Indonesian province of West Papua to determine the current behavior status of target communities within the South Sorong Marine Protected Area (MPA). The assessment was to support the BCC program that is being implemented by the United States Agency for International Development Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced Project (USAID SEA), a five-year (2016-2021) technical assistance project to help strengthen the management, protection and conservation of marine and fisheries resources in the waters of Indonesia, particularly in Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 715, where the study site is located. BCC is an interactive approach to develop theory-based and research-driven communication strategies to promote positive behaviors and support an environment that enables individuals or communities to initiate, sustain, and maintain positive and desirable behavior outcomes over time. USAID SEA uses this approach to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable fishing practices among its target coastal communities and stakeholders.
The assessment was conducted by USAID SEA with implementing partner World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and involved 54 community respondents and 12 respondents from the local Community-based Surveillance Group (POKMASWAS), mostly from three villages in the sub-districts of Konda and Kokoda in West Papua’s South Sorong District, which was selected as behavior change learning site for a local community surveillance system centered on the POKMASWAS and attached to the MPA establishment and management process in the region. Some of the key findings were:
- The study sites in Konda, although geographically closer to the district capital, showed considerably less awareness about the POKMASWAS system (<20 percent of respondents were aware) compared to Kokoda (>70 percent aware), which is more distant from South Sorong. However, there was unanimous interest in participating in surveillance and compliance activities.
- The absence of on-site facilitators is seen as the main cause of the lack of community awareness in the study sites. Fortunately, WWF has a fisheries enumerator stationed in a nearby village so there is opportunity to at least begin, without too much delay, filling the urgent gap in awareness. In addition to monitoring and recording fish landing activities, the enumerator can work on engaging communities, promoting conservation, and identifying local champions. WWF will provide the enumerator with training in community organizing and the social skills needed to successfully do the job.
- In addition to performing their surveillance functions, POKMASWAS members can also serve as informants, communicators, and change agents in general, in line with USAID SEA’s BCC activities for the remainder of the life-of-project. Parallel to this, WWF is committed to provide capacity building support and to work with the government to promote POKMASWAS as a model of collaborative surveillance at the community level.
The immediate follow-up actions to occur in the next 6 months recommended by the assessment included: (i) Engage more local champions; (ii) roll out awareness activities to increase awareness level by 50% from the current level, (iii) facilitate effort to turn the community’s willingness into community surveillance and patrol actions, (iv) strengthen POKMASWAS knowledge and skills to support the community surveillance system, (v) legalize community consensus into local regulation to promote law enforcement in the areaagreed adat (customary) sanctions and strengthened POKMASWAS roles in surveillance and reporting incidents to local authorities); and (vi) monitor behavior changes and prepare for cross-sectional evaluation around the second quarter of 2020.