Multiple Uses of Common Pool Resources in Semi-Arid West Africa: A Survey of Existing Practices and Options for Sustainable Resource Management

Multiple Uses of Common Pool Resources in Semi-Arid West Africa: A Survey of Existing Practices and Options for Sustainable Resource Management

Common pool resources such as rangeland, forests, fallow fields and ponds provide an array of social and economic benefits for a wide variety of users in semi-arid west Africa. However, poor definition and enforcement of the institutional arrangements governing the use of these resources sometimes lead to social conflicts and resource degradation. This paper examines why institutional arrangements are at times weak, and suggests what action can be taken.

Policy recommendations:

  • Stakeholders need to have a stronger say in the design of arrangements for managing common pool resources (CPRs); such arrangements necessarily vary according to local socio-economic and biophysical conditions.
  • The handover of CPR management to users is in many cases desirable, but must be based on sound understanding of the heterogeneity of users’ requirements and of the spatial and temporal aspects of formal and informal usufruct rights.
  • The ‘gestion de terroirs’ approach has limitations: in particular, it tends to favour sedentarised resource users.
  • Different levels of organisations have different roles to play in CPR management and clear understanding of these must precede policy initiatives.
  • The state has important roles to play in resolution of disputes, monitoring the implementation of resource use agreements, providing technical and management support for local organisations and carrying out environmental assessments.

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