|Marine fisheries case studies |
source ref: pcs01e.htm
|3. Future of Peace Corps Marine Fisheries Programs|
Among the factors that determine the success of Peace CCorps programs in marine fisheries are the amount and kind of support given to projects and volunteers from the Peace Corps and the host country government, the qualifications and training of the volunteers, the receptivity of host country people to volunteers and the project, and the previous involvement of host country agencies and local people in marine fisheries. These and other factors influence marine fisheries programs to such an extent that in many cases, the factors become criteria for determining whether or not Peace Corps should he involved with the program. The following factors should be considered both in the planning of future marine fisheries efforts and in evaluating current Peace Corps programs in the field.
Support from the Host Country
The first criterion to be considered in deciding whether or not Peace Corps should be involved in marine fisheries projects should be the extent of commitment to the project by the host country government. If projects are seen as top priority by the government, it is more likely that money will be allocated for the projects, volunteers will be supported by the agency to which they are assigned, counterparts will be provided, and the necessary materials and equipment will be provided. Part of this commitment should be in planning programs that volunteers will be working in with Peace Corps assistance, identifying the types of positions that volunteers can fill, and ensuring that they are wanted and expected by local staff people. If the country believes the project is important this support will be forthcoming; if not, perhaps Peace Corps should reconsider their involvement in the project.
Support from the Peace Corps
The second consideration for involvement in marine fisheries is the amount of commitment that Peace Corps gives to the project. Peace Corps support starts at the planning stage when staff members meet with host country agency staff to identify possible positions for volunteers in marine fisheries projects, and goes on to the recruitment and training stages of the project. Peace Corps should be as honest as possible about the qualifications of volunteers that they will be able to get, and make sure the host country is aware of this when they request volunteers. Peace Corps overseas staff members should formulate task analyses based on visits to potential volunteer sites so that volunteers will receive appropriate training for specific jobs. Peace Corps should give potential volunteers a clear picture of the situation in the country regarding the level of technical information needed, exact job descriptions, and amount of support to be expected. Once in training, volunteers should be given technical training that is specific to their job placements. ()One point that stands out in all of these case studies is that when a local] Peace (Corps staff member had responsibility for the marine projects and had some technical understanding, projects went much more smoothly. In the same vein, Peace Corps should utilize technical resource people such as consultants or returned fisheries volunteers to plan and evaluate marine fisheries projects in the field. Peace Corps also should be careful not to place volunteers in positions that take jobs away from qualified host country professionals.
Qualifications and Expectations of Volunteers
In the past, volunteers were recruited for specific projects and those with certain skills were selected for community-type work while others were selected for technical work. Volunteers with advanced degrees in the sciences expected to do work; that was scientifically useful, and expected to have al] the necessary support in terms of equipment and funding, to do good research. In some cases volunteers with specialized academic degrees selected by Peace Corps were more concerned with professional advancement in the scientific community than with the traditional Peace Corps experience. When the necessary professional support was not available, many volunteers became frustrated and left. On the other hand, volunteers who had general backgrounds and were trained in fisheries skills felt out of their depth when faced with situations they had not been told about in training. Volunteers who were not trained in community development theory and methods were resentful when Peace Corps expected them to become involved in their communities outside of their jobs, and even when they tried they had few successes. Peace Corps needs to have clear objectives for volunteers and make sure they understand those objectives. Peace Corps should select volunteers for marine fisheries projects based upon their flexibility and their ability to work in unstructured, ambiguous situations. Volunteers also should have experience or training in community development as well as the appropriate technical skills.
Receptivity of Host Country Nationals to Volunteers
Each country reacts differently to working with Pence Corps, and in many cases such reactions have little to do with the work volunteers do. Local customs and politics can have an important bearing on the potential success of a Peace Corps project and should be considered in project selection and design, and in volunteer recruitment.
History of Host Country's Involvement with Fisheries
The last point to consider when thinking, about potential marine fisheries projects is the amount and nature of experience the country has had in the field. Countries that have no history of involvement with marine fisheries, even though receptive to such projects, will have few staff people who can support a project and give direction to volunteers. For example, in Western Samoa the Fisheries Division was set Up with the help of a volunteer, but for many years it was not able to give the necessary amounts of support to volunteers because it did not have the funding or staff capabilities to do so. Countries that have had some experience in fisheries may have attitudes towards marine fisheries that were formed by their previous exposure that could influence a project. Fishermen in El Salvador, for example, were not receptive to volunteers at first because they had had bad experiences with cooperatives. Peace Corps should be aware of these attitudes and make sure that projects take such attitudes into account in the planning stages.