Social capital: Lessons from West Africa

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The natural resources of the Sahel have been degrading, leading to reduced productivity and incomes and prompting conflicts among pastoralists, sedentary agriculturalists and fisherfolk. The State has been unable to effectively reverse these trends and has embarked on a policy of decentralization, devolving responsibility for NRM to local administrative structures. Decentralization has changed the dynamics of natural resource management (NRM), but it has not yet yielded a methodology for effective local governance in the Sahel. The donor community and NGOs have promoted local institutions as a core element in new strategies for rural development and natural resource management. It is hypothesized that methods to plan together and overcome conflicts are required to both work in the context of limited resources and build social capital to improve the resource base for future generations. This presentation describes the establishment of a multi-village, multi-ethnic organization in the conflict-ridden Mopti Region of Mali and examines the extent to which it has been able to build the social capital necessary to have an impact on the community. It concludes with a set of lessons learned.



Conflict, Natural resource management, Decentralization, Social capital, Community organizations, Ecosystem


Presented at the Segundo Seminario Internacional de Investigación SANREM CRSP: Cambios globales y su efecto sobre los sistemas agropecuarios de la zona andina, La Paz, Bolivia, 28-29 June 2007