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Trouble Case Investigation of a Problem in Nigerien Rural Modernization: Forest Conservation

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Thomson, James T.; Charlick, R.
Book Title: Approaches to the Study of Rural Modernization: Multi-Disciplinary Research in Hausa Speaking Niger
Publisher: University of California Press
Location: Berkeley, CA
Date: 1973
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/73
Sector: Forestry
Region: Africa
Subject(s): Workshop
rural development
Abstract: "This paper assesses the trouble case methodology as a research tool in the study of Nigerien rural modernization processes. As a vehicle to illustrate the methodology, I take the government forest conservation program, a critical if somewhat neglected component of the overall Nigerien rural modernization effort. "The paper comprises three parts: history of the forestry problem and attempts to solve it (sections I and II); theoretical framework, including a public goods analysis of the problem, a model of legal relationships, and a description of the trouble case methodology (sections III-V); and data and conclusions, consisting of forestry trouble cases, estimates of the effectiveness of current attempts to solve the problem and of other possible approaches, and an assessment of the merits of the trouble case methodology in this type of study (sections VI-VIII). "It is argued here that the Nigerian forest, from the viewpoint of most users, is an unregulated common property. In the absence of regulation it will be destroyed, with disastrous consequences for the environment and the local human ecologies. Regulation is thus a necessary condition for Nigeriens to sustain mutually productive relationship with each other concerning their forest resources. But current enforcement procedures, rendered ineffective by corruption and rule manipulation, fail to curb the developing negative dynamic in which users have little incentive to reorganize their demand patterns and no incentive to generate new supplies as existing ones are exhausted. A tragedy is therefore in the making."

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