CDP 7:2

1 Community development

The United Nations defines community development as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.”[1] It is a broad concept, applied to the practices of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens, and professionals to improve various aspects of communities, typically aiming to build stronger and more resilient local communities.

Community development is also understood as a professional discipline, and is defined by the International Association for Community Development (, the global network of community development practitioners and scholars, as “a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes participative democracy, sustainable development, rights, economic opportunity, equality and social justice, through the organisation, education and empowerment of people within their communities, whether these be of locality, identity or interest, in urban and rural settings”.

Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people with the skills they need to effect change within their communities. These skills are often created through the formation of social groups working for a common agenda. Community developers must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities’ positions within the context of larger social institutions.

Community development as a term has taken off widely in anglophone countries, i.e. the United StatesUnited KingdomAustraliaCanadaNew Zealand, as well as other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is also used in some countries in Eastern Europe with active community development associations in Hungary and Romania. The Community Development Journal, published by Oxford University Press, since 1966 has aimed to be the major forum for research and dissemination of international community development theory and practice.[2]

Community development approaches are recognised internationally. These methods and approaches have been acknowledged as significant for local social, economic, cultural, environmental and political development by such organisations as the UN, WHO, OECD, World Bank, Council of Europe and EU.



There are complementary definitions of community development.

The United Nations defines community development broadly as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.”[1] and the International Association for Community Development defines it as both a practice based profession and an academic discipline. Following the adoption of the IACD definition in 2016, the association has gone on to produce International Standards for Community Development Practice. The values and ethos that should underpin practice can be expressed as: Commitment to rights, solidarity, democracy, equality, environmental and social justice. The purpose of community development is understood by IACD as being to work with communities to achieve participative democracy, sustainable development, rights, economic opportunity, equality and social justice. This practice is carried out by people in different roles and contexts, including people explicitly called professional community workers (and people taking on essentially the same role but with a different job title), together with professionals in other occupations ranging from social work, adult education, youth work, health disciplines, environmental education, local economic development, to urban planning, regeneration, architecture and more who seek to apply community development values and adopt community development methods. Community development practice also encompasses a range of occupational settings and levels from development roles working with communities, through to managerial and strategic community planning roles.

The Community Development Challenge report, which was produced by a working party comprising leading UK organizations in the field (including the (now defunct) Community Development Foundation, the (now defunct) Community Development Exchange and the Federation for Community Development Learning) defines community development as:

A set of values and practices which plays a special role in overcoming poverty and disadvantage, knitting society together at the grass roots and deepening democracy. There is a community development profession, defined by national occupational standards and a body of theory and experience going back the best part of a century. There are active citizens who use community development techniques on a voluntary basis, and there are also other professions and agencies which use a community development approach or some aspects of it.[3]

Community Development Exchange defines community development as:

both an occupation (such as a community development worker in a local authority) and a way of working with communities. Its key purpose is to build communities based on justice, equality and mutual respect.

Community development involves changing the relationships between ordinary people and people in positions of power, so that everyone can take part in the issues that affect their lives. It starts from the principle that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience which, if used in creative ways, can be channeled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals.

Community development practitioners work alongside people in communities to help build relationships with key people and organizations and to identify common concerns. They create opportunities for :the community to learn new skills and, by enabling people to act together, community development practitioners help to foster social inclusion and equality.[4]

Different approaches

There are numerous overlapping approaches to community development. Some focus on the processes, some on the outcomes/ objectives. They include:

  • Community Engagement; focuses on relationships at the core of facilitating “understanding and evaluation, involvement, exchange of information and opinions, about a concept, issue or project, with the aim of building social capital and enhancing social outcomes through decision-making” (p. 173).[5]
  • Women Self-help Group; focusing on the contribution of women in settlement groups.[6]
  • Community capacity building; focusing on helping communities obtain, strengthen, and maintain the ability to set and achieve their own development objectives.[7]
  • Large Group Capacitation; an adult education and social psychology approach grounded in the activity of the individual and the social psychology of the large group focusing on large groups of unemployed or semi-employed participants, many of whom with Lower Levels of Literacy (LLLs).
  • Social capital formation; focusing on benefits derived from the cooperation between individuals and groups.
  • Nonviolent direct action; when a group of people take action to reveal an existing problem, highlight an alternative, or demonstrate a possible solution to a social issue which is not being addressed through traditional societal institutions (governments, religious organizations or established trade unions) to the satisfaction of the direct action participants.
  • Economic development, focusing on the “development” of developing countries as measured by their economies, although it includes the processes and policies by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people.
  • Community economic development (CED); an alternative to conventional economic development which encourages using local resources in a way that enhances economic outcomes while improving social conditions. For example, CED involves strategies which aim to improve access to affordable housing, medical, and child care.[8]
    • worker cooperative is a progressive CED strategy that operates as businesses both managed and owned by their employees. They are beneficial due to their potential to create jobs and providing a route for grassroots political action. Some challenges that the worker cooperative faces include the mending of the cooperative’s identity as both business and as a democratic humanitarian organization. They are limited in resources and scale.[9]
  • Sustainable development; which seeks to achieve, in a balanced manner, economic development, social development and environmental protection outcomes.[10]
  • Community-driven development (CDD), an economic development model which shifts overreliance on central governments to local communities.
  • Asset-based community development (ABCD); is a methodology that seeks to uncover and use the strengths within communities as a means for sustainable development.[11]
  • Faith-based community development; which utilizes faith-based organizations to bring about community development outcomes.[12]
  • Community-based participatory research (CBPR); a partnership approach to research that equitably involves, for example, communitymembers, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process and in which all partners contribute expertise and share decision making and ownership, which aims to integrate this knowledge with community development outcomes.[13][14]
  • Community organizing; an approach that generally assumes that social change necessarily involves conflict and social struggle in order to generate collective power for the powerless.
  • Participatory planning including community-based planning (CBP); involving the entire community in the strategic and management processes of urban planning; or, community-level planning processes, urban or rural.[15][16]
  • Town-making; or machizukuri (まちづくり) refers to a Japanese concept which is “an umbrella term generally understood as citizen participation in the planning and management of a living environment”.[17] It can include redevelopment, revitalization, and post-disaster reconstruction, and usually emphasizes the importance of local citizen participation. In recent years, cooperation between local communities and contents tourism (such as video games, anime, and manga) has also become a key driver of machizukuri in some local communities, such as the tie-up between CAPCOM’s Sengoku Basara and the city of Shiroishi.[18]
  • Language-based development; or Language revitalization focuses on the use of a language so that it serves the needs of a community. This may involve the creation of books, films and other media in the language. These actions help a small language community to preserve their language and culture.[19]
  • Methodologies focusing on the educational component of community development, including the community-wide empowerment that increased educational opportunity creates.
  • Methodologies addressing the issues and challenges of the Digital divide, making affordable training and access to computers and the Internet, addressing the marginalisation of local communities that cannot connect and participate in the global Online community. In the United States, nonprofit organizations such as Per Scholas seek to “break the cycle of poverty by providing education, technology and economic opportunities to individuals, families and communities” as a path to development for the communities they serve.[20]

There are a myriad of job titles for community development workers and their employers include public authorities and voluntary or non-governmental organisations, funded by the state and by independent grant making bodies. Since the nineteen seventies the prefix word ‘community’ has also been adopted by several other occupations from the police and health workers to planners and architects, who have been influenced by community development approaches.


Amongst the earliest community development approaches were those developed in Kenya and British East Africa during the 1930s. Community development practitioners have over many years developed a range of approaches for working within local communities and in particular with disadvantaged people. Since the nineteen sixties and seventies through the various anti poverty programmes in both developed and developing countries, community development practitioners have been influenced by structural analyses as to the causes of disadvantage and poverty i.e. inequalities in the distribution of wealth, income, land, etc. and especially political power and the need to mobilise people power to affect social change. Thus the influence of such educators as Paulo Freire and his focus upon this work. Other key people who have influenced this field are Saul Alinsky (Rules for Radicals) and E.F. Schumacher (Small is Beautiful). There are a number of international organisations that support community development, for example, OxfamUNICEFThe Hunger Project and Freedom from Hunger, run community development programs based upon community development initiatives for relief and prevention of malnutrition. Since 2006 the Dragon Dreaming Project Management techniques have spread to 37 different countries and are engaged in an estimated 3,250 projects worldwide.

In the global North

In the 19th century, the work of the Welsh early socialist thinker Robert Owen (1771–1851), sought to create a more perfect community. At New Lanark and at later communities such as Oneida in the USA and the New Australia Movement in Australia, groups of people came together to create utopian or intentional communities, with mixed success.

United States

In the United States in the 1960s, the term “community development” began to complement and generally replace the idea of urban renewal, which typically focused on physical development projects often at the expense of working-class communities. One of the earliest proponents of the term in the United States was social scientist William W. Biddle[21] In the late 1960s, philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation and government officials such as Senator Robert F. Kennedy took an interest in local nonprofit organizations. A pioneer was the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in Brooklyn, which attempted to apply business and management skills to the social mission of uplifting low-income residents and their neighborhoods. Eventually such groups became known as “Community development corporations” or CDCs. Federal laws beginning with the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act provided a way for state and municipal governments to channel funds to CDCs and other nonprofit organizations.

National organizations such as the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (founded in 1978 and now known as NeighborWorks America), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) (founded in 1980), and the Enterprise Foundation (founded in 1981) have built extensive networks of affiliated local nonprofit organizations to which they help provide financing for countless physical and social developmentprograms in urban and rural communities. The CDCs and similar organizations have been credited with starting the process that stabilized and revived seemingly hopeless inner city areas such as the South Bronx in New York City.

United Kingdom

In the UK, community development has had two main traditions. The first was as an approach for preparing for the independence of countries from the former British Empire in the 1950s and 1960s. Domestically it first came into public prominence with the LabourGovernment’s anti deprivation programmes of the latter sixties and seventies. The main example of this being the CDP (Community Development Programme), which piloted local area based community development. This influenced a number of largely urban local authorities, in particular in Scotland with Strathclyde Region’s major community development programme (the largest at the time in Europe).

