This periodic working paper series presents new research on democratic decentralization and legislative representation concerning the management, control, and use of natural resources. The objective is to provide researches working at the intersection fo governance and natural resource management with a forum in which to present their findings and receive feedback from scholars and practitioners around the world. Send your comments to Arisha Ashraf, to the authors (see contact information at the end of each working paper), or posted as a comment at the bottom of this page.
The cover image of the 2008 working papers was rendered by Mo Gueye, an internationally renowned Senegalese artist. The reverse glass technique, where he paints on one side of a glass pane to be viewed from the opposite side, is popular in urban Senegal. The reverse glass paintings on the cover were photographed by Pierre Khoury, the art photographer of the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
WP 38: Steering Community Driven Development? A Desk Study of NRM Choices
Jesse Ribot, Robin Mearns
Community Driven Development (CDD) is among the fastest-growing development assistance mechanisms of the World Bank. Under CDD programs, the World Bank lent over $5.6 billion during fiscal years 2000-2002, and this figure is expected to grow significantly. Estimates considered conservative by the CDD Anchor are that CDD investments will grow to $2 billion per year in 2003.
While the term CDD is very recent, first appearing in Narayan and Ebbe, CDD follows a long tradition of community-oriented and participatory approaches to development. CDD is described as representing a shift in World Bank approaches from an emphasis on consultation to a focus on empowerment. Given the importance of CDD in the rural development investment landscape, this review examines CDD practice to better understand its potential effects on local representation and participation in natural resource management.
This report examines how communities are “driving” or participating in development decisions in CDD projects and what factors shape their subproject3 choices. In particular, it explores how natural resource investments figure in community decisions and how the project approach structures or influences such decisions.
WP 37: Analyse du filiere Charbon du Bois au Senegal: Recommandations
WP 36: Non-décentralisation démocratique au Sénégal: Le non-transfert de l’autorité sur les forêts
WP 36: Authority over Forests: Negotiating Democratic Decentralization in Senegal
Senegal’s 1998 forestry code transfers powers over forests to elected Rural Councils, ostensibly giving the elected authorities material powers vis-à-vis which they can represent the rural population. But, like other line ministries, the Forest Service is unwilling to devolve powers in practice. Justifying themselves with arguments of national good and local incompetence, foresters use pressure, bribes and threats while taking advantage of the inability of rural populations to access and influence courts and actors higher up in government. The foresters stand next to forest merchants and are supported by the sub prefect, while continuing to allocate access to lucrative commercial forest resources to the merchants. Without powers the rural councilors remain marginal, rural populations remain destitute. The sectors remain a last frontier of decolonization.
WP 35: Institutional Choice and Recognition in the Formation and Consolidation of Local Democracy
Ashwini Chhatre, Tomila V. Lankina
What are the democracy effects of ‘decentralization’ reforms and projects? Most developing countries have launched decentralization reforms for the purpose of improving service delivery, local development and management. In these reforms and projects, however, governments, international development agencies and large non-governmental organizations are transferring power to a wide range of local institutions, including private bodies, customary authorities and NGOs. Recognition of these other local institutions means that fledgling local governments are receiving few public powers and face competition for legitimacy. Under what conditions is the new plurality of approaches and local interlocutors fostering local democratic consolidation or resulting in fragmented forms of authority and belonging? Drawing on case studies in Benin, Brazil, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Russia, and South Africa, this working paper explores the effects of institutional choices and recognition by governments, international development agencies and large non-governmental organizations on three dimensions of democracy: 1) representation, 2) citizenship, and 3) the public domain. This Working Paper outlines an approach to the politics of choice and recognition while drawing out findings from Working Papers 23 and 26 through 34 in this working paper series.
WP 34: Institutional Choices in the Shadow of History: Decentralization in Indonesia
The Indonesian state historically established patrimonial ties with relatively homogenous local elites, using them to make rural life accessible and identifiable for the center. As rural life has been reorganized in functional and territorial terms, patrimonial ties have been preserved as the primary means of extracting communal resources for state formation. The political structure was characterized by a dualism that perpetuated ambiguous boundaries between state actors and social forces at the expense of the population. The same logic of state formation can be observed in the current neoliberal efforts at democratic decentralization in developing countries. For the sake of bureaucratic efficiency and political stability, donors, international aid agencies, and local governments transfer power and resources to local institutions—private bodies, customary authorities, and civil-society organizations. In so doing they reinforce the self-perpetuating structure of dualism put in place in during intensified state formation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing on history and ethnography in the Priangan highland of West Java, Indonesia, this article shows how the implementation of democratic decentralization articulates with the preexisting structure of institutions and ideas, undermining rather than promoting government accountability and popular participation.
