Lessons from Uruara

Although a number of innovative proposals had been formulated, it became evident later that the proposals had been negotiated between different influential local groups and did not generally ensue from PAET's studies or discussions. The researchers concluded that they had been used by local leaders to legitimize their own proposals and that the most powerful user groups ended up benefiting the most, either directly from the resources that were mobilized or indirectly through enhancement of their political image.

The major lesson of the Uruara experience was that the dynamics of local planning could not be understood without also analyzing the objectives and strategies of the numerous groups involved: technicians, politicians, tradesmen, churchmen, local teachers, and public and private organizations at regional and national levels. To establish the balance in favor or the numerous less powerful actors, it seems necessary to concentrate on helping these groups strengthen their own organizations and develop their own proposals before they reach the negotiating table.

Lastly, on the frontier such as exists around Uruara, it is not always possible to achieve good conflict resolution through negotiation and discussion of all concerned parties. Once the research team understood this reality, an option was to forget the idea of local planning and to concentrate on the reinforcement of democracy and the establishment of reliable law enforcement.

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