Should Buildings on River Catchment Areas be Demolished?

One of the questions that conservationists grapple with is the one touching on the fate of the structures that are built on river catchment areas. The key question is on whether such buildings should be allowed to continue standing, or whether they should be demolished.

If the buildings on river catchment areas are demolished, it would serve as a deterrent to other individuals who may have aspirations of building on such areas. The individuals would think twice before going ahead to put up structures on river catchment areas: knowing that there  is a risk of the buildings being brought down. Some people argue that this is actually the best way to go about conserving the river catchment areas.

Yet, on the other hand, the decision to demolish the structures that are built on river catchment areas is bound to have a negative political impact. The owners of the buildings are likely to revolt: and these are usually well-connected individuals. They are the sorts of individuals who can actually bring a government down.

Ideally, a government should do what is right, even if it is not necessarily popular. Yet governments care about their popularity a great deal. From time to time, we see surveys (much similar to the dgcustomerfirst survey) aimed at gauging governments’ popularity. That is where, every once in a while, you come across media reports that such and such a president’s approval ratings are at such and such percentage points. This means that the governments can’t afford to totally ignore people’s opinions. And seeing that demolition of structures that are built on river catchment areas is bound to make any government unpopular, that is how some governments opt to allow such buildings to continue standing. But by so doing, they end up endangering the rivers that flow from the catchment areas — which has a rather negative impact on more people downstream.

It therefore becomes clear that in making the decision on whether the structures built on river catchment areas should be demolished, governments have to engage in delicate balancing acts.

Protecting River Catchment Areas Through Media Campaigns

One of the ways in which we can protect river catchment areas is through media campaigns. People tend to be very responsive to information they receive through mass media. People generally tend to trust and respect the media. And anything that gets covered in mainstream media news is bound to grab people’s attention.  That is a state of affairs we can take advantage of, to protect river catchment areas.

What we are making reference to here is mainly a question of using the mass media to educate people on the importance (and fragility) of river catchment areas. Through mass media reports, we can get people to understand why river catchment areas need to be protected. Further, through mass media reports, we can get people to understand what exactly they need to do (in practical terms) to protect the river catchment areas. Special emphasis would be on getting people to understand the activities they need to stop undertaking on river catchment areas.

You realize that many people who desecrate river catchment areas do so due to ignorance. So what we would be seeking to do, through the mass media campaigns, is try to eliminate such ignorance. And here we are dealing with ignorance both at the individual level and at the societal level. For once the society gets to know about the importance of river catchment areas (and how such areas can be protected) it would act as a watchdog in the protection of such areas. The society would, for instance, frown on people who carry out the wrong activities on the river catchment areas. We would end up with a situation where carrying out certain activities on the river catchment areas would be viewed as a ‘social taboo’ – something that all members of society try to avoid.

It is upon the agencies and advocacy groups that are charged with the responsibility of protecting river catchment areas to organize the mass media campaigns in question here. This is really just a question of networking with the people who are in charge of the local mass media, and trying to convince them to give some coverage to issues related to the protection of river catchment areas.

Why People Choose to Build in River Catchment Areas

There are 3 key reasons as to why people choose to build in river catchment areas. In today’s article, we will be focusing on those reasons — as we try to understand the mindsets of the people who choose to desecrate river catchment areas. The only way in which we will win the river catchment areas protection battle is by understanding the challenge we are up against. In this specific case, once we gain an understanding on why people choose to build in river catchment areas, we would be well equipped to discourage them.

Without further ado, the 3 key reasons as to why people choose to build in river catchment areas include:

  1. Ignorance: there are people who build on river catchment areas simply because they don’t know that it is wrong to do so. So the way to deal with these individuals is by educating them on why river catchment areas are important, and why they shouldn’t build there. The educational campaigns in question here can be held through mass media. Alternatively, the people who are beginning to build on river catchment areas can be approached individually, and educated on why they shouldn’t go ahead with their building projects. Even if it proves hard to meet the actual developers in person, it should surely be reasonably easy to locate their phone contacts, and make phone calls to them. In this case, the only expense to be contended with would be that of phone bills. Yet the phone bills are not likely to be particularly hefty. Like if, for instance, you are contacting the developers on a Metro PCS phone, you’d only have a modest metro pcs payment to cater for. So that would really be a question of just visiting the metro pcs pay bill portal, and making the (probably modest) phone bill payment there. You may or you may not succeed in dissuading the developers from going ahead with their projects on the river catchment areas. Either way, you’d have done your best.
  2. Greed: we have other individuals who are driven by greed, to build on river catchment areas. They know that it is wrong to build there, but greed blinds them to the importance (and fragility) of the river catchment areas. These are the sorts of people against whom river catchment area protection guards are hired.
  3. The nature of the river catchment areas: river catchment areas tend to be very scenic. So there are individuals who desire to have their homes and businesses based in such scenic areas – regardless of the damage to environment that arises when the river catchment areas are built on.

