CDP 7:3

Chapter 4: The characteristics of the community and resource management incentives


Key characteristics of the community
Implications for community forestry projects
Case study: Analysis of community in Garin Dan Djibo


Chapter 3 dealt with the characteristics of goods and services provided by tree and forest resources, noting that certain characteristics are more likely to encourage nurturing behaviour toward these resources, while others encourage more rapacious exploitation. By understanding these characteristics and where necessary modifying the incentives that result in poor management, communities and foresters can follow the most promising paths to improving local resource management. Chapter 3 also highlighted the need for efforts by community governments to govern resources that produce either common pool or public goods and services. This is because individual incentives will not be sufficient to provide the desired level of investment in these resources.

This chapter considers the communities within which these resource governance and management efforts take place. Just as the resources themselves have characteristics that encourage more or less sustainable management practices, communities also have different characteristics that result in varying incentives affecting how people manage resources. In some communities, for example, there is a powerful sense of unity that generates pressure to conform to established norms. Group pressure may play an important role in getting people to engage in an activity like tree planting, or in persuading them to protect a sacred grove. In other communities the tendency to divisiveness may be an equally powerful influence. There may be two factions in the community, for example, and whatever the merit of an initiative taken by the first faction, the second will automatically refuse to participate and will actively seek ways to sabotage the initiative.

A key factor that determines a community’s ability to manage resources is its social cohesion and willingness to set and strive for common goals. This does not mean that the community must be homogeneous (although this often helps). Indeed there are many communities of people with the same ethnicity, religion, family history, etc., that are deeply divided. Conversely there are many heterogeneous communities made up of people of varying backgrounds who are nevertheless able to overcome their differences in order to work toward common objectives. The key issue is whether the community is able to establish common goals, establish strategies for accomplishing those goals and then work together to follow the strategy that has been proposed.

Several characteristics of the community can give clues to the degree of its social cohesion and anticipate problems that may arise. These characteristics include the history of the community and its relations with others, its present social structure, its cultural values and the way it governs itself. These and other characteristics will be discussed later in the chapter. These characteristics in turn provide incentives or disincentives in several areas related to resource management. They include: (1) incentives to cooperate (or not to cooperate) in resource governance, (2) incentives to obey (or disobey) resource management rules, and (3) incentives to include the needs of future generations in resource management strategies (or to govern resources for short-term gain).

Once field workers have analysed the key characteristics of the community (outlined below) and identified the incentives to resource management (as outlined in the following chapter), they will be in a much better position to answer two important questions.·

 Does a community have characteristics that will enable people working together to engage in cooperative ventures to manage tree and forest resources, or are project activities more realistically limited to those that can be accomplished by individuals?

· What level is most appropriate for collective action? This may be an entire village, or it may be a subgroup within the village (for example, a neighbourhood, caste or clan or religious or ethnic group) if these subgroups have a greater ability to work together. In some cases it may even be a larger conglomeration of several villages or communities.

Key characteristics of the community


Historical factors
Social factors
Economic factors
Cultural factors


The characteristics discussed below are some that may be useful in identifying incentives to good resource management in communities. The list in no way attempts to be comprehensive since there are innumerable characteristics that might in different circumstances play a role in communities’ abilities to work together on resource management activities. Nor are the categories intended to be mutually exclusive. One might list ethnicity or language under cultural factors just as well as under social factors, where they are placed in this analysis. The categories are simply a convenience that may help in thinking through some of the issues that are likely to be among the most important determinants of social cohesion and the ability to collaborate on forestry activities.

Historical factors

Communities are a product of their past: current development activities take place against a historical backdrop. Historical factors may hinder or help the implementation of community forestry projects; what is undisputable is that they will have some impact on the success of those projects.

Among the historical factors that play a key role in community cohesion and resource management are:·

 population and settlement history; and
·

 conflict history.

The population history reflects the ancestral origins of the community. In some cases all present members of the village may be descended from a single ancestor or family. This may be an important factor in current social cohesion. In other cases families may have divided or new families may have joined the community. If so, it is important to try to understand the basis on which the more recent members were admitted into the community.

The sequential arrival of families, lineages and clans may give rise to distinctions between founders and first settlers on the one hand, and later arrivals or even ‘stranger’ families on the other. Alternatively some founding families can be subjugated by later, more numerous and more powerful arrivals. Whatever their relative status, the two groups often view public issues quite differently. Their resource use patterns often reflect attempts to overcome perceived injustices in the historical distribution of resources. Newcomers may attempt to use a community forestry project to gain access to resources otherwise denied them. Founding families may try to use the project to maintain their traditional dominance. These are examples of historically based incentives influencing certain behaviours that can affect the implementation of community forestry activities.

