Implementing the multilevel approach of the ‘Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (COSERAM)’ program in Mindanao, Philippines Since 1 January 2011, the ‘Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management’ (COSERAM) program supports an integrated approach of poverty reduction and peace building in the region of Caraga, Mindanao. The COSERAM program is a joint undertaking of the Philippine and German governments, implemented by GIZ, the KfW (German Development Bank) and five Philippine partners: the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Interior Local Government (DILG), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP).
Caraga is an administrative region of the Philippines, located in the Northeast of the island Mindanao. Rich in natural resources, it has great potential for development. It is characterized by a wood-based economy, extensive water resources and rich mineral deposits. Despite this potential, Caraga remains one of the poorest regions in the country, and political and social disputes are prevalent. The inequitable access to natural resources and land is one main cause of conflict. A ‘Participatory Community Peace and Conflict Assessment’ (PCPCA) conducted in 2009 by GTZ, DED-ZFD and forumZFD1 identified five major peacebuilding needs for the Caraga region:
(1) Classification and demarcation of land;
(2) Regulation and enforcement of land and resource issues;
(3) Management and utilization of natural resources;
(4) Human security, including local conflict transformation and improved livelihoods;
(5) Access to basic services.
COSERAM aims to ensure that the governance of natural resources and assets is implemented in a peaceful and sustainable manner, benefitting the community. The target groups are the marginalized poor population, people affected by land-based resource conflicts, indigenous peoples and women. The program particularly focuses on addressing resource and asset management and on improving non-violent conflict transformation whenever possible at the local level where the issues arise. When this is not possible, the issues are taken up on the regional or if necessary on the national level. As entry points, typical conflict topics regarding the access to land and natural resources have been selected. Thus COSERAM supports activities such as:
(1) Strengthening multi-stakeholder dialogues and conflict transformation skills to address overlapping claims or cooperation in an ecosystem;
(2) Participatory land use, development planning and
(3) Supporting titling processes for indigenous communities;
(4) Empowering marginalized communities through participatory approaches and legal / paralegal aid;
(5) Using indigenous knowledge, systems and practices for the sustainable management of biodiversity.
A multi-level approach is thoroughly anchored in COSERAM: At macro-level, the program is steered by the National
Steering Committee (NSC) that is comprised of representatives from five different Philippine authorities and civil society representatives. The Committee’s main task is to provide political and strategic steering at the national level and policy direction within the mandates of each of the members. The Regional Steering Committee (RSC) at meso-level reports to the NSC. The main function of the RSC is to steer the COSERAM implementation process. Both committees receive input from their technical working groups from across relevant partner organizations. The members of such working groups on regional as well as local level are program staff, including national and international experts as well as Civil Peace Service (CPS) advisors of the cooperating CPS program and the Chief Executive Officers of partner organizations. At micro-level, the program works with a broad variety of local partners. The flow of information, results and experiences between the different levels is crucial. Decisions made within the NSC are transferred to the RSC. Vice versa, experiences gathered in the cooperation with local partners already resulted in policy changes on regional and national level. For example, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) was brought together with NCIP through COSERAM. In 2014, HLURB adopted recommendations drawn from local experiences in their revised national guidelines on how local government units work and addressed the rights of indigenous peoples’ rights in their planning processes.
Mix of GIZ-instruments
The program works with four international advisors, ten national senior experts and six development workers. Further three development workers of the GIZ-CPS program are also cooperating with the program. The integrated approach of complementing various technical, financial and personnel instruments on macro-, meso- and micro-level enables COSERAM to work with a variety of partners from state and civil society. In order to adequately address the multidimensional aspects of conflict transformation and biodiversity management, the program chose to work in thematic teams. Each team comprises staff of partner organizations and a mix of GIZ ‘instruments’, each and everybody bringing in their specific sector expertise. For example, the team supporting NCIP and DENR in addressing biodiversity and ecosystem management principles based on indigenous knowledge includes two national senior experts (anthropologists with a sound expertise of the local conflict issues), two development workers (biologist resp. biodiversity expert) as well as COSERAM’s international and senior national staff. The program staff provides advisory services wherever need arises; it is not deployed at a particular partner institution. While international experts provide advisory services mainly at meso and macro-level and perform management functions, senior national experts operate with partners from micro- to macro-level depending on their expertise. Development workers however work closely within organizations on meso- and micro-level. The approach is complemented by different Human Capacity Services (HCD) deployed by the program. In this way, COSERAM initiates and accompanies synergetic change processes at all levels. Thus, 17 formal and informal agreements between conflicting parties have been reached for a conflict sensitive management of natural resources. The agreements cover around 330,000 hectare. Especially poor farmers and fishermen as well as indigenous communities benefit from these agreements, e.g. through inclusion in management decisions and heightened focus on the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral domains. Partner organizations are also supported through local subsidies and financial agreements. For example the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines (NCIP) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) received subsidies to implement Quick Impact Measures in remote areas, primarily inhabited by indigenous peoples. This increased the confidence of the target groups and the capacity of state agencies to deliver services.
