Posted tagged ‘community development’


October 13, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza


Gracious morning to you!


A country such as Tanzania that is known for possessing large swaths of wildlife can provide to us a wonderful database regarding the impact of political and economic changes on community wildlife management.


Such is precisely the purpose of a report prepared by the Drylands Programme, as summarized below.


[05 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Eldis database reports.]


Emergent or illusory? community wildlife management in Tanzania

Authors: Nelson,F.
Produced by: Drylands Programme, IIED (2007)

As the country known around the world as the home of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, few natural resources are more closely associated with Tanzania than its wildlife populations. By the 1980s, Tanzania’s wildlife management practices were under increasing pressure from a set of internal and external forces largely linked with the broad economic and political changes occurring in the country at that time. This led to support for greater local community involvement in wildlife management as a means of pursuing both conservation and rural development goals. This paper considers the outcomes and impacts of wildlife areas in Tanzania, and considers the emergence of community wildlife management (CWM) strategies.

The author highlights that the outcomes of over a decade of CWM in Tanzania reflect broader internal political struggles over land rights, resource governance, and participation in policy formulation, as well as challenges facing efforts to devolve natural resource management to local communities throughout the tropics. The paper concludes with some suggestions for how practitioners in Tanzania and elsewhere might foster more effective and adaptive CWM approaches in light of these outcomes and experiences:

  • new institutional models are needed if CWM is to emerge in Tanzania in a more effective and robust manner
  • efforts to support CWM need to take greater account of the institutional incentives that influence reform outcomes, and recognise that in most instances enabling CWM will require long-term negotiations between local and central interests over resource rights and uses
  • long-term and adaptive strategies for moving the institutional balance of power towards the local level are fundamental to CWM
  • development aid agencies and international conservation organisations need to find innovative ways of supporting institutional processes if they are to make more productive investments in CWM.

Available online at:


August 26, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza


Good morning from Manila!


India’s rural poor is very high in frequency as its overall rural population is still at an all-time high of 80%. No matter how heated the industrialization efforts are at the moment, it will take time before the benefits of industrialization will permeate the rural folks.


It is no wise action to force rural areas to commercial urbanization as an option to alleviate urban poverty.


[15 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to database news.]



Sustainable agriculture: a pathway out of poverty for India’s rural poor

Produced by: Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (2008)

Millions of farmers in remote rural areas of India struggle to feed themselves and their families, while the resources on which they depend are deteriorating daily. This book shows how sustainable agriculture can help India’s farmers – especially those in poor, remote areas – pull themselves out of poverty.

The book details 14 examples of how development initiatives have helped farmers in some of the remotest parts of the country break out of the cycle of poverty, debt and environmental degradation, and improve their lives and livelihoods through agriculture that is economically, ecologically and socially sustainable.

The examples fall into three areas:

  • organic agriculture
  • land and water management
  • improving market access for small-scale farmers.

These examples were selected not only due to their success, but also because they have the potential to be replicated on a large scale. The analysis and lessons are intended to be applied to a wide variety of situations, not just in India, but also throughout the world. The authors argue that such large-scale application is vital if the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability are to be met.

Available online at:


August 22, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good day!

A retired US general recently spoke about the overall conduct of war in Afghanistan. To the surprise and chagrin of defense experts and officials, the general most candidly declared that Afghanistan was a disaster.

The retired general spoke more like a development expert than a uniformed defense official. Accordingly, there is no military solution to Afghanistan’s problems. The ideas proposed by the same (ret) uniformed official combine relief and rehab, infrastructures, and capacity-building efforts, or those solutions that have to do more with a total development package. This is a clear departure from the demented thinking in Pentagon and DC that tend to exacerbate the destructive facets of US engagements in Afghanistan.

Below is the news item about the (ret) official’s pronouncements.

