Calabash is about building capacity in PP and civil society engagement in the SADC region rather than doing public participation programmes per se. But, we discovered a huge need in the region for the outputs that Calabash was to develop. Core to the success of the project were 4 preliminary activities. These were:
The development of a 600 person Contact Group in the region who represent those involved in EIA and public participation (regulators, private sector, civil society and practitioners). These people were to be the key "levers" of change for the 14 countries of the SADC region.
- The creation of a Project Advisory Team of 30 people from across the SADC region who advised Calabash on a regular basis on how the programme should evolve to meet the needs of the region. These 30 people were drawn from the 600 person Contact List.
- The research and publication of a Situation Assessment on the status of EIA and PP in the SADC region. This document proved to be the foundation upon which the programme would be built as it identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to PP in the region.
- The development of a Communications Strategy which outlined how the outputs of the Calabash programme to be broadcast and made accessible to the SADC region and abroad
The other key element of Calabash's success was based on the development of partnerships with institutions, agencies and persons who were also working on public participation issues, but perhaps not from the EIA window, but through, for example, democratic reform, the democratic peer review process, United Nations Multilateral Agreements on the Environment and natural resource management. These partnerships were not "formalized" but were purposely kept informal, light and reactive so that Calabash and the other respective parties could work together in mutually beneficial manner to get most development and public participation "reach".
Calabash was managed by one person, but had 2 other key SAIEA persons for administrative support and advice. For the project to have any effect in 2 years, it had to meet PP needs of the region in a practical and accessible way. For the project funds to be secured from the World Bank, an Inception Report was drafted. But the actual outputs for Calabash could not be determined until there was direct consultation with the Contact Group and the Project Advisory team. Therefore, a key project advisory meeting was held in Windhoek in 2003 to discuss with the Project Advisory Group the outputs that should be developed. Calabash has been developed from the ground up. We researched what was working in the region and developed tools and resources around projects and programmes where public participation was done well. All Calabash products have had input from a range of stakeholders who are actively involved in community engagement to ensure the tools are practical and relevant to the social, cultural, environmental and economic realities of the SADC region.
Below is a brief summary of these agreed programme outputs
- A Guide to Opportunities for Public Participation in Environmental Assessment Processes in the Southern Africa Development Community. This handbook contains a clear description of all the rights that communities and the public have to participation in environmental decision-making as conferred by international, regional and SADC region conventions, laws and policies related to environmental impact assessment and decision-making. This document has approached the rights issue from "an opportunity to participate" perspective, and is formatted around several key questions for each SADC country.
- Generic Public Participation Terms of Reference for civil society engagement involved in a point EIA (e.g. mine site), linear EIA (e.g. pipeline) or a regional strategic environmental assessment. Also included in the document are guidelines and tips on how to develop Terms of Reference that ensure that all contracting parties achieve maximum satisfaction and results throughout the duration of the relationship for a particular project.
- A Situation Assessment, which describes and analyses the status of public participation and EIA for all countries of the SADC region.
- Research into 6 case studies in the SADC region where environmental assessment and public participation done with distinction. Time and time again, studies show that when civil society has a chance to contribute to development planning, the end result is a project or program that has more far reaching direct and indirect development benefits than were originally planned. This is the first time that 6 projects from the SADC region have gone through such detailed analysis.
- A One-Stop Participation Guide: A Handbook of Public Participation in Environmental Assessment in Southern Africa. The lessons learned from the 6 case studies were integrated into the handbook methodologies. The Handbook is unique in that it offers tips and the process to follow for public participation from the perspective of the 4 key stakeholders who are part of any Public Participation process: Regulators, Industry, Practitioners and Civil Society.
- The handbook also contains a PP Best Practice Model, a PP Review Template which can be used during the review or planning of a PP programme and a series of template letters which civil society can use to ensure that their voices are heard and respected in a respective public participation process.
- Calabash has also developed an Electronic Library of Public Participation and Civil Society Engagement tools from around the world. The library has grouped materials from the SADC region, Africa and International. Over 250 resources and manuals exist on the Calabash site.
- Also available is the 2005 Desk-Top Calendar, which devotes text for each month to the benefits of civil society engagement.
- Recently delivered was a Pilot Course on EIA and PP in Windhoek for 27 participants from across the SADC region and Africa. It is hoped this course will be offered to a wide range of stakeholders when additional funding is secured.
- The Calabash website also has published newsletters, Chat Forum, Calabash Planning workshop proceedings and a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) analysis tool to determine how well environment is being integrated into the PRSP process.
- Lastly Calabash has a wall poster in cooperation with the Centre for Public Participation, Durban.