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.

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