Munich Personal RePEc Archive

State Development Interventions versus Indigenous Resource management institutions: Whose Reality Count? Evidence from Borana Pastoral system of Southern Ethiopia

Belayneh, Demissie (2016): State Development Interventions versus Indigenous Resource management institutions: Whose Reality Count? Evidence from Borana Pastoral system of Southern Ethiopia.

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Abstract

The main objective of this paper is to explore the extent to which government policies geared towards “transforming” pastoral way of living into sedentary agriculturalists in pastoral communities of southern Ethiopia had eroded social capital, customary institutions, and livelihoods and deteriorated the living conditions of the very people they are intended to benefit and the resources they are meant to manage. While the essence of building on social capital and local indigenous institutions in the management of common property resources is gaining grounds in the recent times, most government policies in pastoral areas of Africa are drawn on the over-riding dominant narrative of the theory of ‘tragedy of commons’. It is argued that important as these explanations could be, they do not fully illuminate the underlying causation of social and ecological calamity, institutional degradation and the erosion of indigenous resource management and conflict resolution mechanisms. Based on extensive literature review on the Borana- a predominantly pastoral community inhabiting the dry lands of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya - this study contends that contrary to the "tragedy of the commons" thesis and other neo-Malthusian explanations, the weakening and disintegration of communal resource management regimes in Borana is a crucial factor behind rangeland degradation, increased livestock mortality and rising vulnerability of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in the Horn of Africa. It attempts to expose how this ill-intentioned government policy have eroded customary resource management, conflict resolution and livelihood resilience practices, and paved the way distrust and non-cooperation; rangeland resource degradation; livelihood vulnerabilities, and perpetuation of conflicts in the area. The conclusion is that while the tragedy of commons narrative has some grain of truth in some contexts, scholars and policy makers should also look into how best common property resources can be managed by capitalizing on social capitals and customary institutions rather than destroying them, as successful management of natural resources require both an understanding of ecosystem processes and of the interactions between people and the ecosystem.

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