The community’s experience with conflict and the way it has managed conflict in the past greatly influence its present degree of social cohesion and its willingness to engage in cooperative resource management activities. Old cases of land tenure disputes, violent confrontations and contested divorces or adultery may appear to have been settled, but they may leave a residue of resentment in the community. Past conflicts often determine trust levels between members of the community and the willingness of the population to delegate decisions or responsibilities to subgroups or individuals. Bitterness that has existed for decades, even centuries, may create strong disincentives to collective action. At the very least such old sources of conflict may make arriving at a consensus very time-consuming and may even make it impossible.

Social factors

There are numerous issues related to the social structure of the community that affect its cohesion and the kinds of interests different groups may wish to protect as they seek solutions to resource management problems. Some of the most salient include:·

 ethnicity and language;
·

 family structure;
·

 caste and other social divisions; and
·

 gender relations.

While ethnicity is not necessarily a divisive factor in communities, it certainly can have a divisive effect. It may be compounded by other issues such as the ways different ethnic groups pursue their livelihoods. One ethnic group may make its living principally from herding, for example, while another practises cultivation or fishing.

Other potentially divisive factors include religion and language. In each of these cases a key question is whether a particular local population’s allegiances lie primarily with the community in which it lives, or whether it identifies more closely with interests outside the community. A particular religious sect, for example, may be more readily prepared to follow directives of its religious leader than to follow.- directives from within the community. Some ethnic groups may feel greater affinity to people of their own ethnicity who live outside the community than to their immediate neighbours. In such cases community organization for the purpose of governing resources can be difficult. In other cases, however, this is not an issue and all the inhabitants of a community share overriding common interests despite their differences. Sometimes the divisive factors work primarily inside a community. Factions within the community may be organized according to affiliation with a religion, caste or ethnic group. Even when they do not have strong ties outside the village, these factions can have different interests and concerns that make collective action more difficult.

Family structures often play an important role in creating or limiting social cohesiveness. When intermarriage is common in a community, a vast network of relationships is created that may (but does not necessarily) contribute to a common sense of identity and purpose. This is less likely to take place when other factors such as caste, ethnicity, cultural taboos or family histories discourage such intermarriage.

Gender considerations are also a key to understanding whether communities will be able to organize action in response to some of the more complex resource governance problems. It is clear that both men and women need to be integrally involved in resource management whenever, as is usually the case, both are active participants in the harvesting, transformation and use of tree products. If one group (more often women) feels that its interests are not represented when decisions are made about rules for resource access or use, it is less likely to follow the rules and to participate in enforcing them. Conversely if both men and women feel that their concerns are reflected in resource governance agreements, they will have a stronger incentive to participate in making the management plans work.

Economic factors

The preceding section described several social factors that can affect whether members of a community are more willing or less willing to work together to solve their resource management concerns. Economic factors can also play a role in determining whether people have similar or divergent interests concerning how resources should be managed. Two salient issues are:·

 differences or similarities in livelihood strategies; and.
·

 the degree of economic stratification in the community.

People’s perceptions of resources and their attitudes toward those resources will differ depending on how resources fit into their individual livelihood strategies. Some people may depend almost entirely on tree and plant resources. This would be the case of someone who specializes in the preparation of medicines or teas from plants, for example, or a charcoal maker. For others tree products may be an important input into their activities if they use tree products to feed animals or to provide fencing or fuel-wood. Others, such as shopkeepers, may have relatively little direct use for tree products.

These economic interests provide various incentives to protect, invest in and exploit tree resources. As an agriculturist Maman had an incentive to protect and maintain trees in his field in order to promote crop productivity. On the other hand the herder who cut his trees had an incentive to lop off branches for animal feed and was not concerned with what happened to the soil under the gawo trees he cut. Both of them were trying to look out for their families’ economic well-being, but with dramatically different effects on the sustainable use of resources.

People’s interest in the resource base also varies depending on their level of economic well-being. There is now considerable evidence to suggest that poor people often depend more heavily on forest resources to meet their subsistence needs than do people who are more wealthy. Poor people, for example, may not be able to afford gas for cooking or modern pharmaceuticals. Instead they depend on forest products for fuel and medicine. Because of this they may face very different incentives for their own use of resources and they may have strong opinions about what the rules for access and exploitation should be. As with the gender considerations above, if these concerns are not reflected in the management plans devised by the community, the incentives for some groups not to comply with the regulations are likely to be strong.

