Rural households who fail to gain a voice in decisions over the management of shared forests, pasturelands, wetlands and fisheries face heightened risks to their livelihoods, particularly as competition increases between existing and new user groups. Exclusion from decision-making increases vulnerability of rural households, making it more difficult for them to move out of poverty and thwarting broader efforts to achieve sustainable resource management. Poor rural women in particular often face institutionalized barriers to effective participation in resource management.
Where natural resources are a key component of the rural economy, the ability of the poor to realize their visions for the future depends significantly on institutional structures that govern resource access and management. This case study reports on an initiative on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zambia, where lakeshore residents face competition over fishing, tourism, and commercial aquaculture.
Conflict management is an intrinsic element of natural resource management, and becomes increasingly important amid growing pressure on natural resources from local uses, as well as from external drivers such as climate change and international investment. If policymakers and practitioners aim to truly improve livelihood resilience and reduce vulnerabilities of poor rural households, issues of resource competition and conflict management cannot be ignored.
In many countries, resource conflict is a leading risk to livelihoods. For some communities, it is a matter of survival. Yet, many development interventions aiming to address these challenges fail or fall far short of their potential. Common reasons include conflicting agendas, power and politics; poor local commitment and leadership; lack of coordination; plus high costs and low sustainability, as programs often unravel when development finance ends.
The three system CGIAR research programs on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, Dryland Systems and Aquatic Agricultural Systems have included “capacity to innovate” as an intermediate development outcome in their respective theories of change.
The CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) takes an innovative approach to improving the lives of poor and vulnerable rural households. It aims to directly benefit some 6 million people (in Asia’s mega deltas, the island systems of the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and Africa’s inland waters), and through scaling with partners to reach 15 million more. By sharing its learning, the program aims to extend the benefits of its approaches to many more people living in other complex systems.
Lake Victoria fisheries face severe environmental stresses. Stocks are declining in a context of increasing population and growing demand for the lake’s resources. Rising competition between users is putting conservation goals and rural livelihoods at risk. While Uganda’s co-management policy framework is well-developed, key resources for implementation are lacking, enforcement is poor, and the relations between stakeholders are unequal. Poor rural resource users face significant challenges to effectively participate in fisheries decision-making.
This guide is a resource document for the training and capacity building of facilitators who conduct participatory action research (PAR) in the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS). AAS aims to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable people reliant on aquatic and agricultural systems for their livelihoods, through collaborative, inclusive PAR with communities and other stakeholders.
Conflict over environmental resources endangers rural people’s livelihoods and can increase the risk of broader social conflict. Yet action to sustain shared resources can also be a potent source of community building. Investing in capacities for conflict management can help launch innovations that build resilient rural livelihoods and strengthen institutions for equitable environmental governance. Governments and development agencies should invest in such capacity and integrate collaborative dialogue about environmental resources into program and policy implementation.
Cambodia’s recent freshwater fishery sector reform, instigated at the top level of government, is one of the country’s most significant contemporary policy developments addressing natural resources management and rural development. Implemented in two main waves, the reforms culminated in the complete removal of inland commercial fishing lots. Yet serious problems still need to be addressed, including reportedly widespread illegal fishing, difficulties in protecting critical habitats, and competition among state agencies over resource management authority.