Developing local capacity for management of natural resource conflicts in Africa: a review of key issues, approaches, and outcomes | Land Portal

Información del recurso

Date of publication: 
Enero 2005
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

This research paper critically evaluates the key issues and approaches in community-based natural resource conflict management. This assessment is done in light of USAID’s recent framework "Nature, Wealth, and Power" (NWP). The purpose of the framework is to provide a clearer understanding of challenges and options regarding natural resource conflicts and attempts to manage or resolve them. Land and natural resources are vital to livelihoods and identities of people in Africa. Therefore conflicts over their access and use necessitate special attention from those concerned with its development.This paper begins with an evaluation of the NWP framework. It analyses some of its assumptions about conflict management and the broader agenda of African development. The author argues that the framework offers a positive programme for action but can be strengthened by contextualising more clearly the conditions and trends it tries to address. For instance, what are the sources of the issues and problems associated with nature/resources, wealth/economics, and power/governance highlighted in NWP? What contributes to their perpetuation? Such information is vital for proper planning, including overcoming obstacles and pitfalls arising from inaccurate or incorrect assumptions.The next two sections of this research paper examine the social and historical dimensions of African land and natural resource conflicts. The analysis identifies the intractable nature of many of these conflicts, which originate in inequalities embedded in the national policy frameworks set up for administering land during the colonial era. It also describes efforts in recent decades by independent African governments to reform their national policies through a range of interventions, including many recent participatory endeavors. At the same time, the paper reveals how political, economic, demographic, and other socioeconomic factors are altering people’s relationship to land and to each other, triggering more conflicts.The paper concludes with by examining current practices in natural resource conflict management. The author explores some current patterns, especially how people make use of a range of legal orders and of conflict management processes in trying to resolve conflicts. The study also looks at strengths and weaknesses of three major modes of conflict management processes: Alternative Dispute Resolution, which is popular with international donors; national legal systems; and informal conflict management, which the NWP framework identifies as highly significant.The author draws the following conclusion from his research:a multifaceted approach to conflict resolution is vital in the African contextit is crucial in conflict resolution to pay attention to issues of democratisation, national policy and legislative reform, and agrarian change, particularly the socioeconomic and demographic processes fostering intensified competition for land and resourcesinvolve a range of conflict management processes, including national legal systems, alternative dispute resolution, and informal conflict management practices, while paying close attention to each process’s strengths and weaknessescareful attention should be given particularly to issues regarding accessibility and participation by women, the poor, and other socially subordinate groupsgiven the popularity of Alternative Dispute Resolution among international donors, evaluations need to be done to determine its effectiveness and impacts.

Autores y editores

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
P. Castro

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eldis (ELDIS)

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