Designated in 2005, the Urok Islands Marine Protected Area is Guinea Bissau’s first community MPA. It is the fruit of 15 years of work by Tiniguena, a local NGO, in collaboration with local communities and institutions, the Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin (FIBA), and other national and international partners. Lessons from planning and managing the Urok community MPA are documented in the report Live from Urok! Urok Islands Community Marine Protected Area: Lessons Learned and Impacts, available at http://bit.ly/cVWEux.
Below is an excerpt of one of the report’s key lessons from Urok, on building confidence and trust in the local community:
Local populations need to acquire trust in their own ability to manage their territory; so working with long time frames is important. “One of the project’s key words is trust,” stresses Augusta Henriques, Tiniguena Director. “Tiniguena has long been working with the local communities on the Urok Islands. Thanks to this work, people have seen their living conditions improve. It has given them enough faith in themselves and in change to invest in guaranteeing their future. Some MPAs are created by decree and spring up overnight. On the Urok Islands, we took all the time we needed. It’s like a gestation period, the time we need to let the baby develop properly before being born. Time is very precious, since our partners and sponsors pressure us to produce very short-term results. On the Urok Islands, we took the time needed for the process to develop fully, so that when the decree was approved it was recognizing a de facto situation. There is now a great internal capacity to create solutions, and this is what makes the MPA resilient.”