03 / 1994
It has been widely accepted for some time now that rural development has not achieved its goals. A conference convened by UNICEF held in February/march 1994 came up with some factors that need constant attention. PEC is the concept by which local groups or communities organise themselves with varying degrees of external support to apply their skills and knowledge to care for their natural resources and enviornment while satisfying livelihood needs. Without involving communities and people substantially, development become one sided. PEC thus is a process by which local groups acquire or recapture power and knowledge to address their own development needs within systems of environmental management that are sustainable. The three important aspects identified are:
(1) meeting basic needs
(2) empowering people and communities
(3) preservation and optimal use of resources
Certain preconditions for PEC programmes are mentioned.
(a) They should be process oriented and as such adaptable to changing circumstances
(b) build on local systems of knowledge and management
(c) strengthen local institutions and social organisations
(d) ensure the participation of local people in all stages of planning implementation management and monitoring.In Sri Lanka sometimes these conditions are not fulfilled. Decisions are taken without reference to the people concerned and may not serve their best interests.
For instance some agricultural farmers have been asked to cultivate gherkins on their rice fields for export. They get US$25 per quarter, an income with which they are able to do much more than before. But they now have to buy their daily rice, their staple diet. Will the fields be environmentally sound after several years of gherkin cultivation? Is the short term benefit at the cost of their long term interests?
It is important to address these questions one by one and find satisfactory solutions.
Draft for discussion at Workshop on Primary Environment Care (PEC)28 february - 2 March 1994
CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENT EDUCATION
IRED Asie (Development Support Service) - 562/3 Nawala Road - Rajagiriya - Sri Lanka Tel : 94 1 695 481 - Fax : 94 1 - 688 368