Design and Implementation of a Public Awareness Strategy for the Natural Resources Development Project

Design and Implementation of a Public Awareness Strategy for the Natural Resources Development Project

Source of funding

Albania

Name of client/donor

Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Management, Albania

Overall project value

EUR 130,872

Date

September 2009 – March 2012

Beneficiary countries

Albania

Number of staff

8

The Natural Resources Development Project (NRDP) in Albania, funded by the International Development Association (IDA) and the Swedish Government, aimed to establish and maintain sustainable, community-based natural resources management in communities in erosion-prone areas across Albania following two decades of transition, illegal logging, overgrazing of forests and pastures, and continuous degradation of rural areas. The REC was contracted by the Albanian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Management (MoEFWM) to provide technical assistance to the NRDP for designing and drafting a strategy to raise public awareness of the benefits of sustainable natural resources management.

The main goal of this assignment was to design a public awareness-raising strategy and to implement a plan for related activities. Specific objectives were to: 

  • inform communities of the importance and benefits of transferring the use and ownership of forests and pasturelands to local government units (LGUs);
  • educate communities, forestry service staff and LGUs about ongoing and new reforms and legal procedures related to forests and pastures;
  • emphasise positive trends and issues in the transfer process and identify good models of the communal management of natural resources that can be replicated in all regions in the country;
  • improve communication between the MoEFWM and LGUs and communal forest and pasture users associations (CFPUAs) on institutional and legal improvements; 
  • increase interest on the part of LGUs and communities in the finalisation of the transfer and registration process for forests and pasturelands;
  • inform LGUs, CFPUAs and communities of their rights and obligations concerning the management of forests and pastures; and
  • promote the replication of project model practices.

The public awareness programme was accompanied by a series of activities designed to promote the project and help generate public support. The programme comprised two main outputs: the elaboration of the strategy and action plan; and the implementation of the strategy (communication and awareness raising). The strategy and action plan were developed on the basis of an assessment of experiences gained during earlier public participation activities implemented during the project preparation phase. Experiences, information and lessons learnt from models applied in previously implemented projects were also taken into consideration. These include the World Bank Forestry Project; the United Nations Development Programme/Global Environment Facility MedWet project; and Environmental Legislation and Planning in Albania (ELPA)/Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS), along with case studies developed on the basis of positive examples in Albania (e.g. the REC's Green Pack educational toolkit). The implementation of the action plan focused on achieving a positive change in behaviour and involved a variety of appropriate communication interventions. Activities were planned in such a way as to involve significant interaction among project implementers and the general public through media channels and educational activities. By educating schoolchildren, it was also possible to influence families and mobilise members of the community, generating public support for the achievement of the project goals.

Project activities were implemented in the form of six main tasks:

1. The development of the National Strategy and Action Plan.

2. The publication of a newsletter to raise public awareness.

3. The creation of a project website.

4. A media campaign, including meetings and workshops with media representatives and regular articles on project-related topics.

5. The broadcasting of a television spot and documentary on forestry issues.

6. The development of an environmental education package, including:

  • a publication of forestry-related best practices;
  • a book of facts for schoolchildren;
  • a training programme for teachers;
  • outdoor awareness activities; and
  • a comprehensive CD on Albanian forest resources

Activities were implemented in a dynamic process with the broad involvement of stakeholders and communities and attracted extensive media coverage. Project products were distributed widely.

  • Awareness raising
  • Cooperation
  • Development of strategy and action plan
  • Publishing and information dissemination
  • Preparation of educational materials