BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
Under the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, the governments of Colombia and Ecuador signed a cooperation agreement in 1979 to promote and oversee the two countries' bilateral activities in the Amazonian region. In 1985, both governments reaffirmed the need to encourage sectoral activities in the border region and decided to begin to draw up a binational action plan to steer regional development towards sustainable development objectives that were compatible with their fragile ecological systems. Thus, in 1986, the Physical Planning and Management Plan for the San Miguel and Putumayo River Basins (PSP) was approved and initiated.
To carry out the activities proposed under the terms of reference of the Plan, both governments sought technical cooperation from the Department of Regional Development and Environment of the OAS. Through its Plurinational Project on Amazonian Cooperation, the OAS/DRDE provided assistance and support to the Plan throughout the work period.
Both governments appointed national bodies to serve as implementing agencies for the Plan. Colombia initially selected the Ministry of Agriculture's Colombian Institute of Water and Land Management, and Ecuador chose the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock's Agrarian Regionalization Office.
In keeping with both countries respective Amazonian development policies, PSP generally seeks to encourage environmental management in the region in order to stop the process of ecological decay and spur sustainable development by making good use of its natural resources while recognizing their limitations. Starting in 1994-95, new national agencies were designated for the final programming phase and the execution of the Plan: in Colombia the Amazonian Institute for Scientific Research (SINCHI) of the Ministry of Environment, and in Ecuador the Institute for the Ecological Development of the Ecuadorian Amazon Region (ECORAE).
LOCATION AND GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
The area encompassed by the Plan comprises the basins of the Putumayo, San Miguel, and Aguarico
Rivers, and the left bank of the Napo River in the Napo and Sucumbíos provinces in Ecuador and the Department of Putumayo in Colombia, covering an area of 47,307 km2
Studies show that the region is facing serious problems caused rapid rates of growth and settlement. This, coupled with fragile ecosystems and the inappropriate use of resources, is seriously altering the natural environment. A process of resource degradation is beginning, with inefficient production techniques having a major impact on the functioning of natural systems.
Good possibilities are emerging for long- term sustainable development through the sound management of renewable natural resources in inhabited areas and through the conservation of native parks and forests to protect their biodiversity and future development options. Their ethnic and natural assets have great development potential, which should be channeled into self-managed activities that make use of all their advantages in improving the quality of life in the region.
The following strategic guidelines have been set for achieving the objectives of the Plan:
· Regional action based on an integrated proposal
· Implementation of alternatives to conserve the largest expanses possible of natural undeveloped land, with restrictions on new settlements
· Organization and consolidation of settled areas, orienting them towards sustainable development
· Promotion of self-managed development in indigenous and settled communities
· Priority attention to the social needs of the most vulnerable groups
· Promotion of security and maintenance of social harmony
· Harmonious development on both sides of the border
· Strengthening of the management capabilities of the implementing agencies for official and private programs.
Using these strategic guidelines, a plan of action has been devised to address the main problems identified and to surmount the limitations identified in the region by making full use of its potential and affording its inhabitants an opportunity for a better quality of life. The Plan consists of five programs, each with its respective projects, components, and activities:
· Organization of Production for Sustainable Development
· Indigenous Community and Group Service
· Health and Environmental Sanitation
· Training and Community Organization
The integrated set of programs and projects are to be applied over the short and medium terms. They include viable and proven technological alternatives, which will strengthen both self-managed development efforts by indigenous and peasant communities and organizations and the activities of their support agencies and institutions, with a view to achieving sustainable development in the region.
COSTS OF THE PLAN
The total cost of the Physical Planning and Management Plan is US$200.8 million, of which US$47.8 million comes from contributions from beneficiaries, and US$153.0 from production units. This numbers represent 23.8% and 78.2% respectively.
National and local government contributions is calculated in US$10.4 million (5.2% of the total), and regional community input in US$121.2 million (60.4% of the total). The required external financing is US$69.1 million (34.4%).
