Many managers of marine protected areas have limited formal training in MPA management. In the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), for example, it is often the case that MPA managers have received their training at wildlife management colleges, with little instruction in marine issues.

In August 2000, MPA News reported on a course offered in Kenya to train MPA managers in the WIO region, part of a project to build managerial capacity in MPAs (MPA News 2:2). The course, delivered a second time in 2002 and scheduled again in 2004, now features a comprehensive, up-to-date training manual, covering nearly every aspect of MPA management, from marine ecology and monitoring to public relations and financial management. This month, MPA News revisits the training course and how it has been built to address participants’ needs.

Designed to encourage personal development

The two-week course is divided into 10 modules. Most of the modules were developed by experts from the region and have incorporated regional experiences and case studies, in addition to analytical and problem-solving exercises. The training course features lectures, facilitated discussions, and small-group activities, all supported by handouts and other materials in the manual. (Course planners included personnel from the Coastal Zone Management Center of the Netherlands, the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Dar es Salaam [Tanzania], the Western Indian Ocean Marine Sciences Association [WIOMSA], and the World Bank.)

“These modules are meant to introduce some main concepts and tools that managers may find useful and try to apply in their day-to-day work situations,” says Julius Francis of WIOMSA, who leads the project. “As with all adult-learning programs, application is the most important part of learning.”

In that light, the course is designed not only to teach concepts but also to help participants develop their own “personal action plans”. Each personal action plan identifies the issues facing a participant’s MPA and a course of action for addressing those issues, using lessons learned from the course. Field excursions organized through the course and the exchange of personal experiences add further benefits.

Next year, in collaboration with the IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Office, the course planners will release a toolkit intended to supplement the training manual. Designed to be a reference guide for finding more detailed information, the toolkit will provide links to sources such as websites, publications, and organizations that can assist practitioners, as well as offer additional case studies on successes and failures of various management techniques.

In 2000, Francis told MPA News that organizers were considering developing a communications network for regional MPA managers, but that few of the parks in the region had reliable telephones or owned a computer. Now, he says, that has changed, with accessibility to the internet significantly increased through the region. He expects discussions on the goal of electronically networking managers to resume soon.

One challenge that remains for the project is that of the region’s multiple languages. There are four main languages in the WIO region, but the training course and manual are in English only. The two courses held so far have still attracted managers from French- and Portuguese-speaking nations, but there has been interest expressed in offering the course and manual in other languages.

For more information:

Julius Francis, WIOMSA, P.O. Box 3298, Zanzibar, Tanzania. Tel: +255 24 2233472; E-mail:

BOX: Funding the Western Indian Ocean course

When the MPA management-training course was first held in 2000, all costs – including the travel and lodging of participants – were covered by the Coastal Zone Management Center (CZMC) of the Netherlands through a grant from the World Bank/Netherlands Partnership Programme. For the course in 2002, the core costs (i.e., trainers and organizers) were covered by the CZMC and the Eastern Africa component of the UN Environment Programme/International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). The cost of participants was shared among the CZMC and various other organizations. Discussions on funding for the third course, to be held in 2004, are underway between organizers and potential funding agencies.

The 2000 course was held at the Malindi Marine Park, Kenya. The 2002 course was at the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa.

For more information: Carien von Zwol, World Bank/Netherlands Partnership Programme. E-mail:

BOX: For a copy of the training manual

A limited number of paper copies of the 267-page training manual are available for distribution outside the WIO region. A CD-ROM version of the manual is expected to be available later in 2003.

For more information: Julius Francis, WIOMSA. Tel: +255 24 2233472; E-mail:

BOX: Excerpt from the training manual – Tips for conflict resolution

The training manual for MPA managers in the Western Indian Ocean provides readers with tips on developing useful skills. Such skills include conflict resolution, which can be helpful in managing stakeholder involvement in an MPA. The following tips were excerpted by MPA News from Training for the Sustainable Management of Marine Protected Areas: A Training Manual for MPA Managers:

1. Identify the causes of conflict:

  • Use active listening. One of the biggest causes of conflict is that people do not listen to each other. Establish eye contact and don’t interrupt. We are not only showing respect when we listen; we are finding out information that can help us resolve the conflict.
  • Ask questions that reveal a willingness to understand, such as “What is it about the situation that bothers you?”

2. Create an effective atmosphere. Choose a neutral venue and set times to suit all parties.

3. Focus on the problem, not on defeating the other party. Look for shared needs and concerns and find common ground.

4. The major breakthrough in conflict occurs when both parties see the conflict as a problem for both of them to solve (“our problem”).