WP 33: State Building and Local Democracy in Benin: Two Cases of Decentralized Forest Management
Beyond local development, the political agenda of decentralization in West Africa was the restoration of State legitimacy and power, and some enhancement of local democracy. The mix of local institutions created in preceding participatory development projects resulted in fragmented forms of authority. Elsewhere, local communities have developed their own institutions for managing local affairs. How, in such a context, do elected local governments wield power, recognize other authorities and contribute to restoration of national State legitimacy? The Lokoly forest in Benin was never subject to state intervention. The Toui-Kilibo forest, however, has been a protected State forest since 1940 and site of participatory forest management projects since early 1990s. In both cases, the public domain has been enclosed and local government legitimacy over forest resource management contested, hampering the formation of so-called democratic local government. The article compares these two cases, elaborating on social actors’ strategies in the symbolic construction and channelling of power, and on the challenges local governments face when attempting to wield legitimate authority over public spaces and articulate local politics to national State building.
WP 32: Party Politics, Social Movements and Local Democracy: Institutional Choices in the Brazilian Amazon
In the Brazilian Amazon, central government and international donors have chosen to empower civil society to carry out environment and development projects, while neglecting democratically elected municipal governments. This article explores the rationale behind these choices, as well as their impacts on democratic decentralization. The article shows that the central government distrusts local governments because they can be easily captured by opposition economic elites. Further, central bureaucrats can hold civil-society organizations accountable to them and by doing so they retain their prerogatives while extending their territorial coverage. In the development and conservation areas, central bureaucrats and NGO leaders share a common organizational/cultural identity that facilitates collaboration. Further, social movements, grass-roots organizations, and local NGOs are closely associated with the ruling party (PT). Financial support comes in exchange for political support. Although in the past this close relationship between civil society organizations and the PT helped strengthen democracy in Brazil, the current government-NGO alliance runs in the opposite direction by reinforcing centralization and fomenting neo-corporatist/clientelist practices.
WP 31: Engendering Exclusion in Senegal’s Democratic Decentralization
Men and women have different relationships with institutions—international organizations, central and local governments, and traditional authorities—and differential access to resources. In environmental project design and implementation, these differences and power relations are overlooked, however. While the strategies of intervening agencies ostensibly use community participation in natural resource management, such approaches are insufficient for ensuring gender equity. A host of other entrenched locality-specific practices shape gender distribution of voice and material benefits that participatory approaches alone fail to change. This paper demonstrates how the use of village committees to manage natural resources in the Malidino reserve was inconsistent with democratic decentralization principles and its emancipatory objectives. Ostensibly participatory projects that create village committees bestow discretionary power on traditional leaders who are not popularly accountable and have a poor track record of serving women’s needs. This paper interrogates how participatory approaches used in the Malidino Reserve shaped the gender distribution of outcomes in decision processes, access to forest resources and land, incomes and economic activities, biodiversity conservation, and in rural community empowerment and social change. Committees constituted by appointment and co-optation of key decision makers are un-democratic. In them, Forest-Service selected leaders are endowed with discretionary power despite lacking popular accountability and having a poor record of serving women’s needs. Further, the Forest Service and World Bank’s participatory approaches, while formally not gender-neutral, fail in practice to advance gender equity and equality in activities related to the reserve.
WP 30: ‘Fragmented Belonging’ on Russia’s Western Frontier and Local Government Development in Karelia
Karelia is a forestry-rich region on Russia’s Northwestern frontier. This article shows how institutional arrangements for local government were a product of contending efforts of Western donors and other transnational actors, the federal and regional governments, as well as municipalities. Russia’s federal recentralizing reforms and broader authoritarian context notwithstanding, Karelia illustrates how the choice of local institutions, as well as ideas about representation and citizenship are increasingly shaped by actors beyond the central state. Borrowing insights from Joel Migdal and Jesse Ribot, it argues that the result is shifting cognitive boundaries and ‘fragmented belonging’ (Ribot 2007) or multiple reference points of local citizens in a dynamic process of contestation and re-contestation of citizenship.
