International Workshop on Strategies for Development and Food Security in Mountainous Areas of Central Asia June 6-10, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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1 International Workshop on Strategies for Development and Food Security in Mountainous Areas of Central Asia June 6-10, Dushanbe, Tajikistan This document contains a series of recommendations and findings based on the discussions, papers, and proceedings from the international workshop sponsored by InWEnt, GTZ and the Aga Khan Foundation, entitled, Strategies for Development and Food Security in Mountainous Areas of Central Asia, held June 6-10 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The recommendations are wide-ranging and have varying degrees of feasibility; however, all were considered important for development in mountain areas in this region, in the eyes of the workshop participants. The recommendations are divided into four principal sub-groups: Private Sector Development, Infrastructure, Governance, and Agriculture and Natural Resource Management. Table of Contents PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT 2 INFRASTRUCTURE 3 GOVERNANCE 4 AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 5

2 Private Sector Development Recommendations 1. Regional governments should establish free economic zones (i.e. involving lower taxes, tariffs, and special investment incentives) to stimulate key economic activities in their border areas. 2. Governments should create enabling policies and mechanisms for the private sector to deliver financial products and services to mountain areas. Additionally, the registration mechanisms of NGOs and other private actors which render financial services should be simplified. 3. Donors and NGOs should support the development of the private sector by providing access to long-term financing opportunities. Donors should support financial intermediaries (NGOs, MFIs, funds, etc.) through direct investment. 4. Donors and governments should help build the capacities in business and private sector skills of regional universities and technical institutes in mountain areas. Similarly they should also assist universities serving mountain areas to improve the quality of their research, training, and sector specific outreach programs. 5. Governments should implement a series of changes which ease cross border tourism: simplify visa regulations, establish better connections between areas, provide infrastructure including communication infrastructure in tourist centers and include eco-tourism in the curricula of higher education and training programs. 6. NGOs should work with a wide range of businesses and individuals that provide tourism services drawing lessons from Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan in order to facilitate an exchange of experiences, foster a network of operators, and support capacity building measures. Donors could increase their support to NGOs that are engaged in facilitating eco-tourism in mountainous areas to conduct market studies, develop standards, and support international presentation of tourism industry. 7. Governments and NGOs should support rapid access to market information via radio and other mass media, business guides or databases. This would include utilizing existing or establishing new mobile phone services for mountainous areas. 8. To increase competition and the efficiency of markets, and to promote private sector participation, NGOs and others should create and/or improve the performance of different types of associations of buyers and sellers. 9. Donors and NGOs should assist in scaling up best practices in human resource development. 2

3 Infrastructure Recommendations 1. Create a Regional Forum with governmental representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, to address the concerns that collectively affect the four countries, notably among them, infrastructure. a) This Regional Forum would involve the multilateral and bilateral agencies if needed (i.e. the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Islamic Development Bank). b) Under this initiative, a regional advisory body (researchers, scholars, and scientists) would be created to consult on geopolitical issues pertaining to mountain areas such as cross-border security measures, environmental and cultural heritage conservation, and mountain-area focused public investment policies. 2. Identify and develop joint cross-border infrastructure proposals for projects that are environmentally friendly along with implementation strategies and involve funding from national and international sources. 3. Establish regulations (customs procedure, visa requirements, etc.), and infrastructure for the development of transboundary economic and social cooperation. This would result in the cross border facilitation for goods, services and people. 4. Assist in the setup of viable information networks in the region (radio, mobile communication, and internet) for national and cross-border rural areas. 5. Design and develop a long-term strategy for the development of mountain area schools, and equipment, funded by the government, donors, and NGOs. 6. Rehabilitate and establish a network of primary healthcare facilities (in remote areas) including the training of local medical staff (government led). 7. Formalize and support a wide scale banking system to provide mountain people with access to financial resources (by governments and donors). 8. Donors and multilateral investment agencies should assist regional governments to establish reliable telecommunication infrastructure (i.e. through one-time grants subsidizing the infrastructure but not the services) as these investments are currently not attractive for private investors. 9. Donors should assist public utilities and services in the remote mountain regions, especially in the energy sector, in part to stimulate private sector investment. 3

4 Governance Recommendations 1. Sustainable development in mountainous regions requires people s participation on all levels including regional planning - in an institutionalized setup. 2. Governments should take a lead role in providing resources to support organizations in order to foster the framework of grassroots institutions such as community village organizations and their clusters, that will enable communities to be responsible and accountable for their direction. 3. Mountain areas should be treated at par with other areas of nation-states in terms of human, political, economic and social rights. a) Mountain areas should be adequately compensated and/or protected for resources provided to lowlands; allocation of any resources in mountain areas should be executed in a transparent manner. b) Adequate representation must be ensured in parliament, relative to other regions. c) Abolish access restrictions to mountainous areas. 4. Statutory bodies should be elected on a transparent and fair basis. An independent mechanism/institution must be set up to ensure this on all levels (local, regional, and national). 5. The statutory system should include or create independent institutions for the reduction of nepotism and corruption, by adopting the following measures: a) Establishment of ombudsmen on different levels. b) Adequate remuneration of public servants. c) Allocation of external (i.e. donor) funds that is transparent and accountable to the public at all levels. 6. For the purpose of transparency and accountability, a culture of disclosure and openness should be fostered in reference to community, civic, and statutory organizations. a) Free and independent media needs to be supported, as it is a prerequisite for accountability. b) The process of local budgeting should be simplified in a way that is clearly understood and endorsed by the people. 7. Mountain areas should be declared weapon and mine free-zones to ensure internal security and basic safety, even if not immediately feasible. 8. For the enhancement of regional cooperation, appropriate legal frameworks for transboundary cooperation should be developed. Within this, a process of crossboundary consultation should be undertaken, with sharing of best practices for good governance 4

5 Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Recommendations: 1. Achieve sustainable livelihoods through increased livestock health and productivity, ensuring also that extension services are client oriented. This would necessitate training of Basic Veterinary Workers (BVWs) and paravets; vaccination campaigns; breed improvement; and enhanced animal nutrition programmes and management. 2. Processing and marketing structures for agricultural products have to be strengthened, which requires: Market studies for the areas; Quality control mechanisms; Processing facilities; and Training of farmers. 3. Access to and ownership of natural resources should involve local communities, thereby raising awareness about the value of resources and fostering local management and responsibility. a) Establish Participatory Community Forest Management at national and regional levels. 4. Full recognition of women as equal partners in the decision-making process and production, including sharing of rights and benefits, and providing equal access to education and training. 5. Interregional coordination in agricultural research must be encouraged, in order to increase the production and productivity of stable food crops and diversified crops. 6. Improve access to affordable agricultural loans/credits through revolving funds or other means. a) Establish and support microfinance agencies at a local level. 7. Education and capacity building for the rural population should be undertaken at all levels, including training activities for an by farmers, and interregional exchange of experience. 8. Community organizations should be strengthened and supported through legal and organizational assistance, as an effective means for poverty reduction and food-security, and to promote participatory planning and learning. 5

6 9. Establish a regional inter-governmental platform for natural resource management in mountain regions a) Establish and manage transboundary protected areas and Peace Parks in conflict areas, in order to protect, conserve, develop, and sustainably use the natural resources (NR) in mountain areas. b) Create a regional network of existing protected areas in the mountain regions. 10. Establish national and transboundary networks for disaster risk management, mitigation and preparedness in mountain areas, involving risk and vulnerability assessments, identification of joint projects for mitigation, and promotion of forest belts around disaster prone areas. 6

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