The Gulbenkian Foundation was a key funder of commissions and reports which influenced the development of community development in the UK from the latter sixties to the 80’s. This included recommending that there be a national institute or centre for community development, able to support practice and to advise government and local authorities on policy. This was formally set up in 1991 as the Community Development Foundation. In 2004 the Carnegie UK Trust established a Commission of Inquiry into the future of rural community development examining such issues as land reform and climate change. Carnegie funded over sixty rural community development action research projects across the UK and Ireland and national and international communities of practice to exchange experiences. This included the International Association for Community Development.

In 1999 a UK wide organisation responsible for setting professional training standards for all education and development practitioners working within local communities was established and recognised by the Labour Government. This organisation was called PAULO – the National Training Organisation for Community Learning and Development. (It was named after Paulo Freire). It was formally recognised by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Its first chair was Charlie McConnell, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Community Education Council, who had played a lead role in bringing together a range of occupational interests under a single national training standards body, including community education, community development and development education. The inclusion of community development was significant as it was initially uncertain as to whether it would join the NTO for Social Care. The Community Learning and Development NTO represented all the main employers, trades unions, professional associations and national development agencies working in this area across the four nations of the UK.

The term ‘community learning and development’ was adopted to acknowledge that all of these occupations worked primarily within local communities, and that this work encompassed not just providing less formal learning support but also a concern for the wider holistic development of those communities – socio-economically, environmentally, culturally and politically. By bringing together these occupational groups this created for the first time a single recognised employment sector of nearly 300,000 full and part-time paid staff within the UK, approximately 10% of these staff being full-time. The NTO continued to recognise the range of different occupations within it, for example specialists who work primarily with young people, but all agreed that they shared a core set of professional approaches to their work. In 2002 the NTO became part of a wider Sector Skills Council for lifelong learning.

The UK currently hosts the only global network of practitioners and activists working towards social justice through community development approach, the International Association for Community Development (IACD).[22] IACD was formed in the USA in 1953, moved to Belgium in 1978 and was restructured and relaunched in Scotland in 1999.[23]


Community development in Canada has roots in the development of co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires. The Antigonish Movement which started in the 1920s in Nova Scotia, through the work of Doctor Moses Coady and Father James Tompkins, has been particularly influential in the subsequent expansion of community economic development work across Canada.


Community development in Australia have often been focussed upon Aboriginal Australian communities, and during the period of the 1980s to the early 21st century were funded through the Community Employment Development Program, where Aboriginal people could be employed in “a work for the dole” scheme, which gave the chance for non-government organisations to apply for a full or part-time worker funded by the Department for Social Security. Dr Jim Ife, formerly of Curtin University, organised a ground breaking text-book on community development

In the “Global South”

Community planning techniques drawing on the history of utopian movements became important in the 1920s and 1930s in East Africa, where community development proposals were seen as a way of helping local people improve their own lives with indirect assistance from colonial authorities.[24]

Mohandas K. Gandhi adopted African community development ideals as a basis of his South African Ashram, and then introduced it as a part of the Indian Swaraj movement, aiming at establishing economic interdependence at village level throughout India. With Indian independence, despite the continuing work of Vinoba Bhave in encouraging grassroots land reform, India under its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru adopted a mixed-economy approach, mixing elements of socialism and capitalism. During the fifties and sixties, India ran a massive community development programme with focus on rural development activities through government support. This was later expanded in scope and was called integrated rural development scheme [IRDP]. A large number of initiatives that can come under the community development umbrella have come up in recent years.

The main objective of community development in India remains to develop the villages and to help the villagers help themselves to fight against poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, etc. The beauty of Indian model of community development lies in the homogeneity of villagers and high level of participation.

Community development became a part of the Ujamaa Villages established in Tanzania by Julius Nyerere, where it had some success in assisting with the delivery of education services throughout rural areas, but has elsewhere met with mixed success. In the 1970s and 1980s, community development became a part of “Integrated Rural Development”, a strategy promoted by United Nations Agencies and the World Bank. Central to these policies of community development were:

In the 1990s, following critiques of the mixed success of “top down” government programs, and drawing on the work of Robert Putnam, in the rediscovery of social capital, community development internationally became concerned with social capital formation. In particular the outstanding success of the work of Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh with the Grameen Bank from its inception in 1976, has led to the attempts to spread microenterprise credit schemes around the world. Yunus saw that social problems like poverty and disease were not being solved by the market system on its own. Thus, he established a banking system which lends to the poor with very little interest, allowing them access to entrepreneurship.[25] This work was honoured by the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Another alternative to “top down” government programs is the participatory government institution. Participatory governance institutions are organizations which aim to facilitate the participation of citizens within larger decision making and action implementing processes in society. A case study done on municipal councils and social housing programs in Brazil found that the presence of participatory governance institutions supports the implementation of poverty alleviation programs by local governments.[26]

The “human scale development” work of Right Livelihood Award-winning Chilean economist Manfred Max Neef promotes the idea of development based upon fundamental human needs, which are considered to be limited, universal and invariant to all human beings (being a part of our human condition). He considers that poverty results from the failure to satisfy a particular human need, it is not just an absence of money. Whilst human needs are limited, Max Neef shows that the ways of satisfying human needs is potentially unlimited. Satisfiers also have different characteristics: they can be violators or destroyers, pseudosatisfiers, inhibiting satisfiers, singular satisfiers, or synergic satisfiers. Max-Neef shows that certain satisfiers, promoted as satisfying a particular need, in fact inhibit or destroy the possibility of satisfying other needs: e.g., the arms race, while ostensibly satisfying the need for protection, in fact then destroys subsistence, participation, affection and freedom; formal democracy, which is supposed to meet the need for participation often disempowers and alienates; commercial television, while used to satisfy the need for recreation, interferes with understanding, creativity and identity. Synergic satisfiers, on the other hand, not only satisfy one particular need, but also lead to satisfaction in other areas: some examples are breastfeeding; self-managed production; popular education; democratic community organizationspreventative medicine; meditation; educational games.


International organizations apply the term community in Vietnam to the local administrative unit, each with a traditional identity based on traditional, cultural, and kinship relations.[27] Community development strategies in Vietnam aim to organize communities in ways that increase their capacities to partner with institutions, the participation of local people, transparency and equality, and unity within local communities.[27]

Social and economic development planning (SDEP) in Vietnam uses top-down centralized planning methods and decision-making processes which do not consider local context and local participation. The plans created by SDEP are ineffective and serve mainly for administrative purposes. Local people are not informed of these development plans.[27] The participatory rural appraisal (PRA) approach, a research methodology that allows local people to share and evaluate their own life conditions, was introduced to Vietnam in the early 1990s to help reform the way that government approaches local communities and development. PRA was used as a tool for mostly outsiders to learn about the local community, which did not effect substantial change.[28]

The village/commune development (VDP/CDP) approach was developed as a more fitting approach than PRA to analyze local context and address the needs of rural communities.[27] VDP/CDP participatory planning is centered around Ho Chi Minh’s saying that “People know, people discuss and people supervise.”[28] VDP/CDP is often useful in Vietnam for shifting centralized management to more decentralization, helping develop local governance at the grassroots level.[28] Local people use their knowledge to solve local issues.[28] They create mid-term and yearly plans that help improve existing community development plans with the support of government organizations.[28] Although VDP/CDP has been tested in many regions in Vietnam, it has not been fully implemented for a couple reasons.[28] The methods applied in VDP/CDP are human resource and capacity building intensive, especially at the early stages. It also requires the local people to have an “initiative-taking” attitude. People in the remote areas where VDP/CDP has been tested have mostly passive attitudes because they already receive assistance from outsiders.[28] There also are no sufficient monitoring practices to ensure effective plan implementation. Integrating VDP/CDP into the governmental system is difficult because the Communist Party and Central government’s policies on decentralization are not enforced in reality.[28]

Non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Vietnam, legalized in 1991, have claimed goals to develop civil society, which was essentially nonexistent prior to the Đổi Mới economic reforms.[29] NGO operations in Vietnam do not exactly live up to their claimed goals to expand civil society.[30][29] This is mainly due to the fact that NGOs in Vietnam are mostly donor-driven, urban, and elite-based organizations that employ staff with ties to the Communist Party and Central government.[30] NGOs are also overlooked by the Vietnam Fatherland Front, an umbrella organization that reports observations directly to the Party and Central government.[29] Since NGOs in Vietnam are not entirely non-governmental, they have been coined instead as ‘VNGOs.’[29] Most VNGOs have originated from either the state, hospital or university groups, or individuals not previously associated with any groups.[29] VNGOs have not yet reached those most in need, such as the rural poor, due to the entrenched power networks’ opposition to lobbying for issues such the rural poor’s land rights.[30] Authoritarianism is prevalent in nearly all Vietnamese civic organizations.[31] Authoritarian practices are more present in inner-organizational functions than in organization leaders’ worldviews.[31] These leaders often reveal both authoritarian and libertarian values in contradiction.[31] Representatives of Vietnam’s NGO’s stated that disagreements are normal, but conflicts within an organization should be avoided, demonstrating the one-party “sameness” mentality of authoritarian rule.[31]