WP 29: Undermining Grassland Management through Centralized Environmental Politics in Inner Mongolia
China’s government is trying to protect grasslands from desertification. The government first ‘contracted out’ pasture land to individual herding households because it believes private ownership provides incentives for households to protect their pasture holdings. Pasture contracting out, however, did not solve the problem. Faced with continuing serious desertification the government responded with new environment policies and more-direct intervention—with additional funding to strengthen centralized government’ policy implementation and enforcement capacity. These new policies have also failed to stop grassland degradation. This paper, based on a case study in an agro-herding area in Inner Mongolia, China, shows how and why the pasture contracting system and subsequent centralized environmental protection policies failed to enhance conservation. The policy of pasture contracting out damaged the existing local administrative practices of common grassland management, while grassland protection policies undermined local management capacity.
WP 28: Dilemmas of Democratic Decentralization in Mangochi District, Malawi: Interest and Mistrust in Fisheries Management
This paper explores the politics of local representation and belonging during the devolution of authority for fisheries management decentralization in Mangochi District, Malawi. To establish ‘participatory’ fisheries management, in 1993 Malawi’s Fisheries Department established democratically elected Beach Village Committees (BVCs) with village headmen as ex officio members. But, the struggle between elected BVC members and traditional authorities over benefits from fisheries undermined the authority of elected members. Legal ambiguity as to whether the appointed or elected elements of the BVC should make decisions facilitated the takeover by some headmen. In addition, because the BVC was elected by universal suffrage, the members reflected the population as a whole—not just fisher interests whom these elected committees were designed to control. Being stacked against the fishing communities, these ‘vested’ interests resisted BVC activities—further hampering their effectiveness. Ironically, reflecting and being accountable to the population as a whole undermined the effectiveness of these elected BVCs. In 1998, a broader decentralization reform placed ‘community inclusion’ in fisheries management under Village Development Committees (VDCs), whose members would be appointed by elected District Assemblies. The proposed establishment of VDCs unleashed a struggle over how to arrange BVCs-VDCs relation. But, due to lack of a shared vision for decentralization and a shared mistrust of local democracy, higher-level battles for authority and relevance among government, politicians and traditional authorities have brought the decentralization process to a halt. In addition, donors supporting these reforms, who also mistrust the new democratic institutions created under decentralization, have an inadequate appreciation of the political complexities involved. The institutions chosen and recognized by government under donor pressure are the site of political struggles in which representation, belonging and downward accountability are losing ground.
WP 27: Indigenous Peoples, Representation and Citizenship in Guatemalan Forestry
Anne M. Larson
Forestry decision-making is still largely centralized in Guatemala. Nevertheless, elected municipal* governments can now play a key role in local forest management. These local governments, with some exceptions, are the principal local institutions empowered to participate in natural resource authority. Some theorists argue that such elected local authorities are the most likely to be representative and downwardly accountable. But, do these political institutions have the ability to represent the interests of minority and historically excluded or oppressed groups? Latin American indigenous movements are fighting for new conceptions of democracy and practices of representation that recognize collective rights and respect for customary law and authority. How does this approach compare with elected local government? This paper compares how elected municipal governments versus traditional indigenous authorities represent the interests of indigenous communities in forest management. It traces the historical context of relations between indigenous people and the state in the region, and then presents the findings from case studies in two Guatemalan municipalities. The paper finds that both authorities have some strengths as well as important weaknesses, thus supporting arguments for the conscious reinvention of both liberal democracy and tradition in the interest of inclusive citizenship.
*In Latin America, municipal governments include the urban area as well as the surrounding rural area.
WP 26: Enclosing the Local for the Global Commons: Community Land Rights in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area
Marja Spierenburg, Conrad Steenkamp, Harry Wels
The Great Limpopo is one of the largest TransFrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) in the world, encompassing vast areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. By arguing that residents living in or close to the TFCA will participate in its management and benefit economically, TFCA proponents claim social legitimacy for the project. The establishment of the Great Limpopo required negotiations among the three nation states, different government departments within these states, and various donors contributing funds. This paper explores how these negotiations and interactions affected the institutional choices made with regards to the management of the Great Limpopo and how these shaped the control and benefits of local residents. This paper examines the differences among the different actors in terms of power and capacities, which are often ignored in the promotion of TFCAs. By comparing the experiences of local residents in the South African part of the TFCA with those in Mozambique the cases show how international negotiations interact with national policies of decentralization to shape and sometimes even disable local government institutions.
