Future Together is specifically interested in participatory development as applied to community projects in Cyprus that; deal mainly with physical spaces; focus in particular on cultural and natural heritage; contribute in one way or another to the ongoing reconciliation process on the island.
In accordance with these criteria, Future Together decided to focus its analysis on five main projects that used participatory approaches in Cyprus. These projects were selected among projects UNDP-ACT had supported or had interacted with, since a wealth of information and analysis was already available on those projects. These projects are truly participatory projects, which are examples of current participatory development models in Cyprus. These case studies, which are all at different stages of maturity, are:
The Nicosia Master Plan
The Nicosia Master Plan (NMP) has been the first of its kind and is the longest project among the five that have been covered in the research phase of Future Together. NMP covers a period of four decades and its participatory levels have varied between periods and the political climate. In 1979, when the project was started, a participatory process was not a priority. The project teams (both TC and GC) of that period acknowledge that a consultation process was missing at the time of needs assessment and planning, and add that it was not a priority for them at the time.
The NMP was inspired by the representatives of the two municipalities of Nicosia, Mr Lellos Demetriades and Mr Mustafa Akinci. It started off as an attempt to redesign the drainage system and with the successful planning and implementation of this cooperation, the two municipalities decided on planning to revive the old city and develop a plan for future development. These plans led to the development of the NMP. The NMP was turned into legislation in the GCC, whereas it remained as a Master Plan in the TCC for a very long time (it only became a legislation in 2000 in the TCC). Although a separate Nicosia Master Plan Team office was established in the GCC, this has not been seen as necessary in the TCC. The fact that there was neither a legislation nor a separate office has led to some implementation problems in the TCC.
The compositions of the project teams in both communities have been changing, both due to needs and inevitably since it has been a long lasting project. The municipalities of the two communities defined the stakeholders as the different offices whose cooperation would be necessary in the implementation of the project. The stakeholders consisted of the Municipalities of Nicosia (TC and GC), the Department of Town Planning and Housing (in the GC) and the Departments of Town Planning and Antiquities (in the TC) as well as the UNDP. Although both project teams said their teams were composed of professional experts,which had the required capacities, the TC team mentioned the lack of a sociologistor an expert on social issueswho would have been useful in understanding the social needs of the beneficiaries and the general public that is important in producing a Master Plan. The UN provided financial support (some funds came from USAID via the UNDP/UNOPS Bi-Communal Development Programme, while others came from the EU via UNDP’s Partnership for the Future) and its main role was to facilitate communication between the GC and TC project teams.
Cultural Heritage Circle Preservation Project
This project is a cultural heritage preservation project in the village of Kontea/Türkmenköy. It can be listed as the first example of a bottom-up preservation project with the successful cooperation of the current and old residents of a village.
The Cultural Heritage Circle Preservation Project is one of the few success stories of participatory development projects in Cyprus. It involves the restoration of a few buildings in the village (church, mosque, aqueducts, peace park and central plaza) of the village, with the cooperation of former and current residents of the village. The process started when a group of former residents contacted some current residents of the village and developed a project that was supported by the UNDP. After the initial contact of the core individuals from the two communities there was a dinner organized to ‘break the ice ’between the two groups of residents. This is listed by many as one of the best practices of this project, since the groups of people who would work very closely in the future first got to know each other on a social basis and became ‘friendly’. Additional members joined the project because they were interested in the cause. After the project design and proposal writing stage, there were additional needs in terms of professionals, and thus a technical team was organized.
The Management team was organised as follows:
• The project team, consisting of experts (civil engineers, architects).
• The management committee, basically the steering committee, which provided the direction of action for the project and included active members of the two communities.
The use of 3 languages in the meetings was also helpful in keeping a broad composition of the management teams. Sometimes language becomes a limiting factor for bi-communal groups since not everyone speaks English. The management committee that was formed included individuals who spoke Turkish and Greek but not English, which was an added benefit to the group.
Although the management committee is very visible among the local community, there was a conscious attempt, to keep the project in low profile within the national community. Transparency was ensured in the management committee by regular meetings of the management committee.
More information can be found on http://www.konteaheritage.com/en/index.html
Armenian Church and Monastery
This project is another unique example of a cultural heritage preservation project in Cyprus. After the NMP, it is the second longest project among the 5 that has been studied in depth in this report. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it has been facilitated by UNDP-ACT. Thus it provides a unique example of how a project could be facilitated by an international organization when the need is there to bring together different public authorities in working for a common goal.
The project includes the restoration of the Armenian Church and Monastery in the Arabahmet neighborhood. This is a unique project due to the fact that the project team has been the UNDP itself. One TC and one GC consultant were included in the project design from the beginning, and as a good practice it should be noted that the TC and GC antiquities experts as well as Evkaf have been involved in the process as the stakeholders.
The fact that direct communication of these institutions did not take place was listed as a shortcoming of this project and may be due to the direct implementation of the project by the UNDP team. On the other hand, UNDP’s direct implementation of the project may have been the factor that helped overcome the difficulties that may have arose with the direct communication of these departments and thus could be noted as an alternative method of project implementation where political difficulties make the implementation of some projects impossible.
More information can be found by contacting http://www.undp-act.org
The Katokopia/Zümrütköy project has been inspired from the Cultural Heritage Circle Preservation project. The Cultural Heritage Circle Preservation project team has been contacted and the process in the village has been understood by the project team of Katokopia/Zümrütköy. Nevertheless, this project has been listed by many who have been interviewed as a “not a very strong” project.
After the crossings opened, former Katokopia/Zümrütköy residents went over and visited their village. They met with TCs currently residing there, who they found to be friendly and open. The GC former residents then formed the Katokopia Cultural Heritage Company and met again with the TCs with the rationale that something needed to be done in order to prevent the destruction of buildings of cultural heritage in the village.
The participants of the project hence consisted of the Katokopia/Zümrütköy Cultural Heritage Company, a TC Katokopia Athletic Association and the TC president of the local community council.However, if was difficult to reach consensus among partners in the two communities as to what the priorities were. Each community identified their own needs for the restoration process. GCs under the banner of ‘protect cultural heritage’ wanted to focus on projects such as the Orthodox churches, the cemetery and the former school. TCs wanted to focus on projects that addressed the needs of the community (restoration of the cinema, repairs to the aqueducts, pavements).
In terms of the project design, The Katokopia Cultural Heritage Company drafted a plan and gave it to TCs who reviewed and signed it. The plan was then submitted to UNDP for funding. The UNDP did not have the required funds and directed them towards the USAID-funded SAVE programme, which ended up supporting the project in many ways, including the contracting of professionals in the TCC on the behalf of the Katokopia Cultural Heritage Company.
There was not a formal process of identifying stakeholders and the beneficiaries of the project were defined as the current and former local residents.
More information can be found on http://www.save-irg.com/
Plant Micro-Reserves Project
This project is an example of a participatory environmental protection project. When the research was carried out, it has only been implemented in the GCC and thus did not have a bi-communal component. Nevertheless, the TC counterpart who was interviewed explained that a mirror project was implemented in the TCC as well.
The project was initialized as there was a need to preserve some areas and save endemic plants and animals from extinction under the ‘Life+’ framework programme of the European Commission. Four areas were selected as natural preservation areas and with the cooperation of four communities (Asgata, Kampou, Peyas, Mitsero) the project was carried out. This project was the consequence of a smaller, UNDP-ACT-funded pilot project (2007-2009) in the village of Mammari in the buffer zone.
More information can be found on http://www.plantnet.org.cy/plant_micro-reserves.html