See also


  1. a b “Community development”UNTERM. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  2. ^ “Community Development Journal- about the journal”. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  3. ^ “Community Development Challenge Report” (PDF). Produced by Community Development Foundation for Communities and Local Government. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  4. ^ “Definition of CD”. Community Development Exchange. Archived from the original on 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  5. ^ Johnston, K. A., Lane, A. B., Devin, B., & Beatson, A. (2018). Episodic and Relational Community Engagement: Implications for Social Impact and Social License. In K. A. Johnston & M. Taylor (Eds.), The Handbook of Communication Engagement (pp. 169-185). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  6. ^ Chigbu, UE. (2015). Repositioning culture for development: women and development in a Nigerian rural community. Community, Work & Family, 18,
  7. ^ United Nations Development Group. “United Nations Development System- A Collective Approach to Supporting Capacity Development” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  8. ^ Clay, Roger A.; Jones, Susan R. (2009). “A Brief History of Community Economic Development”. Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law18 (3): 257–267. JSTOR 25782846.
  9. ^ Krishna, Gowri J. (2013). “Worker Cooperative Creation As Progressive Lawyering? Moving Beyond the One-Person, One-Vote Floor”. Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law34 (1): 65–107. JSTOR 24052557.
  10. ^ Sung, Hyung. “Sustainable development”General Assembly of the United Nations. General Assembly of the United Nations. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  11. ^ Mathie, Alison & Cunningham, Gord (1 Jul 2010). “From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development”. Development in Practice13 (5): 474–486. CiteSeerX
  12. ^ “Faith-Based Organizations in Community Development” Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  13. ^ Israel, B.A.; Schulz, A.J.; Parker, E.A.; Becker, A.B. (1998). “Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health”. Annual Review of Public Health19: 173–202. doi:10.1146/annurev.publhealth.19.1.173PMID 9611617.
  14. ^ Israel, B.A., Schulz, A.J., Parker, E.A., Becker, A.B., Allen, A., & Guzman, J.R. (2008). Critical issues in developing and following CBPR Principles. In M. Minkler & N. Wallerstein (Eds.), Community-based participatory research for health: From process to outcomes (2nd ed., pp. 47–66). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  15. ^ Lefevre, Pierre; Kolsteren, Patrick; De Wael, Marie-Paule; Byekwaso, Francis; Beghin, Ivan (December 2000). “Comprehensive Participatory Planning and Evaluation” (PDF). Antwerp, Belgium: IFAD. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  16. ^ McTague, C.; Jakubowski, S. (2013). “Marching to the beat of a silent drum: Wasted consensus-building and failed neighborhood participatory planning”. Applied Geography44: 182–191. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.07.019.
  17. ^ Posio, Pilvi (2018). “Reconstruction machizukuri and negotiating safety in post-3.11 community recovery in Yamamoto”. Contemporary Japan: 1–21. doi:10.1080/18692729.2018.1556495.
  18. ^ Yamamura, Takayoshi (2018). “Pop culture contents and historical heritage: The case of heritage revitalization through ‘contents tourism’ in Shiroishi city”. Contemporary Japan30 (2): 144–163. doi:10.1080/18692729.2018.1460049.
  19. ^
  20. ^ “Per Scholas Website”. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  21. ^ List, E. Frederick (1973). “In Memoriam: William W. Biddle”. Journal of the Community Development Society4 (1): 5. doi:10.1080/00103829.1973.10877482.
  22. ^ “International Association for Community Development”. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  23. ^ “IACD- a brief history”. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  24. ^ Anderson, David (1984). “Depression, Dust Bowl, Demography, and Drought: The Colonial State and Soil Conservation in East Africa during the 1930s”. African Affairs83 (332): 321–343. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a097622JSTOR 722351.
  25. ^ Gebremariam, Yilma (2010). “Review of Small Loans, Big Dreams: How the Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World”. Eastern Economic Journal36 (1): 142–144. doi:10.1057/eej.2009.19JSTOR 20642514.
  26. ^ Donaghy, Maureen M. (2011). “Do Participatory Governance Institutions Matter? Municipal Councils and Social Housing Programs in Brazil”. Comparative Politics44 (1): 83–102. doi:10.5129/001041510X13815229366606JSTOR 23040659.
  27. a b c d Yen, N. T. K.; Luong, P. Van (2008-07-01). “Participatory village and commune development planning (VDP/CDP) and its contribution to local community development in Vietnam”. Community Development Journal43 (3): 329–340. doi:10.1093/cdj/bsn018ISSN 0010-3802.
  28. a b c d e f g h Yen, N. T. K.; Van Luong, P. (2008-06-05). “Participatory village and commune development planning (VDP/CDP) and its contribution to local community development in Vietnam”. Community Development Journal43 (3): 329–340. doi:10.1093/cdj/bsn018ISSN 0010-3802.
  29. a b c d e Gray, Michael (October 1999). “Creating Civil Society? The Emergence of NGOs in Vietnam” (PDF). Development and Change– via School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
  30. a b c Mercer, Clare (2002). “NGOs, civil society and democratization: a critical review of the literature”. Progress in Development Studies2: 5–22. doi:10.1191/1464993402ps027ra.
  31. a b c d Wischermann, Jorg (July 2013). “Civic Organizations in Vietnam’s One-Party State: Supporters of Authoritarian Rule?”GIGA Working Papers228 – via German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Towards Shared International Standards for Community Development Practice. IACD. 2018

External links

  • The Citizens’ Handbook – A large collection practices and activities for citizens’ groups
  • National Civic League – US organization that promotes partnerships between government and citizens’ groups
  • Shelterforce – A nonprofit magazine on community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.

Chapter 2: Institutional issues in community forestry

Introduction to community forestry
Institutional issues in community forestry

Introduction to community forestry

The emphasis on people and communities as the end users of trees is a hallmark of community forestry. This people-centred approach stands in marked contrast to the technical forestry approach that was typical of forestry operations in developing areas in the 1960s and early 1970s. The design of forestry projects has evolved significantly since that time. Most of the early projects focused on projected fuelwood and timber shortages and favoured the creation of vast timber plantations. The approach was generally highly technical and standardized, taking little account of existing production systems and agroforestry efforts. Local activities were often swept aside in order to make room for the plantations. Most of these early projects failed.

In the late 1970s international donors began sponsoring a second generation of forestry activities. The failures of the ‘top-down’ projects of the 1960s sent a strong signal that local participation was a critical element in forest management projects. In response, the next generation of projects ‘downsized’ the plantations, reconfiguring them as village woodlots and involving local populations in the implementation of the activities.

Villagers’ roles were still largely limited to that of labouring in project activities, however. Villagers had little to do with the design of the projects or decisions about how they would be implemented. For their part, the project designers focused on getting the trees that they had identified as being the best for fuelwood (usually exotic species) planted and watered. Rarely did they pay attention to such issues as the multiple roles trees play in local production systems, or try to determine what trees were judged most useful by the local populations and why. Nor were the project designers much concerned with how the plantations would be used once they reached maturity or how the benefits would be distributed. If and when these issues were considered at all, it was generally assumed that local people would resolve any problems as they arose.

In retrospect, it is clear that despite the best intentions of these projects many failed at least in part because they underestimated the difficulties communities faced in resolving the governance and management issues associated with woodlots and other local forestry initiatives. Tree and land tenure issues plagued many of the projects and there were often conflicts over who had rights to the resources in the woodlots. In other cases, people were reluctant to invest labour in the woodlots if they were not sure that they would have access to their benefits. The cost of governance was also an issue in some communities. Communities that tried to govern their woodlots often faced substantial costs in both time and money as they sought to comply with official regulations. In some cases, people had to travel great distances to obtain permits to cut the trees they had planted or to get permission to process or sell the wood.

The field of community forestry came into being in the early 1980s as development organizations and rural development specialists began to absorb the lessons of the failed plantations and woodlots. They realized from their experiences that foresters could be more effective when they focused first on local communities’ needs and then developed a collaborative programme with community members to improve the sustainable use of forest resources. Such programmes combined the knowledge and professional skills of the forester with the knowledge and resources of the local community.

Projects are now much more sensitive to the need to involve local people at all phases of project development and implementation, beginning with participatory planning exercises that identify local needs and adapt the project design to local circumstances. There is also a much greater understanding that social andeconomic issues are as important as technical ones in contributing to the success or failure of projects. Each issue requires painstaking attention at the project design stage and continuous monitoring while the project is being implemented.

Community Forestry Activities Community forestry involves three kinds of activities. First, it includes peoples use of forest resources to meet their subsistence needs. This might involve hunting or gathering fuel wood, building poles, fruits, nuts and medicinal plants. Second, community forestry includes activities people undertake to preserve or improve their production systems. This might involve planting trees and bushes in hedgerows to serve as windbreaks or promoting the growth of trees in fields or pasture areas in order to fertilize the soil, protect against wind and water erosion, and provide forage and shade. Third, community forestry considers how people produce goods (based on forest resources) that will be sold or traded. This includes such diverse activities as producing tools and furniture, making rope and weaving mats harvesting timber, collecting wood and preparing certain foods and oils for the market.

Institutional issues in community forestry

Among the social factors to be considered in the design and implementation of community forestry projects are institutional issues. From the earliest human communities, people throughout the world have had to decide who could use what resources, when, where and how. These rules, created by people to manage their resources, are defined here as institutional arrangements. Under this definition, national forestry agencies can be considered institutional arrangements as well as organizations. Local cooperatives that sell baskets made from palm fronds are organizations, but institutional arrangements as well. Land and tree tenure regulations and various procedures that communities develop to deal with conflict are clearly institutional arrangements.

People in all communities manipulate their rules. Institutional arrangements evolve over time. This happens because needs change or because people come into conflict or contact with other groups. As institutional arrangements change, people change their behaviour toward natural resources and this can often have an impact (which may be positive or negative) on the resource base. Evidence suggests, for example, that the species composition of even some of the most apparently wild Amazonian forests of South America is a result of human efforts over several centuries to improve the overall productivity of the resource base by planting and nurturing species known to produce desired products. It is fair to assume that the indigenous people of the Amazon region who engaged in these activities did not do so in a random fashion. Rather, they almost certainly had institutional arrangements, consisting of sets of rules, that defined tenure rights to the trees and their products or determined how and when those products could be harvested. Institutional arrangements for community forestry such as those of the prehistoric indigenous populations can still be found today, both among their present-day descendants and in groups as diverse as the Dogon in central Mali and the hill tribes of Nepal. Recent investigations document how, over the past several centuries, communities in West Africa have deliberately reforested areas to ensure their access to valued forest products (Fairhead & Leach, 1995). In short, wherever people make use of tree products, some institutional arrangements for community forestry are almost certainly in place. They may be more or less sophisticated and may have either a positive or a negative effect on the resource base, but they almost certainly exist.

