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Safeguarding the Commons: Conflicts over Natural Resource Use and Poverty Alleviation Strategies in Rural Tanzania

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Madulu, Ndalahwa F.
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1907
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Wildlife
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
conflict
protected areas--case studies
mining
land tenure and use
wildlife
parks
Abstract: "This paper discusses the impacts of conflicts emanating from competing natural resource use and poverty eradication strategies around protected and mining areas in Tanzania. Case studies of various protected areas are used to demonstrate the nature and extent of conflicts emerging from changing demographic conditions, land use competition and globalisation pressures. Such conflicts often occur at the expense of the commons. In many protected and mining areas, local communities efforts to minimize poverty levels are frustrated by globalisation influences and state's interests which favour large-scale operators, mostly foreigners. There is an increasing fear of losing their land without equitable compensation. As a result, small-scale farmers among the commons are forced into unsustainable decisions of either selling mining plots to small-scale miners or do the mining themselves. Such pressures magnify the extent of conflicts over resource use. Expansion of mining in farmlands, for example, increases environmental destruction risks, especially in areas that are already vulnerable. The long-term implications include accelerated food insecurity, generation of a landless class, increased poverty, and rapid environmental degradation. Land use conflicts around protected areas are demonstrated through encroachment of farming communities, bush fires, excessive tree felling, and poaching. Most of these negative practices are a function of ignoring the commons interests and needs to most of the save the interest of state and globalisation. Experiences from the game controlled areas around Serengeti National Park demonstrate that local communities can effectively participate in protecting wildlife and forestry only when they are given proper recognition and ensured of benefit sharing. Examples are given in this paper to support the concept of 'community conservation' and 'partnership forest management' in natural resource management. The main issue here is whether the conflicting interests between the state and the commons on the one hand, and the state and globalisation pressures on the other, can be harmonized. This necessitates serious involvement of the commons in decision-making processes especially on issues that directly affects their welfare. The paper concludes by calling for a dialogue that could trigger the process of strategy development to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders including the commons. In all respects, the commons interests need to be put in the forefront in instituting conservation measures and large-scale natural resource exploitation programmes. Local communities need to be considered as equal partners who have a stake in the planning, management and benefit sharing."

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