The project “Enhancing integrated natural resource management for the restoration of wetland ecosystems and support to alternative livelihoods development of local communities”, abbreviated as the Sistan Project is a joint project between the Iranian Department of Environment (DoE) and UNDP, and is funded by the European Union. Launched in 2020, the project’s main objectives include efforts for integrated management of natural resources and socio-economic development of Sistan region with emphasis on supporting alternative livelihoods in line with competitive advantages.
Key components of the project
Capacity building and coordination
The focus of the first component is on the development of inter-sectoral capacities, stakeholders and in general on key stakeholders in the field of integrated natural resource management and socio-economic development of Sistan region at national and regional levels and help ensure optimal land management. In order to achieve this goal, a comprehensive needs and capacity assessment and analysis will be done in the current organizational framework in order to identify the shortcomings and propose intervention solutions, followed by the development and implementation of capacity building plans.
Furthermore, as geographical borders have provided the border countries and regions with huge capacities and potentials, thus fostering economic, social, political and cultural relations has become an inevitable necessity. The Sistan project, under the first component of the project, has prioritized planning in order to hold border events within the framework of the rules and requirements of the region, and for economic and social development with the aim of achieving sustainable development and establishing peace and stability in the region. These programs include activities such as festivals, border bazaars, cultural, artistic and commercial exchanges, technical workshops, knowledge exchanges, etc. Holding such programs can help promote the dialogue between countries and play an effective role in transferring experiences and sharing successful processes in the field of shared resource management.
Sustainable water and land management
In order to ensure the implementation of an integrated management plan for wetlands, the project supports the establishment of a Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan that provides a detailed list of specific and prioritized actions in agreement with beneficiaries and stakeholders. Next, the project team will work on the implementation of the action plan for watershed management, water efficiency improvement, wetland management and restoration and biodiversity protection with a special focus on the issue of adaptation to climate change.
The project encourages local communities to manage and restore the wetland, especially through the implementation of sustainable agricultural solutions in pilot farms. In this project, women will be encouraged to implement sustainable livelihoods. Moreover, a number of tools will be identified and implemented to control the effects of sandstorms and reduce drought indicators.
Local economic development including climate-smart agriculture and livelihoods that are compatible with water and soil resources
In this part of the project, activities will be carried out in order to provide technical, financial and capacity support for local economic development planning, empowerment to reduce poverty and improve entrepreneurship in Sistan Basin, strengthen the participation of women and youth in the planning process and implement local economic development strategies. These measures will be carried out through technical cooperation and with the participation of related stakeholders, using appropriate indicators and required assessments. In addition, activities are undertaken to create an enabling environment for the private sector, entrepreneurs and cooperatives to implement and increase benefits, improve product quality and gain access to new markets.
In addition to the above activities under the second and third components, another initiative called small quick-win projects is under consideration in the project implementation processes. These plans are specifically designed to engage actors who have a particular or distinct view of development, or represent people who have been deprived of the development process and who have the ability to come up with empirical or innovative solutions to overcome deprivation or deal with development challenges. These plans are implemented with due consideration of the following goals and focus on “Tourism, Handicrafts and Cultural Development”, “Women’s Economic Empowerment”, “Agriculture and Livestock”, “Fisheries and Aquaculture”, “Entrepreneurship and Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises”, “Soil, Water and Wetland Management” and “Trade and Commerce”:
1. Strengthening the institutional capacity of key organizations to achieve development goals;
2. Supporting community-based individual and group initiatives aimed at generating income and reducing poverty;
3. Helping to promote support activities between civil society organizations, government and sponsors;
4. Supporting local organizations, NGOs and groups that seek solutions to reduce problems related to natural resources, climate change and livelihoods;
Identifying possible solutions in order to test and benchmark development challenges, with emphasis on the use of indigenous knowledge