Evaluation of Marine Resource Programs In US Peace Corps Micronesia
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Over the last two decades US Peace Corps has implemented programs to assist Micronesia in the management and conservation of its marine resources. Most of these programs were heavily focused on building capacity and providing technical assistance at government and agency level. Programs focused on monitoring resources, developing aqua-culture and eco-tourism opportunities, drafting policy and management plans, promoting traditional fishing practices and educational outreach. These programs have since been terminated, and the Peace Corps has consolidated its efforts into communitybased programs (education and youth development). In some cases, volunteers have been assigned secondary projects in marine resource education. A survey was administered to volunteers who served in two of these terminated marine resources programs to identify challenges in building capacity at the government and agency level. These volunteers determined that training prior to Peace Corps service (technical, cultural, and language) was adequate in preparing them for their two year assignments. They implemented projects with their host agency assignments to satisfy program goals. However some host agencies insisted volunteers worked on projects more suited to the agency’s agenda. Programs were developed to be compatible with Micronesian culture and applicable to its developing economy and society. However several challenges hindered the ability of these programs to achieve long term sustainability beyond two year term of the volunteer. These challenges included: lack of community integration, lack of host agency volunteer-counterpart partnerships, and grant funding dependence. Several volunteers also described that Peace Corps administration and local agency and/or community leadership were not dedicated to program specifics and that this leadership was crucial to program success. A list of recommended program improvement areas was constructed from these volunteers’ survey responses, which the Peace Corps could consider in choosing secondary projects in marine resource management. These recommendations included that projects should focus on primary education and in community based (managed) areas with cultural practices integrated. They should incorporate assertive community leadership that motivates local program counterparts to be more dedicated to implementing program goals. Projects should not be heavily dependent on volunteer ability to gain grant funding for project survival. Peace Corps administration should increase efficiency in communication and commitment to each volunteer’s personal assignment, when financially feasible. These recommendations were then compared to the goals of a current secondary marine resource education and management project in a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. It was determined that several of the recommendations were in keeping with the goals of this project. Based on this discovery, a list of additional community based marine protected areas was identified which would be appropriate for Peace Corps support. The Peace Corps should consider expanding into these secondary project opportunities should they meet current program guidelines for education and youth development in Micronesia.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
SubjectUnited States Peace Corps
Federated States of Micronesia
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
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