The success of many collective community forestry activities depends on people’s perceptions that they want to stay in a community and are willing to make investments in it. Conversely if they expect to leave (or think that their children will do so) their interests may be divergent from those of the rest of the community. In such cases they may even destroy forestry resources in order to finance their departure.

Cultural factors

Many cultural factors affect the incentives people face in protecting and exploiting their tree and forest resources. Some of them are related to religion. People sometimes believe in the power of a religious item such as a fetish or the Quran or other holy book to seek out and punish transgressors of local rules regarding tree use or activities in forests. Such beliefs may reduce the need to monitor the behaviour of local people although there may still be a need to use other means to control access by people who do not accept these beliefs.

Cultural beliefs also play a profound role in people’s sense of ownership of resources. In some communities it is unthinkable that an individual might be considered the owner of a tree or forest since people believe that those resources are only in the temporary stewardship of the current generation, which manages them on behalf of the ancestors and future generations. This creates incentives that are very different from those in another culture where people believe that trees can be property like anything else, and that the owner has absolute rights to decide what should be done with that property.

Implications for community forestry projects

Different characteristics of communities, then, provide different incentives to work collectively and to follow rules that are established. Various community characteristics also create incentives that influence people’s decisions on whether they will seek the greatest immediate personal gain from resources or be willing to manage those resources for some greater community good or even take future generations into consideration as they plan their resource use.

Analysing these incentives is not easy since communities are complex and dynamic. Most of the factors discussed here are not immediately evident. Counting the number of tree species in a village may be rather easy; understanding the criteria by which leaders are selected or the nature of gender relations requires more sensitive and probing investigation. Community foresters whose training and experience are mainly technical will probably want to enlist the aid of someone with a social science orientation to collaborate on this part of the study.

Assessing Community CohesionAll of these issues lead up to the key question: can people who inhabit the same community work together effectively, if the characteristics of the resource require it, to make a success of a community forestry activity? The first issue to assess is whether it is the cohesive factors or the divisive factors in the community that seem to be stronger. In any community there will be some divisive factors. The question is whether there are; also cohesive factors that enable people to overcome their differences in order to engage in collective action.

The community’s past experience with collective action is one good indicator of whether people will be able to work together for better tree and forest resource governance. If people have tried to manage some resource or issue in common and have been successful, the incentives to attempt a natural resource management plan will be stronger than if they had no previous experience or if their previous efforts were unsuccessful. Previous collective action may include anything from building or managing a school to maintaining a trail network or irrigation system in the village or implementing a community vaccination program. If none of these types of activities have been attempted, another positive indicator may be a community’s ability to organize religious or cultural activities (if all the groups within the community are included).

The various indicators of social cohesion will help to determine whether it is worthwhile to attempt collective action at the community level. If the divisive factors are much stronger than the cohesive factors, a collective activity at the community level will probably not be successful. In this case the project will have to investigate whether the collective activity that was determined to be important in the resource analysis can be undertaken at another level, for example within a neighbourhood or herders’ association. In some cases it may be evident that the community (or groups within the community) is not well suited to undertake collective action at the present time. Although this conclusion may be a disappointing one, it is better to find another community to work in, where the chances of success are higher, than to put resources into a community forestry activity that is almost certain to fail. In such communities it may still be possible to undertake a limited number of activities that do not require collective action and can be carried out by individuals.

If it appears that the community is cohesive enough to engage in collective action for community forestry, there is another use for the information gathered in the community profile. As noted above, even in the most homogeneous or cohesive communities there are always divergent interests. If stakeholders’ interests are identified from the outset the project can help ensure that these various concerns are taken into account as activities are planned and implemented. People’s incentives to follow and participate in a community resource management plan will be stronger when they feel that their interests and concerns are represented in that plan. The importance of including stakeholders in the decision-making process will be addressed further in Chapter 5. On the basis of this discussion of the characteristics of communities and how they affect incentives for the way people manage their local resources, the Guidelines Box shows how these issues might be addressed in practice. The chapter ends in Garin Dan Djibo where the issues are illustrated by studying the case of Maman, his friends and his neighbours.