WP 25: Representation, Equity, and Environment
El Hadji Dialigué Bâ
WP 24: Institutional Choice and Recognition
Bradley L. Kinder, Nathaniel Gerhart and Anjali Bhat
Institutional Choice and Recognition: Effects on the Formation and Consolidation of Local Democracy, Minutes of a Comparative Policy Research Workshop. Rapporteurs: Bradley L. Kinder, Nathaniel Gerhart, and Anjali Bhat. December 2006.
WP 23: Accountability in Decentralization and the Democratic Context: Theory and Evidence from India
New institutions created through decentralization policies around the world, notwithstanding the rhetoric, are often lacking in substantive democratic content. New policies for decentralized natural resource management have transferred powers to a range of local authorities, including private associations, customary authorities, and NGOs. Scholars see such transfers as detrimental to the legitimacy of local democratic institutions, leading to a fragmentation of local authority and dampening prospects for democratic consolidation. In much of this critique, however, there is limited attention to the wider democratic context (or lack thereof) and its effect on local governments. This article develops the concept of political articulation to characterize the relationship between citizens and elected representatives, and argues that accountability in decentralization cannot be conceptualized or analyzed separately from the accountability of higher institutions of representation and governance. The empirical analysis of the paper uses the experience of World Bank-funded Ecodevelopment Project in Himachal Pradesh, India, to generate insights into the role of political articulation in analyzing decentralization reforms.
WP 22: Green and Black Gold in Rural Cameroon: Natural Resources for Local Governance, Justice and Sustainability
Phil Rene Oyono, Anne M. Larson
Cameroon has made bold forestry policy reforms over the last decade. Among the many aspects of these reforms, forest management decentralization is the most radical and promising. Cameroon’s forest decentralization policy is predicated on the expectation that the transfer of management responsibilities and benefits to local communities will lead to social justice, positive socioeconomic change, and environmental sustainability. This report presents the results of research on forest management decentralization and local governance conducted in southern Cameroon in 2003 and 2004. The forest sector provides insights into the decentralization process writ large, since, as a source of national wealth, “green gold,” and of local subsistence, it is of great interest to central and local actors—engaging both in the process of reform. The study also investigated the effects on local governance of oil compensation, or “black gold,” in forested rural areas affected by the Chad-Cameroon pipeline. The case studies explore two key questions. How is the decentralization of forest or financial management affecting local governance in forest-based communities? What are the outcomes in terms of local democracy, justice, social transformation, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability?
WP 22: Or Vert et Or Noir dans le Cameroun Rural
Jesse Ribot, Phil René Oyono, Anne M. Larson
WP 21: Décentralisation sans représentation: Le charbon de bois entre les collectivités locales et l’État
Ahmadou M. Kanté
WP 20: Decentralisation, pluralisme institutionnel et democratie
WP 19: Le quota est mort, vive le quota! Ou les vicissitudes de la reglementation de l’exploitation de bois au Senegal
El Hadji Dialigué
WP 18: Environmental Governance in Africa
Conference on Decentralization and the Environment (Bellagio, Italy; 18-22 February 2002): Minutes. Rapporteur: Mehr Latif. June 2002.
WP 17: Legal Framework for Participatory Natural Resources Management: Privileges or Rights in Mozambique?
Alda I. A. Salomão
Examines the legal, political, and economic context in which major institutional changes in post-colonial sub-Saharan African states were undertaken.
WP 16: Historical and Political Foundations for Participatory Management and Democratic Decentralization in Mali
Dr. Bréhima Kassibo
This study examines the legal, political, and economic context in which major institutional changes in post-colonial sub-Saharan African states were undertaken. It also explores the relationship between political changes and changes in the philosophies of those in control of the State through various periods of Malian history. This work establishes direct links between the concepts of liberal democracy, the decentralization of environmental management, and democratic participation. It provides a definition of democratic decentralization as the institutional expression of the participatory approach, and takes measure of the powers transferred by the central State to local institutions and of accountability in the arena of natural resources management. The report analyzes the workings of the participatory approach as the basis for institutional arrangements. Specifically, it examines two sites in the Mopti region, one focusing on forestry and the other on herding; the analysis explores the allocation of power to key players in the natural resources domain and identifies the institutional arrangements that determine how those powers are used. It is clear from the study that the State retains the dominant role in environmental management in spite of the legislative innovations of Mali’s Third Republic, which are designed to encourage broad popular participation but remain inoperative due to implementation failures.
