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BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT


To understand the beginnings of the development project now being undertaken by Món-3 in Walata we need to go back to the eighties, when Spanish cooperation embarked on a comprehensive cooperation programme that was to allow the socio-economic and cultural recovery of the city.

With this object, a series of activities were begun in 1983 aimed first at halting the degradation of the cultural heritage of the city of Walata and secondly at finding new ways of bringing about effective agricultural development. This programme continued until in 2001 the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation decided to entrust the Development NGO Món-3 with the Walata Development Project.

Officials at Món-3, advised by experts who travelled to the area, found that the crops that had until then been grown for marketing were not viable on account of the distance between Walata and the nearest market, 116 km away along unmade-up roads. Món-3 re-oriented farming towards self-subsistence crops and crops for local consumption and also diversified it, with the two-fold objective of improving local nutrition and providing an outlet for production. Furthermore, it was found that at that time, as regards the preservation of the cultural heritage, the work of maintenance and reconstruction of the architectural heritage was being neglected and the documentation centre was also suffering from neglect, so that there was a serious risk of deterioration of the manuscripts and the elements of material culture kept there.

In view of this situation, the approach adopted by Món-3 after taking over the socio-economic and cultural rehabilitation project in Walata included the following points::
 
  • Establishment of a strategy for transference of the project to the beneficiaries, for which reason the work was directed at reopening talks with the beneficiaries so as to bring about true awareness of their own ability to manage decisions regarding their future and, in particular, their development strategy. In this respect, there has been support for the setting up of a farming cooperative and for a Citizens' Committee for the Development of Walata so as to guarantee future sustainability.
  • Redirection of priorities in productive activities and organisation of a new strategy for economic promotion involving :Reservation of farming production for self-subsistence and the local market, changing crops, encouraging their diversification and stressing aspects of collective management of production (communal management of irrigation, fruit production, management of storage and fuel supplies, etc.).
  • Priority for the development of a tourist sector based on the appreciation of Walata's cultural and environmental assets, linked to the development of local commercial and artisan activities, allowing the inclusion of Walata in green and cultural tourist routes as an alternative to the model of tourist development linked to foreign companies and based on a folksy exoticism not respecting local cultural assets.
  • Adopting an approach to work in the area based on cultural recovery and replacing the concept of recovering material heritage with that of recovering cultural heritage and treating the different aspects of cultural recovery as a whole.