Guidelines for Implementing an Institutional Analysis: Studying the Characteristics of the CommunityThe purpose of this part of the study is to understand better the factors that will contribute to or inhibit a community’s ability to engage in collective action to improve resource governance. Many of the tools suggested here are from the PRA toolkit, which is described in Appendix 1.1. Gather information on the history of the community, orienting the questions around resource governance issues.This type of information can be gathered in a historical profile, which is a semi-structured interview that focuses on such key issues as settlement history, conflicts over resources and their resolution (or non-resolution), and evidence of collective action. This activity should be carried out with people who are known for their historical knowledge. In cases where there is a disagreement about major facts or their interpretation it may be necessary to interview people who represent each side of the issue in order to get their different perspectives on the problem.Another highly useful tool for gathering historical information related to resource governance and use is the historical matrix. This can focus on issues such as how resource use has changed over time, whether biological diversity has increased or decreased, and what conflicts have been most common.2. Gather information on the social structure of the village as it relates to resource governance questions.This type of information can be gathered by using various tools and conducting informal discussions with different segments of the population. One of the most useful tools will be the Venn Diagram, which uses coloured papers to identify groups and individuals both inside and outside the community who play particular roles in resource management. The Venn Diagram will probably focus on such issues as who makes and enforces various rules affecting community life, who negotiates conflicts and how people outside the community affect the governance of local resources.3. Gather information on different socio-economic categories in the village and the implications for resource use.Carrying out a wealth ranking, using bean piles is a useful way of focusing on socio-economic issues and is often less sensitive than direct interviewing on this topic. Once the different wealth categories have been determined using the bean technique, a follow-up interview provides the opportunity to ask about whether people in different wealth groups have similar or divergent resource use patterns. For more detailed information on the diverse perspectives of different groups, individual or family interviews can be scheduled with families from different socio-economic categories.An alternative method for focusing on different resource use patterns is to do a matrix of resource use that distinguishes among the different use patterns of men/women, rich/aver-age/poor, insiders/outsiders, etc. Follow-up interviews can then attempt to discern why differences exist and what concerns these different stakeholders have about how the resources are governed.4. Gather information on diverse cultural factors that unite or divide the community.This information is often best obtained by the most informal means, that is observation and relatively unstructured discussion with individuals. The existence of animist, Hindu or Buddhist shrines, sacred groves, mosques and churches, etc., will give an idea of the cultural setting. People’s cloches, hair styles jewellery and other adornments and tattoos or facial scars may reveal differences in ethnicity, caste and class. People may be more or less willing to discuss these cultural issues, especially if they are conflictual, and it may be necessary to take the time to gain peopled confidence Wore these subjects are openly discussed, in most cases if resistance is encountered It is better to shift topics rather than to press a point that may cause tension either within the community or in the outsider’s relationship with community members5. In light of all the information gathered above inventory (1) those factors which contribute to the cohesiveness of the community and Its ability to come to an agreement On resource management issues and (2) those factors which are likely to make collective action, whether to create or to enforce rules and procedures, more difficult.6. To the extent external stakeholders are also concerned with the issue, analyse their interests, motivations and constraints.External stakeholders can include neighbouring populations and nomadic peoples who use the resources on an intermittent basis They can also include government officials or agencies at different levels that play a role in resource governance, staff of projects active in the area and commercial’ Interests. The analysis needs to consider the perspective of each of these stakeholders and analyse the incentives that influence their behaviour, what interests are they trying to strengthen or protect? What motivations do they have to change or not to change the way they do things?