Institutional IncentivesInstitutional incentives may be very straightforward and direct, with obvious implications for forest resources. A community may have a rule, for example, that people may collect only dead wood for fuel. If the rule is applied and sanctions are in place for those who do not follow the rule, then one would expect the tree cover to be denser there than in another community that has no such regulation. In other cases, however, the incentives are more complex and the impact may be less evident. A government regulation prohibiting the pruning or cutting of trees without permission from the authorities, for example, may be intended to protect forests and trees. But the effect may be just the opposite. Villagers may be concerned that even if they plant a tree in their own field they may not be able to obtain permission to prune it or cut it down at some later date. If they are concerned that the tree they plant might someday interfere with crop production, they may simply decide that under the circumstances it is better not to take the risk of planting a tree in their fields. The accumulated effect of all the villagers’ decisions may be that there are considerably fewer trees in a community than there otherwise would be.In a case such as the one described above, the outsider may too quickly jump to the conclusion that “villagers do not understand the importance of trees” or “villagers are not interested in planting trees in their fields.” In reality, however, villagers may be highly knowledgeable about the benefits of tree planting and protection. The problem is that they are discouraged from this activity by the institutional disincentives they face.

Personnel working in community forestry and natural resource governance try to understand how institutional arrangements and changes in institutional arrangements affect people’s interaction with their environment because of the consequences this interaction has for trees and forests. This is where institutional incentives are important. Rules create compelling incentives or motivations for certain types of behaviour. They discourage or negatively sanction other types of activity. Depending on the incentives and disincentives they face, people will perform actions that protect and nurture forest resources or they will carry out activities that are harmful to these resources.

In the past, project personnel have tended to avoid these institutional issues. In some cases this was because they simply did not recognize the importance of institutional issues for the success of the project. In other cases, they had a vague idea of why they might be important, but had difficulty understanding how to approach a subject that tends to be both complex and amorphous.

The purpose of this manual is to shed light on the importance of institutional issues and on how to approach them. Using examples from a hypothetical community forestry case study, it will show why it is so important to address these issues. It will also attempt to clarify governance issues, showing which factors are most critical and suggesting a systematic approach to gathering information about institutional concerns.

Careful analysis of institutional incentives and disincentives can help forestry project personnel and their government counterparts see beyond superficial and often misleading explanations of people’s behaviour in order to understand some of the underlying reasons for the ways in which local populations interact with their environment. It can also help identify national projects, as well as local institutional incentives and disincentives to resource management practices. Once project personnel understand these issues, they will be in a better position to work with the local community to modify those institutions which appear to have undesirable consequences. Together, forestry professionals and local populations can see how local governance structures and rules systems might be strengthened so that forestry and other development efforts undertaken by the community will have a greater chance of success.

Before proceeding further, it should be noted that while institutional issues are critically important to the success of forestry activities, the process of institutional analysis and change is never simple and rarely easy. Governance, by definition, involves the use of power to make and enforce decisions. When decisions concerning access to and use of resources are being made, they invariably affect a large number of stakeholders who have different (and often conflicting) interests. The state may have interests different from those of local communities. Different groups within local communities may have divergent interests. In each case there will be interests that have more or less power to influence the decisions being made. Institutional analysis can help to clarify these different relations of force and how they affect the way resources are used. In some cases it may even help to empower those who have been left out of the debate as issues are explained and interests more clearly expressed. It would be naive to think that institutional analysis alone can change entrenched power relations within and between communities. But it can offer essential understanding of the chances any community forestry venture has of succeeding.

One of the implicit problems of institutional change is that in most cases powerful people not only have a strong influence when decisions are made but they also influence the rules about who makes decisions and how. And those rules often reinforce their positions of influence and protect their interests. Institutional analysis requires sensitivity to these issues, as well as persistence and creativity. In some cases efforts to change institutions as a result of such an analysis will be successful and the impact dramatic. More often the process will be a long one, results will be mixed, and the impact will come slowly as a result of incremental improvements over time. One result is almost certain, however: communities and outsiders who participate in a careful and systematic institutional analysis will emerge from the experience with a far more sophisticated understanding of the development process and the real constraints to implementing improved resource management strategies. An institutional analysis can also inform all of the groups involved of an activity’s chances of success even before it gets under way, or of why an ongoing effort is not making progress. It can also clarify which national projects or local rules are influencing community forestry decisions and what options are available with or without institutional change.

Chapter 3: A systematic approach to studying institutional issues

Case study: The village of Garin Dan Djibo

An institutional analysis1 for a community forestry project typically attempts to understand the incentives that motivate human behaviour in a particular place at a particular time and the impact of those behaviours on the natural resource base. It does this by analysing incentives, choices and outcomes.

1 The form of institutional analysis described in this field manual draws heavily on several variants of Institutional Analysis and Design (IAD) developed since the 1950s by scholars and practitioners associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA. IAD is used to analyse a multitude of problems including institutional issues in the governance and management of renewable resources

 such as forests, fisheries, groundwater basins, watersheds and pastures. See in particular Oakerson, 1992; Ostrom, 1991; and Ostrom, 1992.


An incentive is something that makes a person want to do something. Money can be an incentive: a project can pay people to plant trees, for example. Fear can be an incentive: fear of their ancestors may cause a group of people to protect a sacred forest. Concern for family welfare can be an incentive: farmers may plant trees on their fields in hopes of increasing their yields so they can feed their families better. In short, incentives take many forms. The complex array of incentives facing individuals and communities in large part determines their interactions with the environment around them.

One part of an institutional analysis involves trying to understand the incentives people face and the sources of those incentives. Because incentives come from many different sources and take many different forms it can be difficult to discern the multiple and diverse incentives that are at work in a community. This manual suggests that incentives can best be understood by breaking the problem down and considering three kinds of incentives that people typically face: (1) incentives related to the characteristics of the resource base; (2) incentives related to the characteristics of the community; and (3) incentives related to the characteristics of the rules in place in that community. The box illustrates briefly how each of these factors can create incentives or disincentives for people’s behaviour toward a tree resource. These issues will be taken up in much greater detail in Chapters 3, 4 and 5, which address each of these sources of incentives in turn.

Types of Incentives to Resource UseIn the village of Timifa, there are many mango trees that produce a particularly succulent and desirable fruit. These trees are owned by the people who planted them and according to the tenure rules of the village the fruit may not be picked by anyone without the owners permission. Since the principal violators of the rule are generally children who pick the mangoes while they are still green, the punishment is a beating of the miscreant and a small fine for the parents. This is an example of a disincentive that is associated with the rulesof the community. There is a rule against harvesting fruit; it is clear and well understood and is associated with an explicit punishment. While some of the mango trees are planted in the near fields of the village and around compounds, many of them are in more distant fields. Since these are early mangoes, they generally ripen before farmers are active in the fields and so, short of posting a guard in the outer fields, there is no way of identifying the mango thieves and making them face punishment. In this case, a characteristic of the resource (the difficulty of controlling access, meaning that the culprit is unlikely to be caught) substantially reduces the incentive to obey the rule.The people in the community, however, have strong animistic beliefs and universally fear certain forest spirits that they believe inhabit the region. Some farmers hang amulets in their trees, as no one would dare approach a tree that is under such a spirits protection. A characteristic of the community, namely its shared religious beliefs, adds incentives that protect the fruit and the rights of the owner.


A second part of the analysis involves looking at the choices people make when confronted by various incentives. These choices result in patterns of resource use. In the case of the mangoes, each person in the area faces a set of incentives and disincentives to picking the luscious mango fruit. Depending on how people weigh those incentives and disincentives, they will decide whether or not to pick the fruit, and, if so, when and where. Their decisions will have an immediate effect on the resource and will also have secondary effects on future actions of others in the community. If the incentive structure is such that trees far from the village are being raided regularly, then villagers may decide no longer to plant trees in those more remote areas, or they may try to change the incentives to protect owners’ rights, or they may decide that it really does not matter because the quantity picked by the children is insignificant in comparison to the total harvest.


The discussion of choices introduces the third part of the analysis, which assesses the outcome of all the choices being made in order to determine whether and how changes should be made in the system of incentives. People face a complex set of incentives as they go about their daily lives. They make choices throughout the day and the year that are based on these incentives. The result is a pattern of resource use by individuals and by the community as a whole. What is the impact of all those resource use decisions on forests, trees and the community itself?

There are many criteria that can be used to assess the impact of the incentive structure on the resource base and on members of the community.·

 The efficiency of how the resource is being used: Are resources being used to their maximum potential? Is there wastage?

· The equitability of resource exploitation: Do some people have greater access than others? What is the basis of discrimination in resource access? Is the system ‘fair’?

· The sustainability of resource use: Can these use patterns be sustained into the future? Are resources regenerating at approximately the same rate at which they are being used?

· The preservability of biological diversity: Are diverse species being protected? Are some species becoming dominant at the expense of others?

In this part of the analysis, the forestry professionals, project personnel and members of the community will need to sit down together to discuss the effect that current resource use patterns are having both on the local population and on the resources themselves. It is important to bring as much knowledge as possible to bear on these discussions. The outsiders will be able to offer insights based on their professional experience; villagers will have critical insights based on their intimate knowledge of the local environment and community.

There are no absolute ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ in such an analysis and, in fact, there are likely to be trade-offs in terms of the various criteria that are used to evaluate the outcomes. Resource use patterns that are highly equitable, allowing everyone in the community equal access to a resource, may in some cases lead to unsustainable use. Sustainable use may call for more controls and limits on resource use, but those controls may not be applied even-handedly and some groups (a certain ethnic group, newcomers, outsiders, women) may lose out when controls are established. A system that is designed to be highly sustainable, requiring the authorization of a forestry professional before a tree can be cut, for example, may be highly inefficient if it means that villagers have to spend time and travel long distances to get the requisite approvals.

The key, then, in assessing outcomes is to avoid following a preconceived idea of what the ‘correct’ outcomes should be. The appropriateness of the outcomes will depend on values that are determined explicitly by the community, perhaps in consultation with outside professionals. The inhabitants of one community may decide that they want to preserve a dense forest area by prohibiting cutting under any circumstances. People in another community may decide, in light of their community’s values, that they will permit some types of exploitation of their forest even if this implies a limited loss of biomass or biological diversity. What is important is that the criteria used to evaluate the outcomes (and to modify the incentive structure if necessary) be explicit and systematic. Trade-offs, especially, should be examined carefully so that everyone understands the costs and advantages of making certain decisions.

