PROGRAM ACHIEVEMENTS AND PROGRESS
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Integrated Framework for Environmentally and SociallySustainable Economic Growth in the Miches Basin, Dominican Republic
The Integrated Framework will provide a flexible,transparent, dynamic, and open program for facilitating and managing long-termeconomic growth in the Municipality of Miches. As economic, environmental, andsocial conditions change, the Integrated Framework will be flexible enough toincorporate changing conditions. With respect to economic growth, the Frameworkencourages business opportunity assessments consistent with availablefinancial, environmental, and social capabilities. The Framework discusses howstakeholders can strategize improving economic, environmental, and socialcapacities. In relation to the environment, the Framework discusses how clearperformance standards can be developed to precisely monitor ongoing compliance.The Framework will describe and propose methods for providing strong incentivesto encourage environmental compliance. The Framework will provide for a processfor an ongoing assessment of the health, education, and economic well being ofthe local population and its ability to support proposed economic growth andenvironmental health. The Integrated Framework is designed to be the basis fora larger, long-term planning process involving all stakeholders in theMunicipality of Miches. The Integrated Framework will be complete by July 2008.
In order to assess the progress made in Miches as aproduct of the ESSEG program, we need to know the baseline conditions prior tothe start of the initiative. To do this, we conducted extensive terrestrialbiodiversity surveys during 2007. We are now in the analysis phase, analyzingand preparing for publication baseline biodiversity data from 77 terrestrialsites randomly chosen across the Miches watershed. We expect to publish atleast 4 technical journal articles and several more general reports. The firstreports and articles will be available by July 2008.
To examine the connection between environmental degradation and human health, we explored the relationship between environmental water quality and several baseline human health measures usingdata collected from 100 homes located across the Municipality of Miches. These data are being analyzed and prepared for publication. This will be completed byJuly 2008.
This project is an exploration of the relationshipsbetween choice of energy used for cooking, women's involvement in the economy, andenvironmental health using data collected from 100 homes located across theMunicipality of Miches. Data analysis and writing is underway and will be completed by July 2008.
Presently, sewage is untreated across theMunicipality of Miches, and is uncontained in many of its communities. These conditions have wide-ranging environmental, human health, and economic growthimplications. Our pilot project in this area focuses on building simple,effective latrines for one community and measuring their impact on public health and on environmental pollutant levels in conjunction. We are working inconjunction with the Peace Corps, members of the local community, and the private sector. We have already completed several latrines, and will outfit the entire community by late August 2008.
A single invasive freshwater plant has completely filled a freshwater lagoon in Miches, leading to the decimation of the fishing industries on which the economies of three surrounding towns are based. Inaddition, fish and plant biodiversity has collapsed in the lagoon. We have been working with the local fishermen, the Ministry of the Environment, and international experts on this problem to create a plan to control this invasive plant since March 2007. The consensus among international experts is to use sterile (non-reproductive), highly herbivorous grass carp (a fish) to eliminate the invasive plant, an approach which may not be possible given that the lagoon is a protected area. We are currently also exploring a diversity of other approaches to control the plant with the Ministry of the Environment including the use of shading dyes and salt water introduction. Once we have come to a consensus, we will set up a small, contained test control site for the preferred method. We will then assess whether that preferred method of control works in Laguna Limón, and whether we can expand it to the entire lagoon. We hope to initiate the contained tests by Fall 2008.
Communities without a reliable source of fresh drinkingwater have among the highest illness rates in the country. In addition, lack ofwater access leads to environmental degradation and erosion as people trekthrough forests to hand carry their needed water. We are working with EngineersWithout Borders from the University of South Florida to design and implement asource of water for a community uphill from any reliable water source. Planningand research began in November 07 and implementation will begin in July 2008.
We are trying to build capacity in the communitywith a series of workshops and public lectures designed to expand theirplanning capabilities and the profitability of local businesses. Theseworkshops will help to improve and diversify the economy locally, an importantcomponent of the ESSEG approach. The Municipality of Miches has historicallybeen isolated geographically and politically leading to a subsistence-basedeconomy. These types of economies often result in significant ecologicaldegradation, as well as an inability to convert natural wealth into humanwealth in a sustainable manner. We have offered one workshop on planning inMarch 2008, and are in the process of crafting others that will teach smallbusiness owners to better manage their business. This is an ongoing effort incollaboration with CE-MUJER, the Neighborhood Associations of Miches, and thePeace Corps.
