementation of the restoration activities.

So far, the mayors of the municipalities from the three countries taking part in this trans-boundary intervention at the Lake Prespa Watershed region have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in implementing the Integrated Ecosystem Management initiatives, cross-boarder economic and cultural exchange and cross-boarder communications and coordination. They hope that their collaborative efforts will bring the long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability to the region.

Timeframe & Status

Water Resources Management related interventions in the Lake Prespa Watershed region have begun in 2005. Two interventions have completed, and there are two other interventions still on-going in the region.

References

See also

Water Knowledge Fair 2006

Good Community Practices: Prespa Lake Park

External Resources

General Link to UNDP Macedonia Energy and Environment Cluster

http://www.undp.org.mk/default.asp?where=focusarea&group=12

Intervention One: Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture

http://www.undp.org.mk/Default.asp?where=focusarea&project=45

Intervention Two: Restoration of Golema Reka (river)

http://www.undp.org.mk/Default.asp?where=focusarea&project=67

Intervention Three: Supporting the extension of solid waste management services in the rural communities

http://www.undp.org.mk/Default.asp?where=focusarea&project=70

Intervention Four: Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespaby Albania, Greece and Macedonia (Initial Implementation Stage)

http://www.undp.org.mk/Default.asp?where=focusarea&project=76

Interviewees and Key Contacts

Names and Contacts of Interviewees

Mr. Naumce Toskovski, President, Agricultural Associations Union, Email: agroproizvoditeli@gmail.com, Phone: +38947451660, Address: Marsal Tito br 1 7310 Resen, FYR Macedonia

Mr. Muzafer Murati, General Manager, Public Enterprise “JKP Proleter”, Email: jkp-proleter@mt.net.mk, Phone: +38947455460, Address: Industriska bb 7310 Resen, FYR Macedonia

Mr. Dimitar Buzlevski, Mayor, Municipality of Resen, Email: kabinet.gradonacalnik@gov.mk, Phone: +38947451508, Address: Plostad Marsal Tito bb 7310 Resen, FYR Macedonia


For more information, Please contact:

Mr. Akihito Kono, Programme Officer for Energy and Environment at UNDP CO Macedonia

Ms. Anita Kodzoman, Programme Officer for Energy and Environment at UNDP CO Macedonia



Attachments

 Prespa Water RM Presentation content.doc  Macedonia Prespa Water RM.doc  PrespaCommunityGoodPractices.pdf

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