The interactions between (1) the characteristics of the resource, the community and the rules, (2) the incentives for individual behaviour and. (3) the impact on the resource base are illustrated in Figure 1. The downward arrows trace the development of the process that has been described here. The characteristics outlined above create incentives for behaviour, leading people to make certain choices, which in turn result in an outcome (positive or negative) on the resource base. The upward feedback arrows are reminders, however, that these outcomes may provoke further changes in the characteristics of the resource, the community and the rules.

Unsustainable outcomes may result in resource shortages and scarcity that alter the characteristic of the resource in question; inequitable outcomes may result in conflict that over time changes certain characteristics of the community; inefficient use may cause the community to change some of the rules governing resource access. In short, the system is not a static one but is constantly changing and evolving.

Because the elements of the model (characteristics, incentives, choices/behaviour, and outcomes) are interactive, in practice the analysis of incentives, choices and outcomes may not follow the sequential order described above. More often, a problem (outcome) is diagnosed first and the analysis works backward from there. A forester may be attracted to work in a community precisely because a negative outcome is observed. Perhaps the forester observes massive cutting of old growth on steep hillsides around the community and is concerned that this will result in serious soil erosion and rapid deterioration of the resource base. This may lead to a study that attempts to analyse the pattern of resource exploitation (who is cutting and when) and then probes more deeply to understand the incentive structure (why) that may be influencing this activity. This, in turn, might cause the community to introduce changes in conjunction with the project that would result in a different balance of incentives and greater protection of the hillsides.

Figure 1: Interactions between characteristics of the resource, the community and the rules, incentives for individual behaviour and impact on the resource base

Adapted from a series of models developed by participants at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.

In short, it is important to initiate the institutional analysis by working backwards through the chain of heavy black arrows. Once the incentive(s) for inappropriate behaviour is (are) clarified, it may be possible to do something about it (them). To do so, one must understand the interconnections between the different parts of the analysis and their relevance for natural resource management. The key is to ensure that none of the three steps is left out. It is useless to analyse the incentives that lead people to act in ways that degrade renewable resources if that information is not used to better understand people’s interactions with their environment and to determine how those interactions can be made more sustainable, equitable, etc., by changing the incentives people face. Similarly, it is of little use to identify an unsustainable activity if one does not then try to understand the kind of incentives that underlie that activity, and how those incentives might be changed to give people a reason to act in more resource-friendly ways.

This manual focuses on the analysis of incentives, since this is where some of the most detailed and complex reflection is required. As the various sources of incentives are addressed, the possible consequences on resource use decisions and patterns of exploitation are discussed, as well as the implications for sustainable, equitable and efficient resource use. In this way, the interaction between these three levels of analysis is highlighted throughout the text.

The Guidelines Box on the following page serves as a reminder of some of the issues to be considered as the professional begins a process of institutional analysis with a local community. The chapter concludes by introducing a hypothetical case study that illustrates the concepts that have been discussed up until now. These issues will be treated in greater detail and the case study will be further developed in the chapters that follow.

Guidelines for implementing an institutional Analysis:
Setting Up the StudyThe first task in an institutional analysis is to identify the community where the analysis will take place and the general issues to be considered. This will often involve the activities listed below. They are described here as preliminary because the information assembled at this stage will be refined as the study progresses.1. Make a preliminary identification of the community.2. Make a preliminary identification of the problem.The first two steps are linked, since identification of the community and the problem are inter-related. In most cases an institutional analysis will be most successful if it starts with a community forestry problem (that is, something that the community or some of its members consider to be a problem) and then tries to understand the problem in its larger context. Usually the problem will arise from a difficulty that local people encounter In trying to meet their subsistence needs maintain or strengthen their production systems, or produce goods or services for market. At this stage the key is to focus on a community that has a community forestry problem and appears motivated to address that problem in collaboration with the outside facilitator:3. Make a preliminary identification of stakeholders with an interest in the problem.Gather as much information as possible through informal discussion and investigation in order to identify the principal protagonists In the problem and others who may have a less direct role but are still concerned. They are likely to include both resident community members as well as outsiders: government officials, project personnel, etc.4. Establish a process to study the issue In collaboration with community leaders, local activists, stakeholders and other concerned community members.This manual outlines issues that must be considered in a systematic institutional analysis and proposes methods that may serve in gathering the information that is required it recommends the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methodology as one useful approach to studying these questions because PRA is well suited to the type of collaborative, reflective, research process that attempts to come up with practical responses to concerns raised by communities. (See Appendix I for brief descriptions of eight PRA tools, Some or all of which may be useful in trying to solve a community forestry problem with concerned members of a community.) The authors recognize that there are many other valid mechanisms for gathering this kind of information indeed the issues are far too complex to recommend a single approach that would be valid for all places and cases. Readers are advised to think carefully about the method that will work best in their milieus and to use the conceptual framework that is presented to guide the community through the study process. In all cases the approach the participants and the tools used will have to be adapted to local conditions. The key is to ensure that the community has a role in planning the study and feels comfortable with its objectives and with the process that is put in place.

Case study: The village of Garin Dan Djibo

SettingGarin Dan Djibo is a small village near Niger’s border with Nigeria, well north of the forests and 200 km south of the Sahara. Rainfall is low and the fragile soils blow in the wind. Though this community is an imaginary one, there are thousands of villages like Garin Dan Djibo throughout the Sahelian region of west and central Africa.There are approximately 1 00 households in this community, and the people share the same language and culture. The level of economic well-being varies from household to household, but outsiders would consider the peasant farmers living in the village to be quite poor. Their houses are clustered close to one another but their farms are on the periphery of the village; some are as much as a 5 km walk away from where people live. For as long as people can remember, farmers in this semi-arid area have grown millet, which is the principal pillar of their subsistence. Preparing the land and tending to millet define the seasonally of work, for women as well as men. Over the years, the village has grown in size, and people now compete for good land and forest resources, which are becoming increasingly scarce.While the villagers of Garin Dan Djibo consider themselves to be primarily cultivators, they do keep some animals. Most families own both goats and Zebu cattle, though the size of their herds has diminished noticeably over recent decades. These animals are put under the care of specialist herders who live in the area. During the dry season the animals are herded onto village lands where they use the fields (now harvested) for pasture and leave their manure, which is a prime source of fertilizer for the sandy soils. In addition, transhumant pastoralists move through village lands twice a year, usually with much larger herds than those that are owned locally.Farming practices in Garin Dan Djibo are still mainly very traditional. Tools and agricultural inputs have changed little from those used by the inhabitants’ great-grandfathers. Yet this apparent conservatism masks some major changes in production systems since the colonial period. It was during that time (1899-1960) that groundnuts were introduced. Also during the colonial period the administration began requiring adults to pay an annual head tax in cash, a policy designed to promote the production of groundnuts, the principal cash crop. In years of crop failures caused by drought men from Garin Dan Djibo would find work as migrant labourers.The decade after Niger gained its independence in 1960 was a time of expanded production of groundnuts in Garin Dan Djibo. The fields of the village were increased at each opportunity as pastures were cleared and put into groundnut production. There was less grazing land for livestock, and villagers had to walk farther each year to collect fuelwood or cut poles for house construction. At the same time the numbers of both people and livestock were increasing.Both French colonialism and commercial groundnut production are distant memories in Garin Dan Djibo at the time when our story begins. The village, more than twice the size it was at the time the country gained its independence, is now connected by a dirt road to the arrondissement (county) centre, some 40 km away, where there is a large regional market. The villagers now produce almost no groundnuts because soil fertility has diminished severely but the cash economy continues to be important. Truck operators travel to Garin Dan Djibo to buy charcoal and other forest products, and farmers use the cash to buy commercial items at the market. Men now migrate more frequently to distant urban areas to look for work.The institutional and physical environments have also undergone profound changes over the last century. The administration is now considerably closer and more involved in day-to-day village life than it was during the colonial period. Now government offices at the canton (subcounty) level are staffed with civil servants and technical field staff, all with considerable authority to interpret and implement national government policy and offer technical advice. The canton offices, 1 5 km from the village, have extension agents for forest and agricultural issues as well as health services. The physical surroundings of Garin Dan Djibo have also changed dramatically. Land that was once forested and then cleared for groundnut production is now little more than blowing sand. Some of this land has been planted with millet, but most of it is too poor for cultivation; trees and bushes have not regenerated and it offers only the most barren grazing for livestock. The village has lost significant amounts of topsoil to wind erosion and millet yields have consequently declined.As happens throughout the world in communities that have experienced rapid social change and environmental degradation, the village of Garin Dan Djibo has begun to experience interpersonal conflict to a degree unknown in past decades. As fertile land has become more scarce, there are more disputes among families over rights to land; both villagers and outsiders quarrel over access to other natural resources in the territory. The situation facing a farmer named Maman is illustrative of the kinds of issues that have become so confrontational in recent years. Agroforestry and the Gawo TreeNearly 10 years ago Maman, who has lived most of his life in the village of Garin Dan Djibo, decided he would encourage the growth of more gawo (Acacia albida) trees on his fields. Gawo trees reseed themselves naturally in the sandy, cultivated soils of millet fields, particularly when deposited in the droppings of animals that have eaten the pods. Unless particular care is taken, however, most of these seedlings do not reach maturity because they are eaten by animals or damaged by the ploughs used to prepare the millet fields. As a result, most fields have no more than two or three gawo growing on them.Maman had heard from several sources that a higher density of gawo would protect his millet field from wind erosion and improve its soil fertility, problems that were becoming more serious each season. The gawo tree drops its leaves just before the growing season. These leaves, which are rich in nutrients, help to fertilize the soil while the roots fix nitrogen with their nodules. The bare branches allow enough sun to reach crops so they grow well but also provide a lattice of shade that protects millet plants growing under the tree’s crown, especially during periods of drought. The leaves sprout again once the rainy season has ended. They provide welcome shade for domestic livestock, which also browse on the leaves and vitamin-rich seed pods. The droppings of animals that congregate around the gawo trees in fields also make a significant contribution to soil fertility.When Maman decided to attack the problem of soil erosion by protecting the gawo seedlings in his field, he first marked the seedlings with a strip of red cloth so that he would be sure to plough around them. Then, before the animals were released into the fields after the harvest, he carefully wove a protective sleeve made of reeds and thorn branches for each seedling so that animals could not nibble on the tender bark. For nine years, Maman systematically protected the gawo seedlings in his millet field. Seedlings and saplings, some as high as 5 m tall, were well established in his field and were just beginning to have the desired effect in improving the soil and reducing erosion when disaster struck.ConflictIn April of the tenth year, near the end of the dry season, Maman went to his field to ready it for cultivation. He had not visited the area since the previous November when he had put the thorn sleeves around the new seedlings. He had had no other reason to be in his field during the dry season. As Maman approached his field he could see that instead of being covered with a small forest of gawo trees, the field was littered with branches stripped of their leaves. Someone had entered the field and cut 20 of the 30 saplings growing there. Maman suspected that it had been a herder because some of the trunks and branches were still lying on the ground but had been stripped of their leaves, presumably for animal fodder. It appeared that some of the larger poles had been dragged off by people looking for fuel-wood or building poles. After his initial surprise and anger, Maman began to think more calmly about the situation. He thought of trying to identify the culprit and demanding compensation, but how could he track down a herder who had perhaps passed through weeks earlier? After mulling over his options, he concluded that he just had to be realistic and accept that his plan had failed: if he could not control poaching by outsiders, he would have to abandon his idea of using gawo trees to improve the productivity of his millet field. This conclusion was all the more depressing because he knew that in no way could he afford chemical fertilizers.Maman left the field carrying two poles on his shoulder, determined to return immediately with his children to collect the rest of the wood that had been cut down. On his way home he met a government extension agent, whom he informed of both the situation and his decision. The extension agent was sympathetic but he realized that under the circumstances there was nothing he could say that would convince Maman to change his mind. They parted, going their separate ways.CommentaryIn this introduction to the case study some first indications of incentives, choices and outcomes can already be discerned. The planting of gawo trees in the village would be environmentally beneficial on several counts, increasing soil fertility and decreasing wind erosion in an area where these are substantial problems. Yet a progressive farmer who took the initiative to plant these trees has become so discouraged that he has abandoned his project. The initially positive incentives that led to his choice to protect the trees have changed so that now he and probably others who have observed his actions will be discouraged from investing their time in this important community forestry activity.Maman’s decision was also highly discouraging to the technical field staff posted to his area. From a technical point of view, growing Acacia albida on farmland was an intelligent and appropriate decision and, however small in scale, the initiative was having the intended effect on this particular millet field. Now the agent’s technical recommendations were coming up against difficult institutional problems. This is precisely the kind of case where it can be helpful to undertake a systematic institutional analysis. By looking at the incentives people face (both those who would plant trees and those who might cut them down), the community, with the assistance of the extension staff, may be able to find ways to change those incentives in order to protect the initiatives of farmers like Maman whose efforts make a significant contribution to improving the local environment.