The Government’s Role in the Protection of River Catchment Areas

The government has a critical role to play in the protection of river catchment areas. In fact, the government has several key roles that it has to play, in the protection of river catchment areas. Experience has shown that river catchment area protection efforts are unlikely to be very successful, without government support.

Some of the specific ways in which government can provide assistance in river catchment area protection efforts include:

  1. Through legislation: it is upon the government, specifically the legislative arm of the government, to come up with the relevant legislation. That is the legislation on which river catchment area protection efforts can be anchored.
  2. Through law enforcement: the government can set up a police unit (or some other law enforcement unit) to assist in river catchment area protection efforts.
  3. Through financing: the government can devote some of the funds at its disposal to the protection of river catchment areas. Experience tells us that river catchment area protection efforts are unlikely to succeed, unless they are supported with funding from the government kitty. This is because many of the things that need to be done are costly. They can’t be done through voluntary contributions. Voluntary contributions, as we all know, tend to be very small. You just have to ask yourself who the average contributor (to river catchment area protection efforts) is. That could turn out to be, for instance, someone working at the local Darden restaurant. This, therefore, is a fellow who gets just a few hundred bucks per week, through the Darden portal. And for him to get that rather modest paycheck, he actually has to go through the krowd olive garden login page, sign in there, and go through several authentication steps. Therefore such an individual (and others who meet this profile) has limited capacity to contribute towards river catchment area protection efforts. Clearly, if river catchment area protection efforts are to be funded entirely through such donations, they are unlikely to be successful. But the government can make all the difference, by chipping in financially.
  4. Through education: the government can run massive, nationwide educational/awareness campaigns, to get members of the public to appreciate the need for them to protect river catchment areas.

Volunteering to Protect a River Catchment Area

One of the ways in which you can make your contribution to river catchment area protection efforts is by volunteering. To be sure, most of the organizations that are involved in river catchment area protection efforts seem to prefer cash contributions. But there are instances where you may realize that you simply don’t have enough money to contribute to this sort of cause. You may, for instance, be working as a porter or clerk at the United States Postal Service. Under these circumstances, when you check your paystubs at the USPS HR site (liteblue.USPS.gov), you realize that your cash is just too tight to allow you to contribute financially to river catchment area protection efforts. But, on the other hand, when you go to the liteblue extranet login page, sign in there and browse through the work schedules section, you realize that you have lots of free time. And so this is the time you opt to spend volunteering in protecting the local river catchment area.

In volunteering to protect a river catchment area, you will need to:

  1. Figure out the specific ways in which you can volunteer: so this is a question of looking at your abilities and interests, to see how exactly you can volunteer. It may be a scenario where you can volunteer by joining tree planting campaigns. Or it may be a scenario where you volunteer by working in river catchment area fencing projects. Or yet again, it could be a case where you offer to be one of the people patrolling the river catchment area, and protecting it from misuse… there are so many options.
  2. Identify the organization you can volunteer with: there are organizations that are set up to protect the river catchment areas. Your efforts at volunteering are likely to be more fruitful if you work within the auspices of one such organization (rather than trying to operate as a ‘lone ranger’).
  3. Create a volunteering schedule: so this is where, for instance, you try to work out how many hours you can afford to volunteer for per week, and when exactly you would be volunteering. Remember, even if you volunteer for just two hours per week, that would still be 104 hours in a year – which sounds quite impressive.

