The Future Okavango
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SP10 - Governing trans-disciplinarity and capacity development for enabling ESF&S management innovations


Dr. Thomas Falk
Philipps-University Marburg
Faculty of Business Administration & Economics
Institute for Co-operation in Developing Countries
Am Plan 2
35032 Marburg

Phone: +49 6421 2823734
Fax: +49 6421 2828912



Subproject SP10 supports the interaction between the scientific project team and non-scientific stakeholders. The main objective of SP10 is to design and facilitate a participatory research process which links science to management as well as decision- and policy-making. This process most efficiently combines the resources of scientist and stakeholders in order to maximize creativity and relevance. It also increases stakeholders’ capacity to enable, reproduce and develop ESF&S management and governance innovations.

On the basis of scientific knowledge and methodologies, “The Future Okavango” project will contribute to the process of understanding the status-quo, searching for solutions, following and evaluating changes, and analysing and feeding back results. This process will support resource users, statutory and customary policy makers, extension officers and development agents to develop and implement innovations in a way that the probability of sustainable land and water management is increased.


Subproject SP10 is divided into three closely interlinked tasks:

  • The objective of Task 1 is to establish a framework within the overall project that supports and encourages all subprojects to include stakeholders at all stages of the research cycle. Task1 will coordinate and facilitate stakeholder interaction in order to reduce transaction costs of trans-disciplinarity for scientists. A crucial part of this task will be to establish trust between the project team and stakeholders. One key instrument of Task 1 is the facilitation of stakeholder driven Forums of Integrated Resource Management (FIRM). Our main channels to involve stakeholders into the project are illustrated in Figure 1.

  • The objective of Task 2 is to use films as a means to involve stakeholders into the project and to communicate project activities to different audiences. Enabling representatives of stakeholders such as local resource-users, traditional authorities, and NGOs to conceptualize, direct and shoot films about their concerns will initiate discussions amongst scientific and non-scientific stakeholders. The process of filmmaking thus constitutes a platform for the negotiation of different and even conflicting perspectives. The outcome will be a series of films related to ESF&S that are analyzed by our team and thereby help to understand the socio-ecological system of the basin.

  • The objective of Task 3 is to employ and train members of rural land user communities at the focal areas of The Future Okavango project as para-ecologists. The para-ecologists are trained on the job and during annual training workshops in the field of socio-economic research, monitoring and management tools as well as methods of awareness raising. The acquired skills will enable them to become a vital link between local stakeholders and academic researchers. They will facilitate a communication process which is both informed and at the same time rooted in the local land user community. For this purpose, a strong component of the para-ecologist training is the development of soft skills in the field of communication and dealing with inter-sectoral and inter-cultural conflicts. Para-ecologist will support the process of establishing local level FIRMs. In this way they will also gain important knowledge in the field of organisational development.