Development workers support their partner organizations in implementing and monitoring local subsidies and financial agreements in the field by on-the job training – be it for COSERAM or other local- and international donors. Thus partner organizations’ capacities to handle financial grants have been strengthened to such extents that today some are capable to process financial agreements without the support of development workers.
Examples of integrated Development Workers contribution at meso- and micro level
Dirk Euler supports the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP):
“The Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) is one of the biggest wetlands of international importance in the Philippines. The indigenous riverine Manobo people have always taken care of this key biodiversity area, maintaining their livelihoods within the carrying capacity of limited natural resources. Despite their significant contribution to biodiversity conservation for protected areas, the indigenous knowledge systems and practices are not sufficiently considered and/or used in the Caraga region. The Manobo people is challenged by socio-economic transformation processes and violent conflicts over natural resources. As a member of the COSERAM program’s National and Regional Steering Committee, NCIP is the primary government agency to promote and protect the rights and well being of indigenous communities. However, NCIP is a rather young agency, lacking technical and financial resources to carry out their broad mandate. Our work contributes to the integration of participatory biodiversity and ecosystem management principles into NCIP’s institutional core processes such as ancestral domain planning of indigenous communities. NCIP staff can now effectively safeguard indigenous rights and carry responsibilities in natural resource governance. With this support, NCIP worked closely together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the first time. Following cultural principles and scientific standards, the Manobos recorded their own traditional practices to create incentives for the recognition and peaceful use of synergy effects between indigenous practices and biodiversity conservation.
Furthermore, the required ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)’, conducted by NCIP, was extended from a mere consent to an inclusive partnership building processes for the indigenous communities.”
Wilfried Gebhardt supports the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA):
“I support NEDA in its efforts to harmonize land use in the Caraga region. NEDA is one of the main Philippine partners in the implementation of COSERAM as well as a member of NSC and RSC. Working here secures the valued information flow between GIZ and all other program partners. My main task at NEDA is the support of the formulation and updating of all related planning documents such as the Regional Development Plan and the Regional Physical Framework Plan in coordination with all stakeholders. Keeping the focus on the integration of conflict sensitivity and gender responsiveness in said development plans is a unique process, which has been piloted here. Until now, six partner organizations developed gender and conflict sensitive land use- and physical development plans for selected conflict-affected areas in Caraga. lt is expected that gender and conflict issues will be integrated in physical planning for all the Philippine islands. The GIZ team contributed to the conceptualization and implementation of Participatory Land Use Development Planning tools that take the needs and rights of indigenous peoples into account.”
Dr. Anke Steinel supports the local Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD):
“The Surigao Watershed Resources Reserve (SWRR) is the main source for the SMWD, supplying Surigao City with potable water. The main issues in the watershed affecting water quality and quantity are illegal cutting of trees, illegal small-scale gold mining activities and illegal settlements. SMWD is an important partner for the Ridge-to-Reef cooperation of state and civil society actors in Surigao del Norte, as an improved management and protection of watershed areas directly contributes to the overall outcome of sustainable and peaceful management of natural resources. Next year, a physical survey will examine the quantity and quality of water resources in and around SWRR. The planned installation of monitoring equipment should enable SMWD to continuously monitor their main source of water thereafter. Apart from the technical side and capacity development for employees on hydrogeology, designing effective information sessions at schools, multi-stakeholder dialogue, etc., I try to increase awareness on the rights of indigenous peoples. Since then, relationships between them and SMWD have significantly improved. In a holistic approach, SMWD together with the provincial state universities and colleges of agriculture and science and technology also supports livelihood activities to lower illegal activities. Conflict sensitivity and conflict transformation trainings have also been provided to SMWD and other stakeholders of the watershed. This has led to an improved relationship between the Protected Area Management Board and SMWD. The activities of the program team addressing the Ridge-to-Reef Cooperation have been complemented by various GIZ Human Capacities Services, such as training sessions on multi-stakeholder dialogue in country as well as at the Bangkok training hub. The training sessions were attended by Chief Executive Officers of partner organizations jointly with national and international GIZ Staff, including the respective development workers.”