Setting Up a River Catchment Area Protection Fund

The protection of river catchment areas is a costly affair. The people who guard the river catchment areas against encroachment have to be paid. This costs money. Sometimes, the core river catchment areas have to be fenced off, and this too costs quite a bit of money. At other times, you have to undertake tree planting campaigns, to protect the river catchment areas – and even this requires a lot of money. So, without a doubt, you need to have money, if you are to be successful in protecting river catchment areas. And when it comes to raising this money, you have two options. One option is to be pleading for donations every time something comes up. The other option is set up a fund, from which you can readily draw money when need arises. Needless to say, the latter is the more prudent option. And in setting up a river catchment area protection fund, you need to:

  1. Figure out how much money you need for the effort: here, you need to look at the specific activities you will need to undertake, as part of the river catchment area protection campaign. Then you need to get estimates of what the activities are likely to cost. On top of that, you need to add an allowance for unforeseeable contingencies.
  2. Figure out how you are to raise the funds: you can lobby the local government, for an allocation. You can also lobby local companies or institutions to contribute to the fund, as part of their corporate social responsibility. You also have the option of requesting private individuals for donations — to contribute money to the river catchment area protection fund. A private individual who has chanced upon a windfall may be inclined to contribute to this sort of fund. Take, for instance, someone who works at PepsiCo (meaning the he gets his paystubs through the PepsiCo employees portal, at www.mypepsico.com. Then, on some date, he decides to check out his paystubs. So he proceeds to the My pepsico view login page, signs in, and navigates to the paystubs section – only to learn that he has gotten a huge bonus. Such an individual, given the windfall that has come his way, may be inclined to donate some of the money to the river catchment area protection fund. This is especially likely to be the case if he sees/understands how the river catchment areas protection efforts are likely to be beneficial to him.
  3. Figure out where you are to invest the funds: you need to invest the funds where you can retrieve them at short notice. This should also be somewhere where you can get a decent return on investment, without exposing the funds to undue risks.

The Politics of River Catchment Area Protection

The protection of river catchment areas often turns into a political affair. In  the developing nations, people have a natural tendency to settle in the river catchment areas. When this happens, a point comes where they have to be evicted from such areas. This is because it is very hard – actually it is pretty much impossible – to protect river catchment areas if there are people who have settled there. Such people have to be evicted, before any meaningful protection of the river catchment areas can take place. Yet the people, backed by their political leaders, are likely to resist such eviction. So you end up, on one hand, with the authorities that are in charge of river catchment area protection trying to evict the people who have settled in such areas. And on the other hand, you have the people who have settled in the river catchment areas, backed by their political representatives, resisting the eviction. And that is how the politics of river catchment area protection comes to be.

River catchment area protection politics: understanding the motivations

The politicians who encourage their people to stay put in river catchment areas tend to be motivated by the desire to gain political mileage. So you have to keep this at the back of your mind, while dueling with them. They are not driven by concern for the people per se, but rather, by the desire to gain political mileage.

How to navigate the politics of river catchment area protection

It is not easy to navigate the politics of river catchment area protection. It is definitely not as straightforward an affair as, say, visiting the gift cards portal (at mygiftcardsite.com), and reviewing your transaction history there. It is definitely much more complex than logging onto the Mygiftcardsite portal and reviewing your gift card’s transaction history there. It is, on the contrary, a labyrinth. To successfully navigate the politics of river catchment area protection, you need to come up with highly persuasive arguments – backed by facts and figures. You have to demonstrate how the encroachment of river catchment area is having a negative impact. Then you need to show the protagonists – both the people who have encroached and the politicians urging them to stay put –  how it would be in their best interests, now and in the future, to support the protection of the river catchment areas. You may also need to lobby politicians from other areas to support the protection of river catchment areas. If you can get a critical mass on the other side, they may be enough to ‘shout down’ the politicians who happen to be against the protection of the river catchment areas.

How to avoid the politics of river catchment area protection (in the first place)

It is simple: if you want to avoid the politics of river catchment areas in the first place, ensure that you don’t allow people to settle/encroach on the river catchment areas. Fence off the river catchment areas. Employ guards to protect the river catchment areas. Do whatever it takes to ensure that people don’t settle there in the first place. For once they settle, evicting them becomes a politically complex issue.

Lobbying the Government to Protect a River Catchment Area

It often becomes necessary to lobby the government to protect river catchment areas. Protecting a river catchment area can be an expensive undertaking. Often, it is only the government that can provide the necessary financial resources. Furthermore, protecting a river catchment area often means arresting the people who are interfering with it. Again, only the government is sufficiently empowered to do this. Generally, the protection of river catchment areas tends to be much easier with government assistance. Conversely, trying to protect a river catchment area without government assistance can be an uphill task. Thus lobbying the government to help you protect a river catchment area can be very important. In practical terms, if you want to lobby the government to help you in this sort of undertaking, you need to:

