Sustainable Community-run Development: Experiences from the ADIO Project in Ostional, Costa Rica
In the face of the current global sustainability challenge, seeking out and strengthening sustainable alternative methods for community development has become an urgent task for development professionals and academics. In order to explore one of such alternatives, in this thesis I draw on research conducted with the Associación de Desarollo Integral de Ostional (ADIO). Located on Costa Rica’s rural Pacific coast, ADIO was initiated by the local community of Ostional and resulted in the Project of Sustainable Use, Conservation and Management of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in 1987. Co-managed by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MINAE), ADIO practices conservation and scientifically monitors the management of the Olive Ridley sea turtle species. Surplus eggs from the turtle arribadas (the mass nesting’s of sea turtles) at the optional beach are being legally harvested and marketed by ADIO. This project has successfully contributed to the protection of the Olive Ridley turtle population whilst returning socio-economic benefits into the community. The aim of this research is to gain a better understanding of ADIO’s work and the significance of ADIO to the local community. My research draws on the experiences of community members to identify their perception of the benefits of ADIO to their own community, and unpack areas in need of improvement. Qualitative data were collected from community members through: semi structured interviews, participant observation, a reflective workshop, a questionnaire and field notes. The findings of this research identify key elements for the success of ADIO, and demonstrate the benefit of this Project toward the sustainability of the local community. This research demonstrates that socio-economic benefits can be gained through appropriate community participation in sustainable conservation projects, which can further enhance the desire of the local community to be better stewards of natural resources. This thesis seeks to contribute in some small way to an existing body of knowledge on the topics of sustainability, community-run conservation, and development.