Case study: Analysis of community in Garin Dan Djibo

Garin Dan Djibo is one of the older villages in the region. It was established in its current location some six generations (about 150 years) ago. The founders were three brothers who established the neighbourhoods that continue to be the basis of social and political organization in the village today. All the current inhabitants of the village, with the exception of a few temporary residents who have particular commercial interests there (the shopkeeper and the manager of the peanut warehouse, for example), are descended from a common ancestor. They are not divided by differences in language, ethnicity or religion but over the years various disputes between families have led to rather deep divisions within village society. With each dispute the village has found it more difficult to come to agreement on issues that cross neighbourhood boundaries, and over time the neighbourhood leadership has become increasingly strong in relation to the village leaders.The chief of the village is the oldest male in the village. He is advised by a Council of Elders comprised of the two oldest males from each of the three neighbourhoods. The previous chief, despite his many years, was a strong leader to the end and was able to effectively moderate fictional disputes among the neighbourhoods. After his death some three and one-half years ago the current chief took over. He is much less effective and is widely (but quietly) criticized for favouring his own neighbourhood when differences arise. As a result, the other two neighbourhoods have taken measures to ensure that as few disputes as possible rise to the level where the chief has to respond. Though he did not say so, this is one reason why Maman had been reluctant to bring his gawo problem to the attention of the chief.Many of the villagers of Garin Dan Djibo own a few cattle and, particularly, sheep and goats. They do not herd their own cattle, however, but turn them over to specialist herders who live outside the village and practice a semi-nomadic lifestyle in the region. These herders have their bases in small hamlets scattered around the area where two or three families live together. During the wet season the entire family lives in these hamlets where they cultivate a few crops. During the dry season the women, some of the men and the children remain in the hamlets with their sheep and goats while the male herders migrate around the region, with their own cattle as well as those they look after for others, in search of water and the best pastures. The herders have strong governance mechanisms but these are all non-formal. They are nevertheless effective at allocating water rights, resolving disputes as they arise, etc. In addition they gather at various water points in the district where they share information and use services such as the governments animal vaccination programme.The relationship between the semi-nomadic herder population and the sedentary village population is for the most part mutually beneficial. There are cases, however, where the different requirements of their livelihoods create conflicts, such as those that arose over Maman’s gawo trees.The government officials nearest Garin Dan Djibo are located at the canton office about 15 km away. This is where the forester and extension agent are based. The villagers’ relationships with the extension agents are good for the most part. Agents who make the effort to travel to the village generally enjoy a positive reception and are given a good hearing. The villagers’ opinions of the administrative officials are more ambivalent. These officials are perceived as representing the government’s, rather than local, interests, and villagers feel that often their concerns are not represented. As a result they avoid bringing issues to the administrative authorities whenever possible. Most of their contact is limited, occurring when they are summoned for an infraction of official rules or non-payment of taxes.The eight-person team studying the gawo problem in Garin Dan Djibo was at first reluctant to discuss many of the issues that were most important to the community analysis, especially in front of an outsider such as the forester. No one wanted to bring up the hostilities among the neighbourhoods, for example, or their somewhat negative feelings toward administrative officials. The forester was gradually able to overcome this reticence, however, by bringing up examples from other villages and focusing on the positive aspects of the local situation. Rather than dwelling on the divisions in the village as a handicap, he instead emphasized the strengths of the neighbourhood organizations. Once the team members began to see the utility of a frank examination of these community issues, they were much more willing to discuss openly both their strengths and weaknesses.Drawing on their analysis of the community, the gawo study team focused on several incentives and disincentives to community action in resolving the problem. First the team members noted that given past history it was unlikely that a solution requiring a high level of community organization would work. Realistically there was little hope that people from the different neighbourhoods would set aside their differences over this issue, especially if they were required to contribute labour or money. Nor would an edict of the chief be likely to galvanize community efforts. Instead, they realized, they should probably work within the strongest decision-making unit in which people were willing to engage in group action. In this case this was clearly the neighbourhood. Second, they noted that any workable solution would have to consider two major interest groups with divergent needs: the cultivators and the herders. Even though their first reaction was to say, “We own the land and should be able to do what we want on it!,” deeper reflection led them to acknowledge that while they could do what they wanted (after all, Maman had carefully nurtured his trees to maturity), they could not control what might happen afterwards unless they considered the concerns of the herders as well.This part of the analysis had been somewhat stressful and had led to several heated discussions among the team members (who it should be remembered came from all three neighbourhoods of the village). In the end they all agreed that it had been useful, however, and had helped them progress further in their thinking about how to deal with the thorny gawo issue.Their next task, the forester proposed, was to focus on institutional issues related to the rules in the community, as well as any external rules that had an effect on decisions about how to manage resources such as the gawo.

Chapter 5: The characteristics of the rules and resource management incentives


Formal and non-formal rules
Working and non-working rules
The types of rules at work in the community
Implications for community forestry
Transactions costs
Gathering information about the rules system
Case Study: Analysis of the rules in Garin Dan Djibo


The two preceding chapters discussed how (1) the characteristics of the resource and (2) the characteristics of the community affect people’s incentives to care for resources and to engage in collective action to manage tree and forest resources. Chapter 3 showed that some resources have characteristics that cause people to nurture and protect them because it is in their private interest to do so. Other resources with different characteristics do not offer the same incentives to careful private management. In fact if demand exceeds supply individuals will tend to overexploit these resources unless communities organize to regulate the use of the resource.