[18 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

McCaffrey: Afghanistan Disaster, Unless We Send in the Engineers

Aug. 7, 2008 (EIRNS)—Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who often functions as an informal advisor to senior Army leadership on the current wars, reported on the disaster in Afghanistan following his July 21-26 trip to that country and to NATO headquarters in Belgium. In a memo dated July 30, addressed to the Social Sciences department at West Point, McCaffrey writes: “Afghanistan is in misery.” Sixty-eight percent of the population has never known peace, life expectancy is only 44, and Afghanistan has the highest maternal death rate in the world, he reports. The security situation, the economy (including agriculture, which is “broken”), governance, and the opium problems, are “all likely to get worse in the coming 24 months.”

There is no military solution, McCaffrey writes: “The atmosphere of terror cannot be countered mainly by military means. We cannot win through a war of attrition…. Afghanistan will not be solved by the addition of two or three more US combat brigades from our rapidly unraveling Army.”

Instead, McCaffrey argues that, in addition to building up the Afghan security forces, economic measures are also required. He calls for the deployment of a “five battalion Army engineer brigade… to lead a five year road building effort employing Afghan contractors and training and mentoring Afghan engineers…. The war will be won when we fix the Afghan agricultural system which employs 82% of the population…. The war will be won when the international community demands the eradication of the opium and cannibis crops and robustly supports the development of alternative economic activity.” McCaffrey pointed to the tremendous growth in the poppy crop since the US invasion in 2001 and warned that “Unless we deal head-on with this enormous cancer, we should have little expectation that our efforts in Afghanistan will not eventually come to ruin.” On Pakistan, McCaffrey warns against a US military intervention in that country from across the border in Afghanistan, which he says “would be a political disaster. We will imperil the Pakistani government’s ability to support our campaign. They may well stop our air and ground logistics access across Pakistan and place our entire NATO presence in severe jeopardy.” In dealing with Pakistan, “We must do no harm…” 


June 11, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Magandang hapon! (Good afternoon!)

I remember very well my first anthropology. I was then around 6 or 7 years old, a very innocent tot growing up in Tuguegarao (capital town of Cagayan). Among our yaya (child caregivers) was a young lady from Penablanca town just beside Tuguegarao, where the yaya invited my family for a visit one day.

In the neighbor town of Penablanca did I first encounter the Aetas (Atta in Ibanag language) who were natural inhabitants there, in the mountainous Sierra Madre side of the town. My eyes got transfixed on a little man, dark and kinky haired, and I looked at him wide-eyed without batting an eyelash, full of questions inside my head. Why was he looking so different, so diminutive in body built and height?

For the first time too did I see a White man, who entered my yaya’s house while I was still probing this small man. My gaze then got transferred to the huge man, and I was so wide-eyed then. It was surely bewildering for this innocent Erle Frayne to see the seemingly colossal White figure juxtaposed, upon his entry, to the dwarfish Dark man. What a strange world!

I always laugh with guffaws whenever I recall those days of innocence. I never thought that I’d some day I would take up sociology and anthropology (and later political economy),  was enabled to comprehend the matter of ethnicity and race with greater depth and comprehension, and become a full-fledged social scientist. I also had Eros bonds with White ladies as soon as I reached middle age (one American, one European), and they shared banters with me whenever I narrated my first anthropology.

One thing that impressed me since that time on, when I met my first Aeta ‘subject’, was that the IPs were a bunch of folks who cared for their environment a lot. I remember that the Aeta man brought along lots of herbs, some of which were medicinal. I was also showed their huts when I went down the house to curiously see what things were in that area, and I saw lots of pets, livestock, gardens of families who were both Itawes (mainstream locals) and Aetas. Loves of my life all!  

Having been exposed to diverse ethnicities as a child, I developed that sensitivity and multi-cultural orientation early. And I deeply scorned people who made fun of Aetas or any IP whatsoever. Likewise did I scorn folks who made fun of or disrespected ethnicities that weren’t of their own kind. Inside the classroom we were mixed Ibanags, Ilocanos, Itawes, Chinese, mestizos with European blood, and Tagalogs, and we loved each other’s company. In Penablanca they had IPs among the grade school classes mixing up with the Itawes. How pugnacious it was to hear ethnic profiling bigots!