WP 15: Institutional deficit, representation, and decentralized forest management in Cameroon
Phil Rene Oyono
Conducted in the East, South, and Northwest Provinces of Cameroon, this study aims to provide an explanation and understanding of the organizational and institutional infrastructure of decentralized management of Cameroon’s forest—also referred to as “local forest management”—and the mechanisms of the transfer of powers and responsibilities to decentralized entities. The study also questions the ecological and socio-economic results of these processes. It shows that in Cameroon’s forestry domain, the institutional arrangements necessary for local management of common pool resources are either nonexistent or insufficient, hence the notion of “deficit.” Under such conditions, the higher objectives of local management and forest governance are largely bastardized by a profusion of interests that determine the heterogeneous strategies of manipulation and appropriation of forestry income in Cameroon.
The study demonstrates that the Cameroonian model of decentralization of forest management is, in the end, an interrupted process, blocked mid-way to fruition by forces on the regional level (mid-level actors) and by a village elite. The findings give rise to a theory of deviation and of a pattern of regional “capture” of forestry localism and decentralized management. The central State, having failed to establish regulation mechanisms and an approach to monitor the process in all its length seems to have been caught short, leaving decentralization in the hands of networks and mid-level actors whose primary interest is financial gain. This shift permits the diversion of forest governance and the setup of legal “gangsterism” in a field where corruption and abuse of power was already deeply entrenched.
WP 14: Local Governance, Power and Natural Resources: Perspectives From Rural South Africa’s Former Bantustans
This paper focuses on the institutional arrangements that have been put in place to give effect to decentralization and its impact on natural resource management in the rural areas of Transkei region of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. In particular, the paper pays attention to the local actors who hold powers over natural resources, the kinds of powers they hold, the degree of community participation and accountability relations and mechanisms of accountability to which these actors are subject.
For purposes of this paper, the “natural resource” management issue is investigated primarily through a focus on land issues. Within this context, the role of traditional authorities (chiefs of various ranks) is assessed. The focus on land illuminates problems that are on the horizon for other natural resources, such as forests, wildlife and fisheries, because these latter resources are to be managed through similar structures to those being constructed and contested in the land policy area.
WP 13: Constructing Subsidiarity, Consolidating Hegemony: Political Economy and Agro-Ecological Processes in Ghanaian Forestry
Despite proliferating claims that Ghanaian forestry is collaborative and community-based, most powers over forestry remain concentrated in an unrepresentative and unaccountable centralized forestry administration. In ways that presage current negotiations over the principle of subsidiarity, various regimes in Ghana throughout the twentieth century have, when challenged, misconstrued agro-ecological processes in order to justify centralized and violent control that, although conducted in the name of the public good, allowed forest resources to be appropriated by select state agents, traditional authorities, and domestic and international firms. Recommendations are given to help pry the concept of subsidiarity away from abuse by hegemonic elites: participatory empirical studies of forest agroecologies and management, and inclusive processes of formulating and interpreting policies and laws.
WP 12: Decentralization Viewed from Inside: The Implementation of Community Forests in East Cameroon
Cameroon’s 1994 Forestry Law launched a new approach to natural resource management. The 1996 Constitution introduced decentralized authorities, whose role is to enable the economic, social and cultural development of its peoples. Though the implementing texts (the regulatory laws) for this decentralization reform are still forthcoming, the new legal framework for environmental policy and the overhaul of the Constitution demonstrate the Government’s will to decentralize and to improve forest resources management. At the same time, decentralized management might be inappropriate in Cameroon, as it may be too foreign a way of thinking for the forest dwellers. This study examines the community forests of East Cameroon (Upper Nyong region, Messamena and Lomié counties) to analyze factors that have not yet been fully taken into account in the current process of community forests establishment. These include exorbitant technical, financial and human costs; the ambiguous role of some international and local NGOs; the virtual, rather than substantial, Common Initiative Groups (CIGs) and Associations; and the disregard for traditional law, despite its legal primacy in African States. The interest in decentralization and forest management, also tied to the “development” of forest populations, has lead to a web of misunderstandings. These findings suggest the question: are community forests the best alternative for decentralized management in East Cameroon?
