'No Capital Needed': Defacto Open Access to Common Pool Resources, Poverty and Conservation in the Kaufe Flats, Zambia

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"This article makes the point that poverty and conservation issues are centrally linked with access rights to common pool resources. The case of the Kafue Flats illustrates how local groups are rendered poor and vulnerable because of the changed situation of common pool resources, which used to be managed by customary common property institutions. As the Zambian state took control of these resources under conservation agencies and dismantled the customary use rules, the common pool resources became 'open access' because the state was too poor to manage them as it wanted. This coincided with a large increase in the number of users, as many Zambians from urban and peri-urban areas or former miners who recently lost their jobs found relatively easy to exploit common pool resources such as the fish and wildlife in Kafue Flats. These people argue that, as citizens of Zambia and as owners of government licences, they have a right to exploit the natural resources. As they are usually more powerful than local people, these outsiders succeed in undermining local access and end up impoverishing local residents. To escape poverty, the latter have started making a commercial use of common pool resources, which amounts to an erosion of local rules, especially those defining access rights between men and women and between individuals and the community. In this light, conservation has a chance to succeed only if traditional resource rights will be re-established in a co-management setting. Some participatory processes aiming at just that have recently been initiated."
common pool resources, conservation, traditional resource management, co-management