Local Organizations, Common Property Land Resources and Rural Poor: A Comparative Analysis

"Common Property Land Resources (CPLRs) in India, which are vital for rural economy and ecology, are fast deteriorating both in size and quality. Social forestry and related programs have been initiated to regenerate these resources on a sustainable basis and to meet the basic needs (fuel, food, and fodder) of rural people, particularly the poor. A number of local government and non-government organizations are involved in these programs to ensure people's participation for effective management and equitable distribution of the resources. In this context, the paper analyzes the governance of CPLRs under two different types of local organizations: Government-engineered organizations and voluntary (people's) organizations. The main objective of this paper is to identify relative advantages and weaknesses of these organizations for alternative policy perspectives, as well as to test the existing theories of bureaucratic and community organizations in the management of common-pool resources. It mainly focuses on two inter-related issues -- people's participation in the formulation of rules for the management and utilization of CPLRs and the enforcement of such rules for their equitable distribution. Drawing on observations from a recently concluded field study in an Indian state (Orissa), the paper argues that although local voluntary organizations can assist in the management of such resources, too much emphasis on them can prove to be counterproductive in the long run. It then goes on to suggest a form of partnership between the government and the local voluntary organization for the effective administration of these resources."
social forestry, land tenure and use, common pool resources, collective action, rural development, poverty, participatory management, IASC