WP 11: Allocation of Government Authority and Responsibility in Tiered Governance Systems: Environment-Related Laws in Zimbabwe
Alois Mandondo and Everisto Mapedza
Based on an analysis of relevant legislation, this study reviews the political economy of the allocation of powers over natural resource management between the Zimbabwean State, rural district councils and local communities. The allocations are critically examined in relation to citizen empowerment. An analytical toolkit, derived from a review of relevant literature, is provided for holistically scrutinizing the extent and operation of accountability between and within decentralized governance units and other units above and below them. These theoretical tools are then used to argue that, contrary to establishing the institutional infrastructure for decentralized natural resource management in Zimbabwe, most legislation re-centralizes power at the district level, doing so at the expense of meaningful citizen participation in natural resource governance. Only the “privilege” of initiating development plans appears to have trickled down to the grassroots level. The state and its closest actors still retain the complementary roles of approval, implementation, and fiscal control. The study concludes by considering ways of addressing the contradiction between the decentralization which the state claims to have achieved and the re-concentration of power at the district level which is actually taking place, assessing the scope for both incremental and radical approaches.
WP 10: The Decentralized Forestry Taxation System in Cameroon: Local Management and State Logic
Patrice Bigombe Logo
The study examines the changes in the local management of forestry revenue in South and East Cameroon resulting from the decentralized forestry taxation system introduced in 1994 and their political, socio-economic and ecological impact at the local level. The 1994 forestry reforms introduced new procedures for the access and local management of forestry revenue. Unfortunately, the decentralization process implemented in this context is authoritarian decentralization. Imposed from above and ignoring the real needs and expectations of the local communities, it retains many of the powers of the central State directly and through the rural councils and forestry fees management committees. It represents predatory and neo-paternalistic alliances between the central State, the decentralized bodies and the forestry fees management committees, and between the authorities of the central State, the local administration and local political figures. Efficient and transparent management of forestry revenue can only be guaranteed in a dynamic of democratic decentralization, in which powers over the local management of forestry revenue are devolved to local institutions and actors who are accountable to the local populations for the exercise of those powers. The study demonstrates the need to see the decentralization of forest management in general, and the local management of forestry revenue in particular, as part of the overall framework of political and administrative decentralization in Cameroon.
WP 09: Devolving Rights or Shedding Responsibility? Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Agrippinah Namara and Xavier Nsabagasani
In Uganda, community participation under community conservation and collaborative management does not adequately and effectively translate into community empowerment and control over resources, especially concerning decision making. First, the local community institutions formed to realize community participation cannot effectively serve community interests because they do not control resources and have no powers to decide on critical problems affecting their community. Most of the necessary powers and resources are still largely in the hands of the central authorities and supporting agencies. Second, community institutions are operating within an already defined legal and policy framework – a framework formulated with insufficient community and Local Government input. Third, the principles upon which collaborative management is based were not developed out of mutual agreement between the communities and the other partners. National and international conservation and tourism interests, as advanced here by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the donor-funded agencies respectively, still override the interests of the local people who bear the biggest share of the costs associated with the park.
We conclude that two conditions must be met for local government and community participation in the management of nationally and internationally significant resources. One, the level of responsibilities that local populations are assigned should not surpass the fiscal and decisionmaking powers they acquire or the quality of benefits that they gain in the process. Two, the issue of readiness, willingness and capacity of local government to assume responsibility for conservation of environment has been over assumed by the central government. Local government interests lie mainly in activities that generate revenue and enhance human rights and benefits, not environmental conservation for ecological, aesthetic and other non-consumptive values.
WP 08: Environmental Decentralization and the Management of Forest Resources in Masindi District, Uganda
Frank Emmanuel Muhereza
This study critically explores the decentralizing of forest management powers in Uganda in order to determine the extent to which significant discretionary powers have shifted to popularly elected and downwardly accountable local governments. Effective political or democratic decentralization depends on the transfer of local discretionary powers. However, in common with other states in Africa undergoing various types of “decentralization” reforms, state interests are of supreme importance in understanding forest-management reforms. The analysis centers on the transfer of powers to manage forests in Masindi District, an area rich in natural wealth located in western Uganda. The decentralization reforms in Masindi returns forests to unelected traditional authorities, as well as privatizes limited powers to manage forest resources to licensed user-groups.
