Building social infrastructure for decentralized NRM
In this round table, we describe the process, successes and failures associated with developing a new platform (community-based natural resource management committee) for an ethnically diverse population (involving CSO, NGO, and government stakeholders) in the context of West African decentralization and supportive of local NRM decision making and practice consistent with environmental and socio-cultural conditions. The objective of the effort was focused on raising awareness of NRM issues and building leadership capacity to increase the horizontal linkages between stakeholders in the belief that such a common action platform can increase the flow of information and open debate leading to more carefully considered management decisions and, as a consequence, increase trust between communities. We demonstrate that building associational life is not only a matter of gathering people together -- men and women, regardless of ethnic or socio-professional status -- but also requires the development of individual capacities (training in functional literacy, association management, financial management, NRM texts, laws and codes, improved NRM practices, management and reconciliation of the conflicts, etc.) in order for them to assume active roles in the development of their community and to support the development of extracommunal relations and, in particular, the role played by training in conflict management, given its importance for the development of self-confidence and building of credibility for the committee in the development and the safeguarding of the community's natural resources.