2017 Volume 7 Pages 5-16
Although international cooperation projects are widely implemented under the rhetoric stressing the significance of a participatory and community-based approach, scant evidence indicates truly positive and sustainable outcomes. Despite the growing number of researchers and practitioners who insist on the importance of developing a bottom-up and community-driven approach that ensures a community＇s sense of ownership, few researchers have succeeded in developing a concrete model based on empirical data. This article aims to explore a feasible model that enables strengthening of local community＇s sense of ownership through an international cooperation project. It is based on an experience gleaned from a peatland fire prevention project supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) implemented in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. In-depth, semistructured interviews suggest that sufficient opportunities for communities to discuss, make decisions and act for themselves through facilitation, and connection with different stakeholders within a network to enable access to a locally appropriate knowledge base may be an efficient and effective way to strengthen a sense of ownership. It is also a pathway to achieve sustainable community development with the use of donors＇ external support. In addition, this study＇s findings imply that initiating a discussion on livelihood-related topics and gradually sharing information on risks caused by environmental destruction may enhance community members＇sense of ownership toward environmental conservation activities.