Chapter 3: The characteristics of the resource and resource management incentives

Forest resources and their outputs: Goods and services
Resource characteristics
Categorizing outputs: Private, toll, common pool, and public goods and services
Implications for resource management
Case Study: Analysis of resource characteristics in Garin Dan Djibo

Chapter 2 discussed the importance of incentives as a key factor in people’s behaviour toward the environment. It was noted that incentives come from many different sources. One kind of incentive is related to the resource itself. Certain characteristics of resources create incentives for people to act in one way or another. When a resource is very scarce and very valuable, for example, the incentives to steal that resource will be considerably stronger than if the resource is plentiful or not particularly useful. In both the Timifa mango case and the case study of Maman, the difficulties in controlling access to a resource that was somewhat remote gave people an incentive to poach, an action that they might not have taken if the resource had been controlled more closely by the owner.

This chapter discusses some of the characteristics of resources that are most important in determining incentives. The first step is to identify the resources and the product(s) that are involved in the problem. The next step is to analyse the incentives that are associated with that resource. Some characteristics of resources are particularly important in determining incentives for how people treat those resources. The following section distinguishes first between the resource itself and the outputs of the resource and then analyses two sets of characteristics that are particularly important: the feasibility of exclusion and the nature of consumption.

Forest resources and their outputs: Goods and services

First it is important to distinguish between the resource itself and the outputs of the resource. Trees and bushes, whether in a forest, on fields, in hedgerows or in gardens, are resources. These resources may be thought of as ‘production plants’ or factories that can generate various goods and services. The goods produced by a tree or forest resource can include such diverse items as fuelwood, construction materials, food for humans and animals, and raw materials for rope or medicines. Tree and forest resources can also produce services such as providing shade, protecting against soil and water erosion, producing green manure and nutrient pumping, storing water and providing habitats for wildlife and fish.

It is often not useful to speak generally of the characteristics of the resource. This is because each of its outputs will have different characteristics in terms of the analytic categories suggested below. It makes better sense to identify the output in question (fruit, fuelwood, shade) and then to consider its characteristics and the incentives that they create for managing the output in one way or another.

Resource characteristics

Two characteristics of outputs are important in creating incentives for how a resource is managed. The first characteristic is the feasibility of exclusion and the second characteristic is the nature of consumption.

Feasibility of exclusion is a term used to indicate whether it is easy or difficult to control access to a good or service. For any good or service it will be easier (higher feasibility of exclusion) or harder (lower feasibility of exclusion) for someone to keep other users from gaining access to the output. It may be relatively easy for individual farmers to keep strangers away from a single valuable mango tree in their compound. They and the members of their family can watch it and, if necessary, build a thorn fence around it. Maman found it considerably harder to control access to his gawo trees. The trees were not in sight of his compound and it would have been prohibitively expensive to fence the entire field. The problem of controlling access is often very difficult in the case of community forests or woodlots that are on the periphery of village lands and are sometimes shared by several villages. In cases such as these one would say that the feasibility of exclusion is low.

Determining the Feasibility of ExclusionIn determining the feasibility of exclusion it is useful to consider certain factors:· Can the resource be seen and easily monitored (at low cost, with little or no extra effort) by the owner (s)?· How far away is the resource?· Can unauthorized users easily gain access to the output or do they need special tools or knowledge?· Can the resource be fenced at a cost people can afford?

The feasibility of exclusion will vary according to the output and may change seasonally. It may be easier to control access to honey, which requires specialized skills to harvest, than to fruits, which can be collected from the ground by any passerby. It may be easier to control wood cutting in a community forest during the hunting season when many people are in the forest and can watch out for illegal cutting than during the rainy season when people are occupied in their fields.

The feasibility of exclusion has an important impact on people’s incentives to care for a resource. In general, the more feasible it is to control access, the more the rights-holders feel that they have tenure security. That is, people believe that they will be able to gain the benefits of their property. When people feel that their tenure rights are secure, they are generally more willing to invest in improvements in the resource. In many cases, then, a higher feasibility of exclusion is associated with stronger incentives to nurture, protect and invest in a particular resource. In Maman’s case, during the time that he felt that he was secure in his tenure and believed that he would gain the benefits of the gawo trees he had planted, he was willing to invest a lot of time and energy in the trees. Once he realized that he could not keep other people out of his field and therefore risked losing the benefits of the trees, he gave up, deciding that it was no longer worth the effort.

A second important characteristic of the resource is called the nature of consumption. The nature of consumption refers to whether the consumption of the good issubtractive or joint.

Consumption is subtractive when one person consumes a good for a particular purpose, with the result that another person cannot use the same good. Person A has subtracted all or part of the good from the total available and this prevents Person B from using that same good. The consumption of many forest goods is subtractive. The poles produced by Maman’s gawo trees are an example. The individual who cut down Maman’s trees was able to benefit from their use; Maman was not. The consumption of leaves and fruit is also subtractive. If one animal consumes the leaves of a certain bush, no other animal or person will be able to eat them.

Determining the Nature of ConsumptionIn determining the nature of consumption of an output it is useful to ask certain questions.· Does the resource or resource system yield products that are harvested and then consumed by people or animals for food, housing, fencing, etc.?· If one person benefits from the output, can anyone else enjoy the benefits of the same output?· When one person benefits from these outputs, does it reduce the amount of benefit for anyone else?· Does the resource produce services, such as protecting against wind or water erosion, providing water storage or improving air quality, that are consumed jointly by many people?· Does the resource produce (as is often the case) a combination of harvested, subtractive goods and jointly consumed services?

In other cases, however, consumption of forest goods and services can be joint. This means that two or more people can benefit from the good or service at the same time without reducing the amount available for others. Consumption of such goods and services is non-subtractive. In Nepal, travelers’ trees are planted and maintained along the main walking trails between villages. Many people can sit and enjoy the shade and shelter provided by these trees without in any way reducing their benefits for other people. In the case of Garin Dan Djibo, there were some joint benefits of Maman’s and other farmers’ gawo trees. The trees were a service to the community in so far as they helped to reduce wind erosion, improve air quality, moderate temperature extremes and promote water infiltration and retention. Anyone in the immediate village area could benefit jointly from the improved microenvironment without reducing the benefits available for others. Joint benefits, which have effects that are often dispersed throughout a community, are often less tangible and harder to measure than subtractive ones.

The nature of consumption will vary according to the output. Often goods are subject to subtractive consumption, while services may be consumed jointly. This was the case of Maman’s gawo trees. One output (poles) was subject to subtractive consumption while others (reduced wind and water erosion) could be consumed jointly.

The nature of consumption, like the feasibility of exclusion, creates incentives and disincentives that influence the way people act toward resources. In general individuals are likely to feel a stronger incentive to protect resources from which they gain subtractive benefits. When the benefits are joint, and often less tangible, people may feel less of a personal stake in the resource, thinking that “someone else will take care of the problem.” Since a larger community often benefits from a resource that has joint benefits, protection of that resource may require organization at the community level. This would be the case, for example, for a windbreak erected along one side of the village. It is often harder to organize the maintenance of such a windbreak than to persuade people to water privately owned trees from which they will enjoy subtractive benefits.