Those experiences were very, very important as I’d find out later. Coupled with the sensitivity that I learned from my grandfather, who reared us grandchildren to do gardening, take care of pets and livestock, assured me of my ‘green consciousness’ early in life. The same experiences were also contributory to my choice to practice development work, and to go back to Cagayan upon graduation from the premier university in Quezon City (MetroManila) later.

After graduation I plunged right away into field works as part of my community development tasks for the Ministry of Human Settlements. I encountered the Aetas in the process. There was no lack of sympathy and partnering between us development professionals and the IPs then, as we did with the peasants and fisherfolks. IPs, peasants and fishers comprised the most marginalized sectors of Cagayan Valley at that time, and I guess since this time. We did everything we can within the limits of our mandated powers and tasks to get the IPs to the mainstream, including funding livelihood concerns.

Through all of my interactions with the IPs (including the Igorots of Cordillera), I was very conclusive about my observation that they had great respect for Mother Earth. Their practices of subsistence farming, hunting and foraging assured that the ecological balance will always be conserved, thus sustaining resource endowments for the forthcoming generations. They prayed before they would cut a tree, butcher a livestock (notably deer, cattle, swine), and hunting, ensuring a profound bond with the Earth and its endowments.

Having immersed myself in their lives, it surely pains me whenever I see every discriminatory and/or prejudicial act done to mistreat the IPs. Those narratives of native Americans who were rendered as target shooting fodder for White Americans during the Eastward expansion era fills me with rage. The continuing mistreatment of our IPs here, who are treated merely as ‘3rd world’ subordinates by their own city and town fellows, remain among the social issues of my advocacies.

If I were given a choice about which people to perish in the competitive decades ahead, between the urban parasites (who live in subsidies and food stumps from state and private Santa Claus) and IPs (who remain to be ecology balance conservers and self-reliance exemplars amid their simple life), I would prefer to see those urban laggards be swept off the Earth. But I don’t control the future, and who knows the urban laggards can be reformed, reshaped, microchipped for better control and productive behavior.

The Philippines is now 60% urban and barely 40% rural. If 1.5% were added to the urban population every year (which is too conservative an estimate), urban population will hit the 90% mark in 2028, and past the 97% mark in 2040. By that time, the dividing line will be largely the ‘urban-suburban’ divide, as anything ‘rural’ will simply be considered exotic.

I wonder where will that future context leave the IPs. Will they all become post-marginal and absorbed into the mainstream, behaving much like their urban and suburban fellows? Or will they simply silently disappear?  I am no god incidentally, only a mortal who raises questions like anybody else.

[Writ 10 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]


April 28, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza


[Writ 22 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]


Within a nation-state, from micro to macro levels, there better be cooperation among the three main sectors of development: state, market, civil society. I stressed this well in the New Nationalism article.


The emerging term for cooperation today is ‘synergy’. In the original sense of the term, it denoted the causal chain of “one thing leading to another.” It had since become a staple term in ecology and cybernetics. Gradually the meaning of the term underwent change.


Today the term ‘synergy’ had come closer to the term ‘symbiosis’ of ecology. The neo-Weberians were among the advocates of this largely symbiotic signification, applied to the three sectors. Joel Migdal, Vivienne Shue, Theda Skocpol and Peter Evans are among these chief advocates of synergism as strategy for effecting development.


Synergism isn’t really new here in Asia, even here in my country of origin. For centuries now,  we had at the grassroots  level the ‘bayanihan’, practiced by helping each other in times of need. Bayanihan’s closest translation is gemeinschaft (Ferdinand Toennies’ term) or community. It means synergy precisely in today’s context.


