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Decentralisation, and Institutional Survival of the Fittest in the Sahel: What Hope for CPRM?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hesse, Ced; Trench, Pippa
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4, 2000
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/123
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
policy analysis
resource management
institutional analysis
Abstract: "The Sahel region is undergoing profound institutional, economic and political changes, which offer many promising opportunities for more effective localised natural resource management. Such promise stems from the growing consensus within the region of the need to clarify rights and responsibilities for managing and benefiting from natural resources by providing a strong focus on: "--a community-based approach, set within the decentralisation process, which acknowledges a new division of responsibilities between central government and local institutions; and "--the need for a broad policy framework at national level which specifies roles and responsibilities, but with a high degree of tailoring of practice to suit diverse local circumstances; "However, although a consensus in approach might be apparent, there remain major challenges ahead to translate policy commitments to decentralised resource management into genuine capacity to do so. "An issue that has emerged from the SOS Sahel/IIED regional action-research programme on the 'Shared management of CPR in the Sahel' is the articulation within and between existing community-based NRM institutions, newly-created locally elected rural councils or communes, government services and traditional leaders. "Much of the work on CPRM has emphasised the importance of homogeneity within the community. The Sahel, however, is characterised by its heterogeneity both within and between communities. This heterogeneity is largely a result of centuries of inward and outward migration in response to both the environment, as in the case of mobile pastoral and fishing communities, and social factors such as slavery in the past and the search for employment and income generating opportunities today. Natural resources throughout the region are used by multiple user groups over time and space. "Many of these different user groups are represented by either long-standing customary institutions (the Alamadiou in Mali) or more recent examples of community organisation (pastoral associations in Niger, the Walde Kelka in Mali). In either case they are special purpose governance units that enjoy considerable legitimacy in the eyes of local communities and provide an important base for local level, effective negotiations over resource access and management. The current political and policy context described above means that such institutions are increasingly enjoying legal recognition by the State, which has considerable implications for their effectiveness. "However, these institutions do not exist in a vacuum. A complex institutional jungle of government services, local traditional leaders and elected councils are all competing for legitimacy and the stakes are high. For example, in Mali, the Alamadiou and Walde Kelka must operate within a context where formal jurisdiction over CPRs lies with the newly created rural communes that lack local legitimacy and credibility. There are also concerns that these communes will be open to political manipulation and abuse. "Decentralisation is thus often creating multiple levels of subsidiarity, which make the potential for CPRM more complex. This paper will present examples from Mali, Niger and Sudan to demonstrate the institutional complexity that accompanies the decentralisation process in relation to issues of subsidiarity, land speculation and centralised interference and the implications for CPRM. "

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