GIZ-Civil Peace Service (CPS)
“My assignment focuses on contributing to the nonviolent transformation of asymmetric resource conflicts in Mindanao. The partnership between CPS and SUNGCOD can be described in two phases: From 2009 to 2012, conflict sensitive planning was mainstreamed in SUNGCOD’s programs and projects of the partner organization. As a result, SUNGCOD is nowadays recognized as a resource centre for conflict sensitive approaches and conflict transformation methods and provides its services to other organizations in Surigao del Norte. From 2012 to 2014, SUNGCOD has been supported in its efforts to inform indigenous peoples in the region about their rights as well as administrative and legal procedures in the context of natural resource exploitation. To achieve our goal, a series of activities have been conducted, like a participatory needs and conflict assessment, strategy building of tribal leaders of the Mamanwas, organizational development of the Mamanwa Tribal Organization, building networks, the International Mamanwa Dialogue Symposium, advocacy and public relations. These activities managed to create a trustful relationship between tribal leaders and SUNGCOD. Today, the Mamanwa are aware of their rights and interests as well as concerns and issues, which are relevant for their community at local, regional and national levels. They are recognized as important partners in Surigao del Norte and are able to articulate their rights and interests. To strengthen indigenous peoples in the context of resource conflicts is a common goal of CPS and COSERAM.”
Advantages of the integrated approach: The mixture of different instruments
To bring state and civil society actors together requires a broad range of technical expertise and advisory capacities as well as the openness for continuous learning from each other. Here, the interplay between the different instruments of German technical cooperation has been a very valuable and appropriate combination of efforts. The set up with six development workers of various sectoral backgrounds supporting agencies on micro- and meso-level proved to be particularly beneficial in conflict settings. Being placed within a partner organization, the development workers often know the local context and the internal dynamics very well and can help the program address the partners’ particular perspectives, motivations and potential problems, therewith building bridges between GIZ and partners. Similarly, it is crucial that the program benefits from a close cooperation with the Civil Peace Service (CPS) program, working on peace building needs in the region with complementing approaches. While some CPS advisors together with their partner organizations were directly engaged in the work of the activity clusters, others were more generally contributing to the enhancement of conflict transformation capacities, supporting their partners in conflict analysis, conflict and culture sensitive planning, mediation skills and constructive multi stakeholder dialogues. Furthermore, the placement of development workers in partner organizations allows for a stronger link and faster implementation of recommendations for the Regional and/or the National Steering Committee and other mandated national bodies. This leads towards the incorporation in bills, strategies and draft regulations and their
conflict-sensitive implementation at the target group level.
As development workers are an important integrated part of COSERAM’s multi-sectoral thematic teams and actively participating in GIZ technical teams on different topics (i.e. Gender, Anticorruption), they are also integrated in GIZ Sector Networks on Philippine and Asian level which leads to technical knowledge improvement and enhances networking with other programs and consequently contributes towards professional collaboration with Philippine partners.
One of the major challenges for integrating development workers in GIZ programs is that they have to split their time and loyalty working for GIZ as well as the partner organization. Therefore, clarifying the roles and responsibilities is an important task for development workers, their managers, the GIZ team and partner organizations.
While it is a great opportunity to use the potential for synergies between different instruments, levels and approaches, it is challenging for all persons involved to guarantee the flow of information and coordinate all activities especially as development workers are commonly placed in remote areas. For COSERAM it has proven useful to always include everybody involved in all communications with partner structures, etc. In order to be able to make effective use of all the instruments and the broad range of expertise, it is extremely important to make time for regular conceptual reflection with external partners as well as GIZ-internally to ensure that all staff speaks with one voice. The Caraga Platform for Collaboration, Reflection and Learning, conducted two to three times a year since the end of 2010, is an important forum to ensure coherence of the German approach in the region. It brings together all the technical staff of German development cooperation agencies and is used for joint political analysis, collegial advice on critical incidents as well as discussions on results of the regular conflict monitoring and its implication for program implementation.
The interplay of different German development cooperation instruments, especially the combination of development workers, Civil Peace Service experts and technical contribution support, has proved to be effective in Mindanao. The development workers’ direct involvement in the training of technical staff of their respective partner organizations contributes to the implementation in accordance to the COSERAM program indicators. Through outreach to Philippine partners at all levels with frequent direct interactions and the establishment of personal relationships, GIZ has also significantly enhanced the image and visibility of the German development cooperation in and outside of Caraga.
To view the official document in PDF format, please refer to this link: An integrated strategy for a peaceful and sustainable governance of natural resources