Since the Plan is comprehensive, it calls for participation by most of the institutions and entities operating in the region and, fundamentally, by the beneficiary communities themselves. Efforts will be coordinated bilaterally through the Ecuador-Colombia Joint Amazon Cooperation Commission.
The Plan will be executed through a binational coordination committee comprising the government institutions responsible for regional coordination and projects in the countries and representatives of the beneficiaries and of the NGOs that will support the operations. There will also be a coordinating committee for each project, made up of specific representatives of the groups.
ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC, AND SOCIAL EFFECTS
The Physical Planning and Management Plan was conceived and drawn up with a view to protecting and conserving the tropical rain forests of the Colombia-Ecuador Amazonian border region, while affording residents a better quality of life and redressing their most pressing problems.
Special emphasis has been placed on protecting the remaining natural areas, given the importance of the existing ecosystems and wildlife. The rich biodiversity of the Napo and Putumayo zones has been recognized worldwide. Efforts will also be made in the areas of environmental organization, training, education, and research to create an awareness of the Amazon that will bring about a lasting change in the inhabitants' attitudes and lead to the sound management of natural resources in settled and undeveloped areas to attain sustainable development.
The basic social needs of the most vulnerable groups, including health, education, and employment, will be addressed and ways found to establish cost-effective models for the sustainable use of natural resources, not only to change the irrational exploitation of such resources, but also to increase residents income and quality of life.
PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS
Below is a brief description of each of the five programs comprising the Plan, including their objectives, projects, and costs.
The aim of this program is to promote sustainable development of the natural resources of the San Miguel, Putumayo, Aguarico, and Napo river basins through improved environmental management and conservation.
The projects are as follows:
· Management of natural forests, protected natural areas, and wildlife
· Environmental education
· Environmental research
Investment amounts to US$5,6 million and operating costs to US$17.5 million, with a duration of 5 years and a total implementation period of 15 years.
Program of Organization Production for Sustainable Development
This program's objective is to organize regional farming activities within a framework of sustainable development, thereby increasing output and productivity as well as income for farmers.
The projects for this program are:
· Production modules for areas with similar potential
· Processing and marketing
· Introduction and testing of promising species
· Fish farming and fisheries management
· Agricultural inputs
· Organization, training, and technical assistance
· Land titling and protection of reserve areas
Investment amounts to US$27,4 million over a period of six years, and operating costs to US$115.9, with a total implementation period of 12 years.
Program of Services for Indigenous Communities and Groups
The objective of the program is to improve the quality and standard of living of indigenous families in the region by supporting their own production techniques, community organization, and cultural values and strengthening the community's self-management and control of its resources.
The projects under this program are:
· Strengthening of organizations
· Protection of indigenous territories
· Sustainable use of natural resources
· Mechanisms to support production and community development
· Education and culture
· Health and sanitation
· Training for development
· Project identification and formulation
The investments in this program amount to US$3.6 million, the operating costs are US$4.7 million, with a six-year execution period, which may be extended for five more years.
Health and Environmental Sanitation Program
This program seeks to modify the causes of poor health, with an emphasis on basic sanitation, education, extension of coverage for primary preventive and health care, research, and interagency coordination.
The projects comprising this program are:
· Upgrading of health and sanitation administration
· Installation of basic sanitation in rural and marginal urban settlements
· Extension of coverage for primary preventive and health care
· Improvement of nutritional conditions
· Research on conditions and quality of health-care resources
· Research on the status and quality of urban health-care infrastructure
Investment amounts to US$8,4 million, and operating costs to US$10.5 million over a period of five years, with start-up, intervention, maintenance, and follow-up phases.
Training and Community Organization Program
The objective is to encourage sustainable development by creating Amazonian consciousness and a sense of belonging to the region, and by establishing conditions that will enable communities strengthen the processes of their self-managed development on the basis of the proposals contained in the Plan, with a view to improving their quality of life. The projects under this program are:
· Development of Methodology
· Binational system of Amazonian multipliers
· Training for institutional and organizational strengthening
· Advancement of rural women
Investment amounts to US$2,6 million, and operating costs to US$2.1 million with a six-year duration, concurrent with the investment phase of the other programs.