Categorizing outputs: Private, toll, common pool, and public goods and services

Private goods and services
Toll goods and services
Common pool goods and services
Public goods and services

The analysis becomes more interesting and the incentives and disincentives to environmental protection more clear when the two resource characteristics described above are combined. In Table 1 on page 29, the feasibility of exclusion is on the vertical axis while the nature of consumption is on the horizontal axis. Goods and services belong in one of the four boxes depending on whether feasibility of exclusion is easy or difficult and whether consumption is subtractive or joint. The result is four classes of goods and services that may be used to categorize the outputs of tree and forest resources:·

 private goods and services;

 toll goods and services;

 common pool goods and services; and

 public goods and services.

The following sections treat these categories of goods and services in turn and consider how the characteristics of each type of good or service affect people’s incentives to protect and invest in the resource.

Table 1: Categorization of goods and services from trees and forests2

Private Goods and ServicesToll Goods and Services
FEASIBILITY of EXCLUSIONEASYcut and stored fuelwood and building poles, forest product medicines, trees in fenced gardens, etc.nature parks where entrance fee is charged for hiking, camping, tourism and wildlife viewing, etc.
Common Pool Goods and ServicesPublic Goods and Services
DIFFICULTbrowse on trees/bushes and fruits fallen from trees in unfenced fields and woods, wildlife, fish in streams and lakes etc.air quality, environmental duality, shade, protection of biological diversity, protection that trees provide against wind,: water erosion, etc.

2 Adapted from Ostrom, V. & Ostrom, E., 1977.

Private goods and services

When the feasibility of exclusion is easy and consumption is subtractive, an output is described as a private good or service. If a tree can be protected from outsiders it is likely that most of its tangible outputs fall into this category. This would include building poles, fuelwood, medicines, fruits, nuts and other forest products. It is also possible to have a private service. The shade from a gawo tree in the middle of a farmer’s field is an example of a private service: it buffers crops planted near it and helps the soil retain its moisture during a drought. These benefits accrue only to the farmer who plants the land under the tree.

When there is high demand for a private good or service and this demand exceeds supply, potential users will compete for the limited supply.

This competition for resources, which often results in higher prices for the good, creates strong incentives for people to become producers of the goods that are in short supply. When access can be controlled and the benefits are subtractive, those who plant or protect trees are able to realize a profit, whether the trees are used for fuelwood, fruit and nut crops, building materials or traditional medicines.

Toll goods and services

When the feasibility of exclusion is relatively easy (as with a private good) but consumption of benefits is joint rather than subtractive, then the output is known as a toll good or service. Parks and game reserves are examples of toll goods or services. Access can be controlled to these areas at reasonable cost, and many of the outputs can be shared among numerous users. These outputs include the possibility of watching and photographing animals, and camping in beautiful surroundings. The demand for services and the ability to exclude those who do not pay for the services create an incentive to establish these parks and enable the owners to earn profits from their investment. In this way toll goods and services are similar to private goods and services: there is an incentive for entrepreneurs to invest in these products, and they do not necessarily require collective action (even though governments often do create and run parks).

Common pool goods and services

When the consumption of benefits is subtractive (as with private goods) but the feasibility of exclusion is difficult, then the output is known as a common pool good or service. Maman’s gawo poles were an example of a common pool good. He could not keep people out of his field (at least not at a reasonable cost) and once the herder had cut the saplings, his animals had browsed the fallen branches and others had taken the stems for building poles, Maman could not use the trees for anything else.

The case study notes that farmers living in Garin Dan Djibo have small herds of goats and cattle. During the dry season the goats are left free to graze on the empty fields. The shrub and tree leaves on which they graze thus become a common pool good. Since access to the resource is not controlled, the goat owners capture the benefits of their goats’ consumption and they have an incentive to increase the number of goats as much as they can. As all the owners increase their herd size, seeking private benefit, the goats may begin to damage or destroy the vegetation. In a case such as this, the private benefit exists at a cost to the larger group of users and the owners of the resource. This is often a problem in the governance of common pool resources.

The products of community forests (fuelwood, medicinal products, nuts, browse) have the characteristics of common pool goods when it is difficult to exclude outsiders from the benefits of these forests. In cases where it is difficult to control access to common pool resources and to regulate their use, individuals do not generally feel an incentive to protect these resources. Rather, if they want to use common pool products they have an incentive to use as much as they can as fast they can before someone else does. In cases such as Maman’s, where the resources are not easily subject to exclusion, the owners may simply decide that it is not worth investing in these goods since they are not sure of reaping the benefits. This is known as a ‘free-rider’ problem because some people obtain benefits from others’ efforts without making an investment in the effort. Hence when demand exceeds supply, common pool resources pose a particular kind of problem that requires active governance to solve.

Public goods and services

Public goods and services are those that have low feasibility of exclusion and are consumed jointly. As seen above, both of these factors tend to discourage private investment in the resource. Since people’s individual interests do not usually favour good management of public goods, it often requires a high level of community organization and effective governance to ensure sustain-able management of these goods.

Reduced wind erosion is an example of a public service to which all have uncontrolled joint access. Adequate tree and bush cover on land exposed to strong winds will reduce wind erosion. The benefits of the tree cover will be enjoyed by many people in addition to the individual or family that planted or cared for the trees, since all the land within the wind shadow of the trees will remain productive longer than if the trees were not there.

What are the implications in terms of incentives for individuals? Since it is nearly impossible to exclude people from using land within the wind shadow, those who invest in trees to reduce erosion have no way to recoup their investments by demanding that people pay for access to reduced wind. If some farmers like Maman take the trouble to plant trees, others whose fields lie within the wind shadow will benefit from the public service of reduced wind erosion even if they are not willing to plant trees themselves. This is another form of the ‘free-rider’ problem noted above.

People have an incentive, as described above in the private goods category, to invest in trees from which they can harvest a private good such as poles, leaves or fruit. The incentive is much weaker when the output is a public good or service such as reduced wind erosion. If the direct benefits to the individual farmer are few (even if the overall benefits to the village would be many if many people planted trees) then people collectively may not show much interest in maintaining trees on their fields. Even when the direct benefits are appreciable many people may refuse to invest because they do not want others to ‘ride free’ on their efforts.

This is why economists note that when provision of public goods and services is left to private effort supplies are generally inadequate to meet demand. ‘Underprovision’ is the norm. People may well want better air quality, but acting solely as individuals they will not invest enough to get the better air that they all want. To obtain what they want, people need to get together, identify the public good or service that they desire and then organize collective action to obtain it. A village might decide that in order to deal with a severe wind erosion problem every family should plant 10 trees per hectare over a five-year period. If all the villagers know that there is an enforceable rule requiring every family to plant trees, they are more likely to comply. They are less likely to comply if they fear that they alone are investing the effort and that the main people to benefit will be their neighbours downwind who will not take the trouble to plant trees themselves.

Implications for resource management

The distinctions between private, common pool, toll and public resources are critical. They help to explain why in some situations people are willing to invest in managing resources sustainably while in others those same people will act in ways that are harmful to their resource base by increasing their herd sizes, for example, or by overharvesting their forest resources.

A first step for communities and development practitioners who are working together to improve the management of their forest resources is to identify the resources and outputs that present problems. There are numerous indicators of resource problems. One indicator is a notable deterioration in the quantity or quality of a resource. Villagers may notice that there are fewer varieties of medicinal plants than ill the past. The forester may observe that certain species of useful trees are not regenerating as they should. Both groups may be concerned by evidence of soil erosion. Another indicator of a problem area is the incidence of conflicts over tree or forest resources. Maman’s anger over the theft of his gawo poles is a case in point. Disputes over the theft of fruit or the poaching of wood in a community woodlot are other conflicts that signal potentially important resource management problems.

Once the resource and outputs involved in the problem have been identified, the framework outlined above can be used to categorize the outputs according to types of goods and services and then to determine what incentives follow. What are the incentives to manage the resource sustainably? What are the incentives to exploit the resource without regard to its sustain-ability?

This will also be useful in determining what type of response is needed to change incentives and people’s behaviour. This will vary considerably depending on the type of resource and output involved. In the case of a private good, where the individual reaps most of the benefits, the forester may be able to persuade people to plant more trees simply by informing them (if they do not already know) of the benefits. If villagers have places to plant trees where they can exclude unauthorized users the community forester might be able to inform them about species of mangoes that produce in the off-season when few fruits are available. Once they have this information individuals may eagerly invest in these varieties of mango. If the trees have the characteristics of private goods, people will feel secure that they will enjoy the benefits of their investment.

In the case of a common pool or public good, individual incentives alone are unlikely to lead people to invest because, as in Maman’s case, they are not sure of recouping the benefits. In this case a broader community strategy may be required to modify the incentive structure so that people will be more likely to invest and will feel more secure that they will recoup the benefits of their investment. This is where it becomes important to study the community (Chapter 4) to see whether it has the capacity and desire to organize collective activities to promote better resource use.

There are many ways in which individuals and communities can modify the incentives related to resources in an effort to change behaviour and improve governance. Sometimes they involve taking a resource that is categorized as ‘difficult’ (common pool or public) and doing something that will make it more of a private or toll resource so that people will have a stronger incentive to protect and nurture it. Fencing may make a common pool resource that had low feasibility of exclusion into a toll or private resource for which access to benefits can be controlled. Dividing the responsibility for trees in a woodlot and guaranteeing that individuals who care for the trees will have rights to at least some of the output mimics the incentives for a private good and thus increases the chance that people will invest in maintaining the resource.

This chapter has discussed the set of incentives related to the characteristic of the resource or, more precisely, the output. The Guidelines Box on the following page focuses on practical suggestions for evaluating resource incentives before returning to the case study where these issues are dealt with in the context of Garin Dan Djibo.