Since some resources require collective action to govern them sustain-ably, Chapter 4 addressed the characteristics of communities. In order to manage resources at the community level there is a need for a certain degree of social cohesion that permits people to work effectively together. Chapter 4 examined some of the factors that create incentives for a community to work together or that act conversely as disincentives to such collective activity.

Once a community decides to engage in a collective forestry activity to improve the governance of tree and forest resources, the next step is usually to create and/or enforce rules providing incentives for people to change their behaviour. This chapter, then, examines the incentives that are created by the rules that govern resource use.

Incentives created by rules are the easiest to understand intuitively. In daily life everyone faces incentives related to rules that create situations characterized by alternating reward and punishment: if one acts in a certain way one’s neighbours, or the community or the government, will approve; if one acts in another way punishment will follow. But rules do not enforce themselves. Someone must monitor behaviour regulated by the rule and enforce sanctions in the case of non-compliance. This means that all rules do not create the same kinds of incentives. The incentive created by a rule that is enforced is different from the incentive created by one that is selectively enforced or one that is not enforced at all. The first type of rule, in which enforcement is predictable, will almost certainly lead people over time to comply with the rule. The second, in which enforcement is intermittent, may not discourage people from carrying out the illegal behaviour and may encourage them to attempt corruption if they are caught. The third, in which enforcement is non-existent, probably will not affect behaviour at all. In addition to the frequency of enforcement the severity of the sanction is a factor in determining how a rule affects behaviour. A rule that when violated can result in a person’s expulsion from a community creates different incentives from one that results in nothing more than a token fine.

This chapter examines different kinds of rules, their characteristics and the incentives that they create for tree and forest management. In order to better understand how rules affect behaviour at the individual and community level it is useful to consider the different kinds of rules that exist. The first part of this chapter discusses the differences between formal and non-formal rules and between working and non-working rules. These distinctions are important, first in helping to identify all the rules that may exist in a given setting and then in understanding which rules actually have an impact on people’s behaviour. This in turn may lead to the identification of non-working rules (whether formal or non-formal in origin) that need to be converted into working rules if trees and forest resources are to be governed effectively.

The second part of the chapter describes the hierarchy of rules that exists in any community. There are three types of rules that directly or indirectly affect people’s behaviour:·

 operational rules;
·

 collective decision-making rules; and
·

 constitutional rules.

Each of these types of rules affects a different type of decision. Operational rules are those that are intended to directly affect individuals’ behaviours and the activities they undertake: what are people allowed to do, what are they required to do, and what are they prohibited from doing? These might be considered ‘surface level’ rules because they are closest to the behaviours that affect the resource base. At an intermediate level are collective decision-making rules. These determine how the operational rules are established: who gets to make the rules and how are the rules established and changed? Constitutional rules are the most fundamental rules in any political system. They determine who can participate in the political system, what the offices in the system are, how office holders are selected, and what powers and authority they can exercise. They also determine the procedures for establishing new units of governance and what needs to be clone in order to make and change collective decision-making rules.

Changing the rules involves costs in time, effort and money. Implementing and enforcing the rules puts further demands on the community. These costs are known astransactions costs. They have a major impact on the feasibility of implementing rule changes in community forestry. They are discussed in greater detail in the last part of this chapter before another episode in the case study shows how these concepts are applied in practice.

Formal and non-formal rules

In analysing the rules at work in the community it is important to remember that rules may be either formal or non-formal. Formal rules comprise all the codified lawsand regulations that are issued by a legislative process or formal decree. These may be promulgated at the national, local or village level but they are generally written down somewhere. Non-formal rules on the other hand are generally unwritten. They often derive from custom or practice. They are more likely to exist at the village level than at higher official levels but this is not always the case. For example, there may be a non-formal rule throughout a state that whenever the Governor passes through a village the inhabitants are expected to give him three sheep.

Whether a rule is formal or non-formal has little to do with the impact it has on people’s behaviour. This will depend on many factors including whether the rules are enforced and whether people think the rules make sense and are fair. The effectiveness of the rules is captured by another distinction: the difference between working rules and non-working rules.

Working and non-working rules

Rules are considered to be either working or non-working depending on whether they actually affect what people do. Working rules may or may not be written down and codified. In some cases they are in the form of local customs or practices that have never been written down; in other cases they may be formal government laws. The key is that to be considered, a working rule, the rule must actually affect the way people behave toward their resources. Working rules “are common knowledge and are monitored and enforced. Common knowledge implies that every participant knows the rules, and knows that others know the rules, and knows that they also know that the participant knows the rules” (Ostrom, 1990).