The experience of decentralization in Uganda’s forestry sector is highly uneven. Ultimately, the state retained significant forest management powers, while selectively transferring limited powers to district and sub-county councils. Over time, powers shifted downwards and upwards, with the Forest Department regaining control of the coveted and larger central forest reserves in 1998. The unsteady progression of decentralization reforms in Uganda reflects the unwillingness of the central government to transfer significant discretionary powers over the management and use of forest reserves to the representative district and sub-county councils.
WP 07: Decentralization, Politics, and Environment in Uganda
The devolution of decision-making powers over natural resources to publicly accountable local authorities is frequently advocated as a means of achieving social development and enhancing environmental management. The experience of Uganda’s current decentralization reforms, however, suggests that the extent to which such benefits occur depends on the character of the decentralization. Uganda’s decentralization is renowned internationally for its local origins, participatory character and political commitment. However, an analysis of the reforms from an environmental perspective indicates three major problem areas.
(1) There has not been an effective or consistent devolution of powers over natural resource management. In the case of forestry, for example, powers have been decentralized and re-centralized several times since the reforms began in 1993. The reason for this is that decentralization has been used primarily to resolve the government’s financial and legitimacy problems, rather than as a means of achieving either public participation per se or improved environmental management.
(2) Local governments have failed to exercise the limited powers they do have, since control over the necessary financial and human resources have remained centralized. Case studies of three districts – Mukono, Mbale and Masindi – reveal that they have only been able to exercise such powers when donor assistance has been available.
(3) When local governments have attempted to influence environmental matters, the social and environmental outcomes have not always been positive, due to conflicts of interest among the actors involved in natural resource utilization at the local level.
The study suggests that there is a need for the central government to devolve effective environmental powers to local governments, for local governments to increase their revenue raising capacity in order to achieve greater financial autonomy, and for the introduction of checks and balances to prevent the misuse of powers to achieve personal gain.
WP 06: Concessionary Politics in the Western Congo Basin: History and Culture in Forest Use
Hardly new, the breaking of forests into mosaics of territorial control has been happening since the early days of European expansion. Protected areas were, in many cases, an extension of the concession system for the use and management of natural resources. This historical and ethnographic investigation of concessionary politics points to a gap in social science literature about environmental conservation; little has been written about the role of capital – not merely state and community – in power-suffused social relations of resource use within and around protected areas. Concessionary politics are not merely crafted through state policies, and imposed from the top down. Rather, forest residents, have, over time, developed abilities to defy and define the limits of state power. They thus participate, with a range of outsiders, in creating and re-creating concessionary politics. In so doing, they may unwittingly further their own alienation from formal control over the natural resources on which they depend, as concessionary politics also constrains their options for development and political process.
Specifically, concessionary politics precludes truly representative, or at least recognizably political, processes for maintaining ecological diversity based on, rather than despite, increasingly cosmopolitan forest communities. Today, concessionary politics relies increasingly on “participatory” mechanisms for dialogue between residents and their powerful “patrons,” whether businesspeople or conservationists. It produces mosaics of resource management in which competition by outsiders creates revenues for financially impoverished communities and nation states. But it also connects competition for control of species-rich areas with politically charged struggles over mineral wealth, timber, and other commodities. This exacerbates, rather than limiting, both tensions between concerned parties, and pressure on specific resource bases.
This study uses a review and case study approach to critically examine the contradictions and ambiguities of “peasant empowerment” in a co-management venture between Zimbabwean foresters and peasant communities. The institutional infrastructure for comanagement was derived from and superimposed upon a complex web of local power bases, further fragmenting existing networks of interest, affection and association, and thus limiting the scope for co-management. The legislative environment, at least during the pre-2000 period, supported the expropriation and control of the land and resources of peasant communities, thus contradicting the underlying principle of co-management, which is that of equal partnership. Powers over natural resources have remained centralized in the national state; the little power that has been decentralized has been transferred to levels that are not close enough to the citizens. Furthermore, there is no legislation that gives a legal mandate and fiscal autonomy to units closer to the citizens than the district level. The co-management venture is “supply-led” rather than “demand driven”, originating in international development assistance circles, and implemented on the terms and conditions of their allies in the state bureaucracies responsible for natural resource management.
