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close this bookParticipatory Methods in Community-based Coastal Resource Management - Volume 1 - Introductory Papers (IIRR, 1998)
close this folderCommunity-based coastal resource management
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View the documentPrinciples of CBCRM
View the documentComponents of CBCRM
View the documentThe CBCRM cycle
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Community-based coastal resource management (CBCRM), is a comprehensive strategy that seeks to address the multi- faceted issues affecting the coastal environment through the active and meaningful participation of coastal communities. More importantly, it seeks to address the core issue of open- access, with all its inefficient and iniquitous consequences, by strengthening the community's access and control over their resources.


Underlying the term "community-based" is the principle that primary resource users should also be the rightful managers of their resources. This makes it distinct from other natural resource management strategies which are either highly centralized or fail to involve communities who are directly dependent on the resource.

Experiences in many countries show that centralized management systems have not been very effective in managing coastal resources in a sustainable manner. As a result, many coastal communities have lost their sense of "ownership" and responsibility over their coastal areas. Through its various processes, CBCRM hopes to restore this sense of "ownership" and responsibility.


CBCRM is also a process through which coastal communities are empowered politically and economically so that they can assert and gain rightful access and management control over their coastal resources.

Ideally, the move to initiate such a process should come from the community itself. Given their disempowered situation, however, most communities lack the capacity to initiate the process of change by themselves. This, among other factors, has led outside agencies and organizations to facilitate the processes involved in CBCRM, including community organizing work.

Principles of CBCRM

Following are the generally accepted principles governing CBCRM:


In coastal communities, empowerment is the development of the ability (power) to exercise management control of resources and institutions to enhance own livelihoods and secure sustainable use of resources upon which communities depend. This is often done in conjunction with established agencies of government.


By strengthening the communities' access and control over coastal resources, there is greater chance that economic benefits will accrue locally. The successful management of the resources by community-based organizations can also contribute to their recognition as legitimate partners in coastal resource management.

Empowerment also means building the capability and the capacity of the community to efficiently and effectively manage their resources in a sustainable manner.


The principle of equity is linked with the principle of empowerment. Equity means that there is equal access to opportunities among people and among classes. Equity would be attained when small fishers have equal access to the opportunities that exist for the development, protection and management of coastal resources.


CBCRM also ensures that there is equity between the present and future generation by providing for mechanisms that ensure the protection and conservation of coastal resources for future use.

Ecological soundness and sustainable development

CBCRM promotes technologies and practices that are not only appropriate to the socio-cultural and economic needs of the community, but are also ecologically-sound. That is, technologies that recognize the carrying or absorptive capacity of resource and ecosystems.


Sustainable development, on the other hand, means seriously considering the state and nature of the natural environment while pursuing economic development that does not compromise the welfare of future generations. Caring for the environment is integral to the principle of stewardship which recognizes that people are simply guardians of this earth.

Respect for traditional/indigenous knowledge

CBCRM recognizes the value of indigenous knowledge and wisdom. It encourages the adoption and use of traditional/indigenous knowledge in its various activities and processes.



CBCRM recognizes the unique roles and contributions of men and women in the productive and reproductive spheres. CBCRM promotes equal opportunities for meaningful participation of both women and men in resource management.


Components of CBCRM

Resource tenure improvement

Resource tenure improvement means gaining/ensuring access and management control by the community over productive resources. This is also called the clarification of use rights or community property rights. Operationally, this means institutionalizing access and control through national or local policies or legislation. This is largely achieved through effective community organizing and policy advocacy work.


Capability building

Capability-building means empowering the community through education, training and organizational development. Environmental or conservation education is a critical part of capacity building. It helps to build a common understanding of the often complex and interrelated aspects of coastal resource management. By emphasizing local issues, environmental education can build awareness and skills that contribute to the capacity of individuals and communities to effect change.


Community leaders build their confidence through the acquisition of knowledge and skills. It also includes building and strengthening the people's organizational capacity (e.g., training its leaders, expanding its membership, acquiring funds and assets, installing organizational systems, networking). All these efforts are directed towards achieving greater autonomy and self-reliance for the community-based organizations and the community as a whole.

Environmental conservation

Coastal habitats support the coastal resource base. Once habitats are degraded or destroyed, there is an immediate impact on resource productivity. The health of coastal habitats is directly related to the intensity and type of activities carried out to exploit the resources.


Environmental conservation focuses on the rehabilitation, enhancement and protection of the coastal habitats. Examples of these measures include the establishment of marine reserves and sanctuaries, and mangrove reforestation and rehabilitation.

Environmental conservation should cover the various coastal ecosystems because these ecosystems are interconnected, from the watershed to the open sea. Environmental conservation is closely linked with regulation and strict enforcement of environmental laws to minimize the damaging impact of some activities on the coastal resource base.

Sustainable livelihood development

Food security is a primary concern of CBCRM. Sustainable livelihood development plays a key role in ensuring the economic and food security of fishers. Livelihood is the main point of interaction between the fisher and the coastal resource. The type of interaction determines whether the use is Sustainable or not.


Sustainable livelihood development may involve introduction of alternative land- or sea-based livelihoods (e.g., pig or livestock dispersal, mariculture), promotion of existing sustainable livelihoods, modifications or improvements to existing livelihoods and campaigns against destructive methods. Promotion of household and village food security is an important aspect of this component.


