Evian "Ecoles de protection de l'eau" -- Argentina pilot project

25/09/2008

Visit to the new “Ecoles de protection de l’eau” pilot project in Argentina

Nathalie Rizzotti, Ramsar project officer and Danone Evian coordinator, went to the northeast of Argentina, 29 August to 5 September 2008, to visit the new “Ecoles de protection de l’eau” pilot project.

It was the first visit from the Ramsar Secretariat to one of the three projects that are called “Ecoles de protection de l’eau”. All three – the other two are located in Nepal and Thailand –  are financed by a new fund coming from the Danone-Evian partnership with the Ramsar Convention (http://www.evian-ecolesdeleau.fr/).

The project is being implemented in two Ramsar sites, Jaaukanigas and Chaco wetland, an area of more than 900,000 hectares in Santa Fé and Chaco Provinces.  

The objectives are to focus on the wise use of water resources, to work with the local stakeholders involved in maintaining or restoring wetlands, to promote the well-being and active involvement of local communities and to help providing people with fair access to natural resources.

The Argentinean project supports four main domains of activities, helping to reach these objectives:

The project helps to develop alternative activities for the fishermen communities, like fishes added value products, using for example the fish skin to make shoes or purses, or making fish tins to be sold on the local markets.

It helps to build capacities about wetland management and skills to work on the alternative activities. That helps the fisher families and especially women to get  work and a salary.

It aims to develop a participative management plan for the two Ramsar sites in order to protect natural resources and make their use sustainable for people.

And finally, the project is developing educational material for the local schools about the importance of wetlands and the significance of the Ramsar Convention.

The Ramsar Secretariat is working with a local NGO, Proteger, which has been working for years to protect wetlands and especially fishes in Argentina, and which is implementing this project at the local level.

The aim of the visit was to help the NGO to strengthen the project and to follow the start of the first activities. N. Rizzotti visited for example the capacity building center in Santa Fé where mainly women are actually working, and then went to Reconquista to visit the construction of a new capacity building center there. She finished her visit in Resistencia up north near the Paraguayan border.
 
It was also the occasion to meet the provincial and municipal authorities and to spend some time with the artisan fishermen communities. She participated in some meetings of the fishermen association and went with them to view the Ramsar site of Jaaukanigas.

They are still many threats to the wetlands and therefore to fishes, puttingthe means of living of the small fishermen in danger. The main threats are overfishing, mainly by big industries, pollution, lack of water treatment, and intentional fires in the wetland area.

To know more about activities in the region, please consult the local NGO website:
http://www.proteger.org.ar.

-- Nathalie Rizzotti, Ramsar

Capacity building center. The fishermen and their families are learning how to develop added value products with fishes.



Intentional fires on the island of the Ramsar site of Jaaukanigas



Meeting with a fishermen's association in the Chaco



Local communities collecting data in order to develop a management plan.

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