In spite of their marginalization, peasant communities have a wide repertoire of tools, which enable them to significantly penetrate local and national political processes. The study identifies the need for fundamental changes in the co-management system, including the creation of downwardly accountable institutions and experimentation with new co-management relations. It argues that such changes require related reversals in the ways that researchers, policy-makers, civil society organizations and other facilitators have traditionally conducted their business.
WP 04: Whose Elephants Are They? Decentralization of Control Over Wildlife Management in Binga District, Zimbabwe
This case study examines the impact of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s first attempts to decentralize control over wildlife management: Zimbabwe’s much publicized Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) program. The objective of the study is to determine the nature and extent of CAMPFIRE’s impact on local institutions and the welfare of local communities, and in particular to see whether it has succeeded in giving local people effective control over wildlife resources. The study focuses on Binga District, an area in which wildlife are abundant and CAMPFIRE plays a particularly important role. The findings are derived largely from the author’s own experience living and working in Binga.
WP 03: Partitioned Nature, Privileged Knowledge: Community Based Conservation in the Maasai Ecosystem, Tanzania
Despite the rhetoric of devolution and community participation, conservation planning in Tanzania remains a top-down endeavor; communities and the knowledge claims of local people remain delegated to the margins. This is shown by analyzing the context of the new government policy document, planning papers, and subsequent policy, legal and academic debates regarding the building of a new community based conservation (CBC) in Tanzania. The author suggests that in addition to the difficulties associated with the transfer of power from state to community hands, there are also complex challenges that CBC pose to the culture or institution of conservation. The intended (and at times unintended) landscapes of conservation are crafted for legibility, manageability and foreign scientific expertise, leaving little room for the inclusion of “indigenous” or “local” knowledge claims. The second half of the paper addresses how the challenges posed by an inclusive and participatory CBC, as discussed in the first half, are particularly salient in the Maasai ecosystem, in Northern Tanzania. Here, many of the consequences or “constellations” of unsuccessful conservation projects further challenge the implementation of CBC initiatives. The author discusses the need to address these challenges and engage Maasai as active knowing agents in the conservation process, the result of which may better match the political rhetoric and social and ecological goals of CBC.
WP 02: Breathing Life Into Fundamental Principles: Implementing constitutional environmental protections in Africa
Carl Bruch, Wole Coker, Chris VanArsdale
Constitutional provisions offer broad and powerful tools for ptoecting the environment, but to date these tools have gone largely unutilized in Africa. Practically all African constitutions include substantive provisions that ensure either a “right to a healthy environment” or a “right to life,” which often is held to iply a right to a healthy environent in which to live that life. Additionally, the process of opening courts to citizens to enforce their constitutional rights strengthens the judiciary, empowers civil society, and fosters and atmosphere of environmental accountability. This article explores how African constitutional provisions can be utilized to create real and enforceable environmental rights. African countries have common law, civil law, and Islamic legal traditions, as well as soe hybrid systems. Nevertheless, these legal systems share many comon underlying principles and values, particularly regarding the fundaental human rights embodied in their respective constitutions. This article highlights relevant provisions fro the constitutions of 53 African countries – provisions that may be used to protect the environment – as well as cases fro around the world that illustrate opportunities for implementing constitutional environmental rights. Additionally, given the constitutional reform processes currently underway in various African countires – such as Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC and formerly Zaire) – this article examines the opportunities that such provisions present for improving environmental governance.
WP 01: Analyzing Decentralization: A framework with South Asian and West African environmental cases
Jesse Ribot, Arun Agrawal
Since the early 1980s, decentralization has reemerged as a valued political and economic goal in most developing countries. Institutional economics and public-choice literature indicate that decentralization has the potential to achieve greater efficiency and equity in public decision making by internalizing externalities, deploying all available information, and better matching service provision to needs. In this paper, the authors suggest that representation and accountability are critical if devolved powers are to serve local needs efficiently and equitably. The authors conclude, analyzing four case studies, that the presumed benefits of decentralization become available to local populations only when empowered local actors are downwardly accountable. Actors, powers, and accountability emerge as essential elements of a framework that can help evaluate the effectiveness of decentralization.