The CBCRM cycle

The CBCRM cycle has four major phases: planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation (PIME). The phases vary in length and level of complexity depending on the capability of the community to undertake the activities in each phase. This is a continuous process which the community undertakes with or without assistance from an external facilitator. The process discussed in the text below is for a comprehensive CBCRM cycle, but there can be smaller, focused cycles for specific projects (e.g., mangrove rehabilitation).


Planning phase

Assessment or pre-planning

During the assessment phase, a comprehensive coastal community profile is compiled to serve as the basis for planning activities and, at the same time, to provide baseline data for future monitoring and evaluation. The data can be broadly categorized into ecological, social, economic, institutional and cultural aspects of the coastal community. The type and extent of information collected must serve the basic needs of future resource management processes but must also reflect community priorities that arise during problem and issue analysis. In CBCRM, social and economic issues are seen as part of resource management challenges, not as separate issues.

Secondary data is collected, and a participatory analysis of these data is conducted at the community level to validate the existing information and identify data gaps and further information needs. Through this process of interaction and collaboration, community leaders and key sectors (e.g., fishers' organizations) may be identified. These leaders or key sectors may be given additional training and can be encouraged to play key roles in CBCRM. Initial environmental education can be conducted during the assessment stage.

The data gaps/needs are filled using a variety of different participatory methods and techniques. The participatory methods to be used depend on the capability of the community and/or facilitators. Different community sectors are encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences.

At the end of this stage, there should be sufficient information available to prepare a comprehensive coastal community profile. The community may also start to identify potential options for developing CBCRM.

Once the coastal community profile has been consolidated, the CBCRM facilitator focuses on participatory methods that assist the community to:

· identify issues and problems of common concern; and
· identify strategic objectives (desired changes).

Coastal community profile

Environmental data

· Assessment of existing coastal habitats and resources (land and sea)
· Bio-geographical features, presence of watersheds and other connecting ecosystems
· Climate, conditions, oceanographic information
· Polluting industries and other major impacts in the area

Socio-economic data

· Demography
· Health
· Education
· Religion, history and culture
· Economy (household and community levels)
· Infrastructure
· Peace and order situation
· Gender roles

Resource use data

· Resource-based livelihoods (fishers, farmers, etc.)
· Commodity flows, marketing
· History of resource use and analysis of trends

Institutions and legal framework

· Land ownership and tenure
· Coastal resource access and existing management
· Existing support services, institutions and organizations
· Community structure, political situation


Planning proper

In this phase, the coastal community uses the information generated to formulate various plans using participatory methods. These plans should be structured around the four CBCRM components (capability building, sustainable livelihood development, resource tenure improvement, environmental conservation).

A long-term community development plan (e.g., a 3-5 year strategic development plan) is prepared first. This plan should reflect in operational terms the community's vision and goals. It should also contain its strategic objectives and targets. The community must determine whether the plan is feasible and if the impacts/risks (environmental and socio-economic) are manageable and/or acceptable. Any additional data needed for this risk and feasibility assessment should be gathered using participatory methods.

The community development plan is then translated into specific action plans that describe the different activities to be undertaken over shorter periods of time.

The community must be able to identify sources of funds and potential partners (e.g., non-government organizations, government, academe, donor agencies) for their plans and activities.


During this stage, the community members execute their CBCRM action plans. This can include community capability building activities, environmental education, resource and ecosystem conservation initiatives and sustainable livelihood development projects. Identified appropriate strategies and technologies are researched, developed, tested, and when successful, adopted and replicated. Education and other technical inputs are often required to successfully implement the CBCRM plan.

Implementation mechanisms, either in the form of task forces or committees or multisectoral councils, should be put in place. Program management systems must also be installed (e.g., communication, finance, administrative policies).

Networking and establishing linkages between the community and external organization/individuals must be initiated to lend additional support to CBCRM activities.


Monitoring is done to record the progress of the project or certain changes in particular indicators at certain regular intervals during the project implementation. It allows adjustments to be made in the targets and plans, or to employ appropriate interventions midstream, if necessary, in order to achieve certain targets on time.

Key to effective monitoring is the selection of appropriate indicators earlier on during the planning phase. The indicators will eventually define the degree of success achieved (or not achieved) by the program or project.


The evaluation stage aims to establish the effectiveness of the CBCRM process by assessing the capability of the coastal community and the accomplishment (or if sufficient time has passed, the impact) of the individual projects/activities measured against the project's objectives and targets. It allows for critical changes to be done following the analysis of end results vis a vis the program targets and objectives.


Various aspects of monitoring and evaluation are usually carried out by different organizations, committees, volunteers and external facilitators. Training on participatory monitoring and evaluation methods will be needed by these different groups. All of the groups will need to feedback the monitoring and evaluation results to the wider community.

At the end of the CBCRM project cycle, there may be a more extensive strategic evaluation to look at more qualitative indicators or impact.

Failures should not be hidden. The community should analyze these to ensure that the mistakes are not repeated and to gain insights into how they can adjust and improve. Lessons learned from the successes and failures should be incorporated into the planning cycle and shared with other communities.


Dela Cruz, Q. L. 1994. Community-based coastal resource management: A response to an open-access coastal fishery resource. Lundayan Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4

TRIMARRD. Program paper 1995. Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhiLDHRRA), Manila, Philippines.

VSO. 1993. Our sea, our life. Proceedings of the seminar-workshop on community-based coastal resources management. Voluntary Service Overseas, Quezon City, Philippines.