  1. Create a proposal: you have to be very specific, about what needs to be done, in protecting the river catchment area. You need to refine your proposal, to ensure that it is very concise. You need to turn it into some sort of ‘pitch’. Remember, you will probably only have a few minutes to sell the proposal to the relevant government officials. It therefore has to be concise, yet also very persuasive.
  2. Approach the relevant government officials: this is a question of figuring out who the relevant government officials are. Then you can book an appointment with them – and ensure that you actually attend the meeting. So you need to ensure that the time you book an appointment for is one that is convenient both for you and for the government officials you will be seeing. If you are employed somewhere, you may need to ask for time off well in advance, to attend the meeting. Like if, for instance, you work for a company like Nordstrom, you may need to visit the MyNordstrom website, to request for time off work – so as to attend the meeting with the government officials. That would be just a matter of going to the Mynordstromlogin page, signing in, then clicking on the link for ‘schedules’ – and then requesting for time off. Just ensure that the time you choose is one that is convenient for both yourself and the government officials you will be seeking to approach.
  3. Sell the proposal to the government officials: the objective here is to get the officials to understand why they need to assist you in protecting the river catchment area. You need to give them a proper cost-benefit analysis: showing them the resources they need to devote to the protection of the river catchment area, and the benefits they stand to derive.
  4. Follow up with the government officials: even after managing to sell your proposal successfully to the government officials, you may still need to follow up with them, in order to ultimately get the required assistance. Remember, these officials usually get many proposals. And when all is said and done, it is only the proposals that are well followed up on that are eventually acted upon.

Creating a River Catchment Area Protection Plan

Before launching a river catchment area protection project, it is important to create a plan first. The plan would guide your activities, to ensure that you don’t lose focus at any point. If you launch a river catchment area protection project without a plan, you are very likely to fail. You are almost certainly bound to fail. This is because your activities will be haphazard, and won’t know whether you are progressing in the right direction or not. Launching a river catchment are project without a plan is akin to scheduling work on the Myloweslife portal without having a specific framework in mind. Obviously, if you go about it in that way, you could end up with very low productivity. Therefore, it is very important for you to create a river catchment area protection plan. The actual process of creating the plan entails:

  1. Identifying the threats to the river catchment area: this has to be the starting point – where you identify the specific things you will be protecting the river catchment area from.
  2. Identifying the envisaged mitigation measures: the most important thing here is to list the envisaged mitigation areas, and try to see just how viable they are (given the practical realities).
  3. Identifying the resources you need: here, you work out how much money you need to implement the mitigation measures identified above, how much human resource you need… and so on. You also need to work out whether or not it will be easy for you to raise the resources, and how exactly you plan to go about it. For instance, with respect to the human resources, you may need to hire people (as employees) or alternatively try to persuade people to work on a voluntary basis in protecting the river catchment area.
  4. Identifying the major milestones to be attained: these are critical, for it is only through them that you would be in a position to know whether you are making progress or not, once you start implementing the plan.

Empowering Community Members to Protect River Catchment Areas

One of the most effective ways to protect river catchment areas is by empowering the members of the communities living around the said river catchment areas. This approach is likely to be more effective (and less expensive) than hiring guards to protect the river catchment areas. It can also be more effective, and at the same time less costly, than fencing off the river catchment areas. The actual process of empowering community members to protect river catchment areas entails a number of things.

The first step is to educate the members of the local communities on the importance of the river catchment areas. The goal here is to get them to see why it would be in their best interests to protect the river catchment areas.

The second step is to get the members of the local communities to know the exact ocations of the river catchment areas. The exact locations of the river catchment areas can be ambiguous, hence the need for them to be clearly delineated.

The third step is to enlighten the members of the local communities on the specific strategies they need to use in protecting the river catchment areas.

The fourth step is to give the members of the local communities the tools they need to protect the river catchment areas successfully. Let’s say, for instance, that the local community members are expected to venture out at night to monitor people who carry out unauthorized activities in the river catchment areas. In that case, it would be important to equip them with torches, heavy clothing to protect them from the cold, gumboots… and so on. Don’t expect them to buy this kind of stuff for themselves. Remember, the average community member may, for instance, be a Walmart1 associate — that is, someone who works at the local Walmart outlet. It would then be very unfair to expect such a person to use the meager paychecks he receives at www.walmartone.com to buy the stuff he needs for the voluntary work in protecting the river catchment areas. The least you can do is to provide him the necessary tools for the wok.