Working rules may have many different sources:·

 traditional practices whose value has been verified by a community over time but which were never written down as ‘rules’;

· agreements a community or communities have formally made among themselves, whether written or not;

· ethical or religious beliefs, whether written or not, if these give rise to rules that are monitored and sanctioned, e.g. rules governing attendance at prayers or other activities;

· written rules created by governments. (The working rules may be identical to these written rules, or may be ‘adjusted’ in light of local circumstances.)

As noted above, sometimes formal rules are working rules and sometimes they are not. It would be a grave error to assume that just because a rule is formal, it is applied and respected. Formal rules are considered to be working rules only when they have an influence on what people actually do. It is important to note that the actual influence of these rules on behaviour may or may not be what was intended when the rule was put into effect. Sometimes formal rules are irrelevant and are simply ignored in a particular situation. In other cases formal rules and non-formal rules are in conflict with one another: the working rule is the one that people follow in practice. This would be the case, for example, if a law prohibits cutting and pruning trees. Local people may feel that tree pruning is important. They may be willing to risk the consequences of contravening the national law, instead following local customs that dictate when and where trees may be pruned. In this case the local customs are the working rules because they are the ones that have an impact on actual behaviour.

The table below” may be useful in understanding the difference between formal and non-formal and working and non-working rules.

In analysing the rules system in a community it is important to identify both formal and non-formal rules and then to determine which are the actual working rules in any situation. It cannot be assumed simply because a rule is a written one and is called a law or a regulation, that it does in fact influence how people behave. This can be determined only by talking to people, observing their practices and cross-checking information from numerous sources.

Table 2: Categories of rules

 WORKINGNON-WORKING
FORMALCodified Texts that Are EnforcedCodified Texts that Are Not Enforced
e.g. rule prohibiting commercial wood cutting on state lands without a permite.g. rule providing that if an owner lends out his land for more than three years, the land reverts to state ownership
NON-FORMALCustoms and Non-written Rules that Are EnforcedNon-written Rules that Are Not Enforced
e.g. customary rule concerning land loans prohibiting borrower from making permanent improvementse.g. custom of the ancestors (no longer in practice) providing that land borrowers give 10 percent of their produce to the owner

Unfortunately it is often quite difficult to determine what the real working rules are in any given situation. When people are asked what rules determine their behaviour, they often list the formal rules (even if in practice they are non-working), especially when they think that the questioner is likely to ‘approve’ of that answer. Rather than asking directly about the rules, it is often more effective to begin by observing people’s practices, going to the site where people use tree or forest resources to ask how and when various products are exploited. One can then proceed to inquire why practices are what they are and what rules govern people’s decisions. In this way it is more likely that the researcher may discern rules that are associated with actual practices rather than rules that may not have any relevance to behaviour patterns.

The types of rules at work in the community


Operational rules
Collective decision-making rules
Constitutional rules


People’s behaviour is affected both directly and indirectly by different sorts of rules. A working rule against picking unripe mangoes, punishable by a fine, has a direct and immediate impact on whether an individual picks a fruit or not. Yet a national rule against the formation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) may indirectly also have a profound impact on people’s management of resources, making it harder, for example, for a group of villages to organize to manage a community forest. This chapter now examines the three types of rules that influence the way people interact with then-tree and forest resources: (1) operational rules, (2) collective decision-making rules and (3) constitutional rules.

Operational rules

Operational rules are those that directly guide behaviour concerning any particular resource. First, operational rules define who can lawfully get access to the resource and what steps they must take to do so. Second, operational rules define how much individuals can harvest, when and where they may exploit the resource and what tools they are permitted to use. Third, operational rules specify who has to contribute money, labour or materials to protect and maintain resources in the community. Operational rules often change over time as people adapt to new conditions and needs in the community. The rules may also vary over the course of the year; rules governing access to fields under cultivation, for instance, frequently differ from those which apply after fields have been harvested.

Because operational rules have the most immediate and visible impact on people’s behaviour, it is generally easier to begin by analysing the rules at this level. The study is likely to focus on rules that directly concern the resource that seems to be the most problematic. However, it is also useful to gather information about rules governing other resources since this can provide a basis for comparison and suggest other potential governance strategies.

