This paper argues that the focus in the community based natural resource management (CBNRM) literature on the devolution and decentralisation of state authority and responsibility over natural resources to communities does not pay sufficient attention to the role of the state in creating and maintaining a coherent institutional environment. This is particularly important where many institutions are involved in a community in the processes for asserting, justifying and realising tenure rights, which can lead to overlapping and competing rights to land and resources. Forced to deal with the risk of such confusion escalating into open conflict, communities may adopt risk minimising decisions and strategies. These include relinquishing control over the resource, which results in open access, or trading the entitlements of democracy in the face of dominant structures and people monopolising de facto control. This defeats the purpose of both community based natural resource management and the state's intention to strengthen democracy at local level. To prevent this, the state should devolve authority responsibly through developing and supporting coherent institutional arrangements that widen choices for decisions at local level.
Auteurs et éditeurs
LEAP came into existence in 1988 when a group of KwaZulu-Natal land practitioners from NGOs, government and the private sector began to focus on why the communal property institutions (CPIs) set up under land reform appeared to be failing. The Legal Entity Assessment Project, as it was initially known, questioned the widely held view that the land reform communal property associations (CPAs) and trusts needed capacity building.