There is no way that we should go back to the old days of looking at the state and civil society as relating in a perpetual state of clash. The first time that Alinsky was discussed in my sociology classes in the late 70s, I had some goose bumps about his notion of a perpetual clash, almost akin to the ‘permanent revolution thesis’ at the grassroots level. I said to myself that “this won’t work in the Philippines.” If given the chance for grassroots work, I will never apply Alinsky at all.


Look at the destructive effects of the ‘clash thesis’ during the 80s and 90s here. There was a time when massive strikes were the in thing most specially after Martial Law, and look at the downgrading effects they had on productivity. It was near to chaos during certain moments than.


Contrast that today with a healthy synergy of trade unions and management, which shot up Philippine labor-management relations to being the world’s top (per ILO update). As strikes had decreased, productivity likewise immensely increased. We are now a model of industrial peace here, thanks to the new paradigm of synergism thru the efforts of the University of the Philippines’ School of Labor and Industrial Relations.


However, in the past decades, before 1986, civil society players were merely kibitzers of development here. So to a certain extent the attrition caused by civil society on the state earned this sector its right to be recognized as a co-partner in development. For a long time after independence (1946), only the market and state players were in dialogue, leaving marginal groups and sectors out of the development game.


Now that civil society had earned its keep, its players should shift in mindset from clash-oriented (Alinsky-inspired) models to synergistic models (inspired by bayanihan, Gandhi, Evans) of development. Even the post-Martial Law constitution recognized this potency of civil society, and thus entitled the colossal sector to rights never before it enjoyed.


I hope this synergistic mindset is currently emerging among all the nations of the world. It is among the progenitors of the peace condition, of development with peace and of peace with development.


The basic contention is summed up by the excerpts from the article, to wit:


Promote synergy with civil society in the development path.


In the old formulations, development was an exclusive endeavor of state and market players. That is, the directions of development were largely the handiworks of political, bureaucratic and corporate elites. There should be an admission that this structural formulation was a factor in generating the crisis-level ailments of mass poverty, large-scale unemployment, low wages, sluggish growth and dependence. So why retain a formula that had failed us miserably?


The current context, where a dynamic and colossal civil society operates, points to the ever-growing recognition of the potent role of civil society in co-determining the compass of development. At the grassroots level, development efforts will be accelerated to a great extent by involving civil society formations acting as ‘social capital’ base, as studies have positively demonstrated (citations from Peter Evans’ works on ‘state-society synergy’). Insulating the state from grassroots folks, as the same studies have shown, have produced dismal if not tragic effects, e.g. India’s non-involvement of ‘social capital’ in the erection and maintenance of irrigation facilities resulted to program failure in the end.


Building and maintaining ecologically sound, clean cities can likewise be effected through the tri-partnership of state, civil society and market, as demonstrated by the Puerto Princesa case. Under the stewardship of the dynamic city mayor (Mr. Hagedorn), the tri-partnership was galvanized. Businesses have since been conscious of operating on clean technologies and environmental responsibilities, city streets sustain hygienic images, traffic is well managed as motorists exude discipline, and civil society groups constantly monitor the initiatives that saw their hands dipped into their (initiatives) making. All we need to do is replicate this same Puerto Princesan trilateral partnering at all level and in all communities to ensure better results for our development efforts.


The ‘state-society synergy’ in our country had just recently been appreciated and grasped by many state players. Being at its ‘take-off’ phase, it is understandable that synergy is only a lip-service among many state players, notably the local officials. State players still regard civil society groups with ambivalence, while civil society groups are suspicious of state players whose sincerity can only be as low as their Machiavellian propensities would dictate. Such local state players desire to subordinate civil society groups, and many politicians have constituted ‘government-initiated NGOs’ or GRINGOS as cases of non-authentic subordinated groups. On the other hand, local-level volunteer groups can at best perceive domestic politicians as ‘Santa Claus’ providers, and utilize them largely as gift-giving patrons. Strengthening state-society synergy has a long way to yet, but it is not exactly starting at ground zero in this country. It is, by and large, a core variable in developing citizenry and constituencies, and must be advanced beyond its current take-off phase.