Engaging communities towards sustained indicator development, monitoring and evaluation of MPAs in the central Philippines.

Author(s): M.G. Pajaro,  M.E. Mulrennan, A.C.J. Vincent

Take home messages for marine resource managers

  • First impressions matter: When engaging local communities in the monitoring and evaluation  (M&E) of no(take marine protected areas (MPAs), marine resource managers must first build trust  and develop relationships.
  • Communities with a history of MPA development and/or an active village council (or similar  grassroots organization) tend to be more easily engaged in M&E activities than those without.
  • Women can play an important role in M&E initiatives, and gender must be factored into the  program design to ensure equal opportunities to participate.

1. Background to study
The involvement of local communities in the management and M&E of no (take MPAs can encourage  sustainable fishing, decrease conflict among fishers, and reduce the need for external experts.  However, communities are socially, politically, and economically complex and these complexities  must be taken into account when developing locally based M&E initiatives.

2. Methods

  • Eight villages associated with no-take MPAs in five municipalities in Bohol, Philippines.  
  • Information was gathered through interviews, focus group discussions and observation on the people from within and beyond the community that runs the MPA participated in MPA planning.
  •  Interviews and discussions were conducted primarily in Cebuano, the local language.  

3. Principal results Trust (building exercises are an essential first step in the creation of locally based M&E initiatives. The  success of these initiatives depends more on the presence an active village council in a community of than on the personality of its individual leaders. Education levels are more important to meaningful  community engagement than income levels. On average, women are less likely to participate in M&E  initiatives than men, and less likely to occupy leadership roles. Youth (aged 18(25) are more likely to  participate than elders, but their participation is less consistent.

4. Why the results are important to MPA managers
Studies suggest that locally based M&E initiatives are cheaper and more sustainable than those  carried out by external experts. When they are designed with the social, economic, and political  complexities of a community in mind, locally based M&E can provide better insights to realities on the  ground. Resource managers can use such insights to guide decisions and ensure all perspectives (e.g.  those of all ages, both genders) are considered.  

Marivic G. Pajaro, M.E. Mulrennan, A.C.J. Vincent (2010) Engaging communities towards sustained indicator  development, monitoring and evaluation of MPAs in the central Philippines. In: Indicators of effectiveness in  community(based marine protected areas. PhD thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver