Lesson 1 Cultivate relationships and watch for windows of opportunity
There is value in investing in relationships, even before specific funding opportunities emerge, and watching for “windows of opportunity.” The team already had a working relationship with the government and fishing communities when the TNRC funding became available. Especially when working on a topic like corruption, starting out from a good relationship can really help set projects up for success.
Lesson 2 Consider everyone’s needs
Maintaining those relationships also takes intentional work. While it is certainly not appropriate for all projects, the WWF Peru team took a collaborative approach (as opposed to more “confrontational” one), and they credit their success to that approach. They presented the baseline results separately with fishers and government officials, creating space to discuss sensitive topics such as the alleged informal payments. They also took careful steps not to alienate their partners. “The term ‘corruption’ can be a bit invasive...we handled it as ‘vulnerabilities,’” the team reflected. “It is important to go as an ally of the government...rather than supervision of its activities, conceive the project from the needs of the administered [the fishers], but also of the authority.”
Lesson 3 It’s ok for progress to be incremental
Finally, one window of opportunity may open others, so maintaining momentum is vital. “When a government institution, fisher organization, or company is interested in collaboration,” the team reflected, “the key for progress is to act quickly and formalize the collaboration so that the interest doesn’t wane or diminish.” The team intentionally represented their work as an “inter-institutional alliance,” the “first pilot of much more together.”
Indeed, TNRC supported two follow-on activities that leverage the success of TrazApp’s pilot. During 2023, the team is expanding TrazApp to an additional part of the supply chain, fish processing plants, who see the app’s potential to help facilitate their compliance with export market requirements. In parallel, the team is doing more work to simplify and make accessible government processes and requirements for other aspects of fisheries management. The goal is to help fishers understand the rules they are supposed to follow, insist on following those rules if someone demands they do something illicit, and access reporting channels for any corruption, crime, or conflict. Stay tuned for further updates, expected in the final quarter of 2023.