In an effort to improve educational skillstraining, we are working with the Cisneros Foundation to implement theirteaching curriculum among schoolteachers in Miches. This project will trainteachers in the use of computers and productivity software such as wordprocessing, spreadsheet programs, and web browsing. These skills will thenbecome a platform for curricular innovation and dissemination. Planning andorganizing for this project is already underway and we will begin to trainteachers in August 2008.
In an initial effort to explore the possibility forrenewable energy in the Municipality of Miches, we explored the possibility ofgenerating Small Hydropower (SHP) during the summer 2007. SHP typically has anenergy output range between 1000 kW and 10 MW, is kinetic, grid-connected, anddepends on the discharge and head of the water in the system. Small HydropowerProjects are generally run-of-the-river projects, meaning that there is noreservoir created. In other words, SHP projects extract kinetic energy fromrunning water, while large hydro projects exploit dammed water. Unfortunately,we found that this otherwise promising approach is not feasible for Michesbecause the water discharge rates during the dry season are too low to generateelectricity on a meaningful scale. We will continue to explore thepossibilities of other renewable energy modalities in Miches in the future.
- Small grants project
The community small grants project aims to improve the natural environment across the Municipality ofMiches and build capacity among the participating community groups. As such,ESSEG will fund projects with a focus on environmental issues that are affecting Micheros directly and indirectly. Projects will be funded accordingto their feasibility, quality of organization, expected level of community involvement, estimated number of beneficiaries, intended results for the community, and the potential for sustainable outcomes. This is an ongoingeffort that is being developed in collaboration with CE-MUJER, the NeighborhoodAssociations of Miches, and the Peace Corps. We expect to start developing proposals with communities during summer 2008.
- Marine mammal surveys
We are working with Wildlife Trust, the AutonomousUniversity of Santo Domingo, and local NGOs to develop a map of marine mammal presence in the Miches area. Based on this map, we will create a managementplan that ensures the health of each marine mammal species and to utilize the presence of marine mammals to strengthen the Miches economy via whale watching(as well as the viewing of manatees and dolphins), and use the information to ensure regional conservation for marine mammal species. The permits for this project were issued in May 2008 and the surveys will begin in July 2008.
- Sewage treatment
We are in the initial phases of developing a project with the Engineers Without Borders chapter at Columbia University that would engineer a solution to sewage treatment in the urban core of Miches. Thisambitious project would be among the first of its kind in the DominicanRepublic, as rural sewage treatment plants not affiliated with international tourism resorts are exceedingly rare. Planning will likely begin in fall 2008.
- Reforestation plan
Deforestation has been rampant across the higher altitudes of the Miches Watershed largely to facilitate livestock grazing, but the impacts are greatest at the lower elevations due to the additive nature ofdownstream erosion. Deforestation enables huge amounts of fertile topsoil to be eroded quickly under the heavy seasonal rains, washing sediment, fertilizers,pesticides, and other human-created toxins into the streams and thus out to the coastal coral reefs. Upland deforestation, and riparian deforestation in particular, has thereby led to a host of economic problems affecting most people across the municipality. We expect to begin mapping existing forest byJuly 08, experimenting with different native tree reforestation schemes in fall2008, and create a riparian reforestation plan with the Ministry of theEnvironment by winter 08. We hope to begin implementation of that plan in summer 2009.
- Organic agriculture
Organic agriculture will make food grown in theMunicipality of Miches valuable and unique for the region. We have surveyed the farmers in the area and there is a profound interest in developing capacity fororganic food production. We are developing connections with several local,national, and international agencies with expertise and interest in bringing organic agriculture to the Bahía de Samaná. We are also discussing a possiblepartnership with the private sector. We hope to begin this process by summer2009.
- Training ecotourism guides
Given that tourism is going to form a significant portion of the economy of the Municipality of Miches in the near future, it would be advantageous to equip Micheros with the skills to behigher-level participants in this endeavor. Natural wealth abounds in Miches and the local people know it better than most people. We are thereforedesigning a training program to help Micheros build upon their already-existingknowledge and to communicate their knowledge of nature to tourists. We hope to begin this process by summer 2009.<!--EndFragment-->