Guidelines for Implementing an institutional Analysis: Studying the Characteristics of the ResourceThe purpose of this part of the Study is to identify incentives to behaviour that are related to the characteristics of the resource.1. Identify the outputs (goods or services) of the resource that are causing the conflictual or problematic situation (or, in some cases, the lack of outputs).2. Determine whether access to the output in question is easy to control or difficult to control.3. Determine whether the output is a subtractive good (in which one persons consumption necessarily diminishes the quantity available to the next potential user) or whether it permits joint consumption (in which many people may use the resource without diminishing the amount available to others).The information needed to classify resources can be obtained by and discussion with various people. This can be done most effectively by actually visiting the sites and observing what happens around the resources. If livestock are roaming freely without herders in wooded and cultivated areas, it is likely that the resources are common pool and that access to them is open during that season. If fields or individual trees within fields are fenced, it is more likely that the resources have the characteristics of private goods. It may also be useful to do participatory mapping with the local population to understand more dearly where the resources under study are located in relation to other significant factors. How close are they to areas inhabited by local people, or by people from neighbouring villages? Are they close to public passageways? Are they concentrated in one or a few areas or are they widely dispersed?4. Classify the output(s) according to Table 1 on page 29 into one of the following categories: private good, toll good, common pool good or public good.In classifying the resource, do so without regard to the rules (the rule-related aspects of exclusion will be addressed in Chapter 5). Focus on whether exclusion is easy or difficult and whether consumption is joint or subtractive, given the location of the resources and any available technologies (such as fencing) that allow the community to control access to trees and forest resources.5. In light of this classification identify the Incentives of community members to use the resource either sustainably or unsustainably.In analysing incentives it may be helpful to keep in mind that in general higher feasibility of exclusion tends to result in stronger incentives for individuals to produce and maintain resources when demand exceeds supply. Private incentives to invest in producing or maintaining resources also tend to be stronger when the output is subtractive. In cases where the incentives created by the characteristics of the resource are insufficient to protect and maintain those resources as desired by the community, the collectivity may decide to create additional incentives by changing the rules governing resource access and use.

Case Study: Analysis of resource characteristics in Garin Dan Djibo

The extension agent who had met Maman returning from the fields spent several days mulling over the sad scene he had witnessed and asking himself why he had ever entered such a dismal profession. He thought about his brother’s suggestion several years earlier that he join him in a business venture in the capital city and wondered why he had not taken him up on the offer. He despaired of ever accomplishing anything in these remote villages. For several days his thoughts were dominated by these pessimistic ruminations. One afternoon, while sipping mint tea behind the extension office, he got into a conversation with one of his colleagues in the forestry department and described his frustrations. The colleague shared his dismay but begged the extension agent not to give up his career and move to the city. By the third glass of tea they had vented most of their frustrations and the discussion began to take a more positive tone as they wondered together whether there was anything they could do to change the situation.The extension agent and the forester decided to revisit Garin Dan Djibo, discuss what had happened with Maman and then try to work out some solution with the villagers. The forester proposed that they try some of the techniques he had learned recently at a workshop. He briefly sketched out the approach for his friend, explaining that they would have to get more information about the resources that were part of the management problem, about the community and its capacity for collective action, and about the rules system at work. With this information in hand they hoped they would be able to collaborate with the village to work out new resource governance arrangements that would protect the investments of farmers like Maman.Maman, for his part, spent a similarly dismal several days pondering his wasted efforts and wondering whether he should take up an offer his uncle had made several years ago to join him in a radio repair venture he had set up in Abidjan. His wife was horrified at this idea, however, and cried out that she would rather remain poor in the village, where at least they were together and had food to eat, than lose her husband for she did not know how long to a distant and to her mind dangerous city. Discouraged and confronted with this family dilemma, Maman was surprised not long afterward to see the extension agent and local forester approaching his compound. He did not even want to talk about those wretched gawotrees, but in the tradition of the region he welcomed his guests warmly and they were soon discussing the situation over the requisite glasses of steaming tea.Three glasses later, Maman was convinced that they should at least try to find a solution to his problem. The forester had persuaded him that this would benefit not only him but also other villagers both in Garin Dan Djibo and the surrounding area. If successful, such an initiative could have an important impact on the environment. Maman knew that there were at least a few other people in the village, and particularly in his neighbourhood, who knew about his problem and were concerned that a solution be found. They finished their tea, bought some kola nuts at the tiny shop near the centre of the village and set off together to talk to the chief of the village.The chief was frail and elderly, the oldest man in the village. As soon as he heard that visitors were approaching he sent his younger wife to tell two of his closest peers on the Council of Elders to join him in the meeting. They arrived after a few minutes and after introductions and the presentation of the kola nuts Maman and his visitors explained the situation. The chief and elders listened carefully, occasionally interjecting questions or comments.The chief was particularly concerned that Maman had not informed him earlier of the problem and expressed anger that he had heard about the damaged trees only through rumours that had been circulating in the village. Maman apologized, explaining that since he did not know who had cut the trees but suspected that it was a passing herder, he had thought there was not much that could be done about it. The chief and elders agreed that the forester could discuss the issue with the village, though they noted that it was difficult to get all the villagers together. They promised to inform the rest of the population of the situation and to try to identify some people who might want to work on the issue with the forester. The forester said that the team would study the issue and eventually present findings and proposals to the village concerning what might be done.As they were leaving, the chief asked the forester what they should do about problems in their village woodlot. It had been set up nearly 20 years earlier by a previous extension agent who was working at the time with a project that had long since left the area. The villagers did not know whom the trees belonged to or who was allowed to cut them. The forester explained that the techniques they would be using to study the gawo issue could also be used to find a better management strategy for the woodlot. He suggested, however, that they first work on the gawo question and then examine the woodlot problem at a later date.Formation of the CommitteeOver the next few weeks a committee was put in place to work with the forester and extension agent. Two elders with a long history of concern for environmental issues in the community indicated an interest in participating and each of the village’s three neighbourhoods also chose two people to work on the problem. Maman was one of the representatives from his neighbourhood. The forester at first suggested that one man and one woman be chosen as neighbourhood representatives, but the villagers persuaded him that since the issue concerned the trees on men’s fields the men would be more interested in participating than the women. By then the rains had started and farmers were all busy with fieldwork, so the team decided to put off any further activities until after the harvest. They agreed to set aside a two-week period after the sale of the groundnut crop to work with the extension agent and forester to analyse the gawo tree issue and propose possible solutions to the rest of the village.In late November the team gathered. The forester proposed a plan, explaining the kinds of information they would gather and suggesting different ways to collect it. He proposed that they carry out a modified Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), using a range of techniques to collect the information that might include interviewing other villagers, holding a few group meetings at which issues would be discussed and using tools such as Venn Diagrams and historical matrices to analyse relevant issues. Since herders from outside the village also had a stake in the issue, the team decided that half of its members would travel with the forester to a village some 15 km away where the herders congregated to water their animals at a tubewell. They would hold discussions with herders to get their perspective on the issue. Several men on the committee expressed concern that they could not devote two full weeks to the study because they had other tasks they needed to accomplish. The group decided to work from Thursday to Sunday for two consecutive weeks and then evaluate where they were in the process, working a few days into the third week if necessary.On their first day together the forester explained the principles and tools of PRA, and the group sat down to draft objectives concerning what it wanted to learn about the situation. Over the next two weeks the committee and the forester, with occasional participation from the extension agent, gathered information about resources, the community and the rules systems at work in addition to other relevant information. (The information collected about each of these topics will be presented following the chapter in which the topic is addressed.)Analysis of Gawo CharacteristicsOnce the information had been collected the team members began to organize it into the categories they had outlined from the beginning: information about the resource, the community and its rules system. Following the forester’s guidance, they began by looking at the characteristics of the gawo tree and what those characteristics implied for the management problem they faced. They noted first that trees on fields close to the village rarely, if ever, suffered damage from cutting because people could easily see who was in the fields. Herders did not usually come so close to the village since they risked damaging gardens and otherwise getting into conflicts with the villagers. By long tradition in the area, however, after the fields were harvested they were open for grazing by both village and outside cattle. This meant that both local herders and strangers often passed through the outer fields of the village. Because these fields were out of sight of the inhabited part of the village, it was far more difficult to control what happened in these fields. So the team concluded that the gawos in question were in the category of a resource to which it was difficult to control access.There was considerable discussion over the benefits of the gawo and how they should be classified in the schema proposed by the forester. All agreed from their own experiences in seeing the impact of gawo trees on their own crops that there were clear private benefits from the tree. Several team members were more skeptical about the public benefits, such as reducing wind and soil erosion. Maman suggested that they talk to the farmer whose fields were adjacent to his. The farmer confirmed that indeed his fields had produced somewhat better crops since Maman’s trees had matured. This personal testimonial convinced the previously skeptical team members that the tree could produce both subtractive benefits and (particularly if it grew more thickly) joint benefits but that most of the relevant benefits for the purpose of their study were subtractive ones.Given these characteristics (difficulty of exclusion and predominantly subtractive benefits), the team concluded that the gawos in question should be considered common pool goods. This conformed with what they already knew of the case: private incentives would probably be insufficient to persuade people to invest in the resource. Indeed they had Maman’s experience as a case in point and could see that he had been discouraged from putting any more effort into protecting gawo trees because he could not control the distribution of benefits.The team members were excited that the pieces of this resource puzzle were beginning to come together and make some sense. They were also beginning to see how they could carry out the same type of analysis to address the problems in their community woodlot. First, however, they were eager to continue their study of the gawo problem in hopes of finding some solution. They felt that this was all the more important since some members of the team who had not paid much attention to gawo before were becoming more interested as the study progressed. They wanted to find a solution at least partly so that they themselves could begin protecting gawo in their own fields! Their next step, then, was to think about their own community and how it might best organize a solution to the problem.

CDP 7:2

Published by: Eaugrads

Evangelical Alumni Foundation seeks to fulfill "The Great Commandment and The Great Commission" to GOD's great economy. Each of us has great purpose as Sons of God. We are many in one body. Together, we are firmly planted by streams of water to bear fruits in all seasons. We shall not lack no good thing. Deuteronomy 1:11 God's Spiritual Billionaire's! Brief about our founder of Eaugrads: "JESUS"... "His pursuit of us is Relentless, His desire to Fight on our behalf is never ending; Despite the day to day distractions, designed to stop us from reaching our destinies, we can be sure of this... what God starts; He Finishes." Amen! Ministered By Tanya Harris, LLD

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