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Managing Social-ecological Change and Uncertainty: Floodplain Agriculture and Conservation in Dryland Northern Cameroon

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Asah, Stanley T.; Nelson, Kristen C.; Bengston, David N.
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 6
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3193
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): change
common pool resources
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "Managing change and uncertainty is important for effective environmental conservation, especially in semi-arid areas. This paper explores farmers' strategies adopted for managing change and uncertainty inherent in social-agricultural interactions in the Logone floodplain of the Lake Chad basin. We do this through ethnographic participant observations, surveys and latent variable modelling. Among four categories of strategies, those adopted to spread risks were shown to negatively impact farmers' efforts to manage change and uncertainty. Risk-spreading strategies relying on social networks, credit, common-pool resources, cultivation of multiple species and varieties, and alternative income-generating activities were seldom ineffective. In part, the ineffectiveness of risk-spreading strategies is explained by the fact that these strategies were subjected to similar human-environment conditions as agriculture. However, development interventions, corruption, democratic reform, re-negotiation of the commons and reluctance to seize risk-spreading opportunities have undesirable consequences for agro-ecological risk manage-ment. We discuss local potential and the role of external agents in enhancing management of change and uncertainty."

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