Natural resource management by local associations in the Kelka Region of Mali
This paper examines the trend of decentralization in natural resource management initiated in 1992 as a result of the state's inability to fairly and adequately manage natural resources in a sustainable fashion. The study on which the paper is based assessed the Kelka Village Associations to determine whether these local organizations have the institutional capacity to manage the environment in a sustainable and equitable manner based on the following criterion: their legitimacy, their authority, their operational capacity, and the content and enforcement of internal regulations. The paper then moves on to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Village Associations and the Walde Kelke Federation, which is the umbrella organization that was installed to protect the environment and amicably settle disputes related to the management of natural resources. A number of weaknesses are also presented: the need to rebuild traditional organizational structures, a lack of legal standing, the peripheral role granted to women, and finally, their lack of support from higher levels of government. The Associations and Federation have, however, placed these local communities in good stead to meet the needs of a decentralized NRM regime.