Training future birding guides at Oued El Hajar water reservoir in Tunisia. © Hichem Azafzaf
Bird identification training. © Hichem Azafzaf
The most exciting part is certainly working with the LCGs and with the young project managers, who are the future local birding guides. It was fascinating for me to see how they have assimilated the idea of the project, developed it at local level and transformed it at each step. It is a feature of this project that perfectly meets AAO’s development strategy to diversify LCGs for IBAs in Tunisia to become a more sustainable "sentinels" network, effectively guarding the biodiversity at each of the five sites.
Today, I see these associations advancing also because of the many trainings and exchanges that we have been able to achieve, and I am especially thankful for the support of the five young birding guides who are leaders within their organizations and who inspire others. Also, new project ideas at the local level have emerged, and proposals have been developed and submitted to donors.
Another important aspect is certainly the creation of the local site management support committees for each of the sites. The committees comprise all site stakeholders, and are great tools for the regular exchange of information and consultation around the sites. This does not mean that there are no more problems, but at least these are discussed and the positive forces seek to find solutions together.
Long-legged buzzard at his outlook in Ichkeul National Park. © Hichem Azafzaf
AAO has specifically developed different types of training for the local nonprofits to be LCGs. This coaching program includes training in different topics such as project management, development of projects and fundraising, identification and census of birds, biodiversity monitoring protocols, load capacity and assessment of impacts, conflict management, development of ecotourism, and promotion and marketing activities.
The training program for each LCG is based on a preliminary analysis of the capacity of the NGOs involved and the capacity necessary to achieve the objectives of the project. In addition, joint activities allow local NGOs, and in particular local birding guides, to observe and draw on AAO’s mode of operations. NGOs also receive support through the development of working tools and documents, including inventories and monitoring protocols, capacity assessment and monitoring methodology, the charters for customers and service providers, local bird identification guides, and more.
Educational activities in partnership with the children’s club in El Haouaria, Tunisia. © Hichem Azafzaf
So far, five LCGs have been created, involving seven NGOs. An additional three NGOs have also benefitted from many of the capacity building measures. But capacity building is not limited to the LCG and the local bird watching guides. Through the creation of local site management support committees, the knowledge and capacity is passed from the LCGs to other local stakeholders, which include site managers, government representatives, other NGOs, research institutes and interested individuals.
If you are living near one of the sites, or any other IBA in Tunisia, be active and join (or initiate) the LCG or the Local Site Management Support Committee. If you are a tourist, nature lover, birdwatcher, or interested in trying local food, come and experience a guided trip to these wonderful sites. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you enjoy an authentic experience.