The easiest way to gather information about operational rules, as suggested above, is to go to the site where the resource is found and to begin observing and asking questions about how people are using the resource and what rules they have to follow. The first step is to identify evidence that a resource is being used. This might include observing people actually exploiting a certain tree product, either harvesting it or using it in an activity such as construction or cooking. Even if the activity cannot actually be observed there may be signs such as wood scarring or lopped-off branches that suggest that the tree has been exploited.

If there is evidence of use then someone has had access to the tree or forest resource. This does not yet reveal, however, whether any rules govern access and, if they do, which specific rule permitted the individual access or which rule may have been violated in order to obtain access. The next step, then, is to gather information about these rules. This involves finding out whether the resource is open access (no rules apply to either access or use) or controlled access, in which case one needs to find out the terms that regulate people’s activities.

Careful observation can also provide clues as to whether there are efforts to control access to forest and tree products. These clues include fences, hedges or other devices that restrict free access; signs that animals are stabled, staked, fenced or tended by herders when they are on village lands; and evidence of the presence of guards from the village or some higher authority patrolling land in or around the village.

In addition to this careful observation, interviews with local people, leaders and officials can help to develop a systematic overview of rules concerning a specific resource. It is useful where possible to gather specific information on who can harvest what, when harvesting is permitted, how much can be harvested and what tools and techniques are permitted.

Operational rules in local communities are often highly complex. In many places property rights to valuable trees and bushes are not necessarily included in the property rights to the land those plants grow on.3 One person may own the land while another owns or has rights to tree resources found on that land. Operational rules concerning valuable tree and bush species can also vary with the location of the resource. Certain products can be harvested in bush areas without authorization while harvesting of the same products on a field may be controlled. The analysis of operational rules should attempt to capture this complexity because it is usually critical to decisions that people make concerning their behaviour toward resources.

3 For more information on resource tenure issues, see Bruce, 1990; and Fortmann et al., 1985.

Collective decision-making rules

The next type of rule is the collective decision-making rule. Collective decision-making rules can be described as the rules for making operational rules. Collective decision-making rules specify who can make, modify or revoke operational rules arid under what conditions. In most cases more than one person, group or agency will create operational rules relevant to a community forestry problem. While occasionally there are simple cases in which all the operational rules come from one source it is more likely that the local community will make some but not all rules. Others who may be involved in making the rules include NGOs and other donors who have financed projects, and government agencies working at various levels. Even within the local community there may be different jurisdictional levels such as hamlets or neighbourhoods within the larger village structure.

In analysing the collective decision-making rules, there are several questions to be asked.·

 What group or individual is responsible for making decisions about a given tree resource?
·

 Who participates in making decisions by a given group?
·

 How are decisions made by that group?

Who makes decisions? Not all tree products will be subject to collective decision-making. In some cases, notably where trees are considered to be private property, individuals may have the liberty to make rules without reference to any higher collectivity. Even in these cases, however, certain rules and arrangements such as policing to protect private property rights may be the result of collective decisions. Tree resources that are not owned by individuals (open access or common property resources) will by definition be either not regulated or subject to collective control concerning access and/or use. Trees that produce public services, such as sacred groves considered homes for ancestors and other spirits, may likewise be subject to regulation.

There are likely to be several different groups that have responsibility for making operational rules about access to and use of tree products. Which groups have these powers may depend on factors such as the type or location of the tree or forest resource. For example, a committee of women may decide the rules about the harvesting of cooking wood while the male elders determine the opening and closing dates of the hunting season. Neighbourhood groups may decide the rules for exploiting common property tree groves within their particular jurisdiction. Some groups that are typically responsible for collective decisions about the management of tree and forest resources may include:·

 the village leadership, e.g. the headman and his counselors;

· a subcommittee designated by the village leadership;

· a neighbourhood committee;

· a kinship unit, e.g. clan or lineage;

· an age group;

· an ad hoc community or intercommunity committee established to deal with tree and forest resources in general or with a specific resource, e.g. a woodlot or windbreak committee, or a group that governs and regulates use of a larger wooded area;

· a religious leader;

· an association that regulates the behaviour of its members, e.g. local hunters, women fuelwood gatherers or commercial charcoal harvesters; or

· a national, subnational or local government agency.

Who participates in making collective decisions? It is important to identify not only the decision-making group, but also those of its members who have a right to speak and participate in making decisions. This will reveal something about whose interests are taken into account and may help identify those whose interests are neglected. It is useful to distinguish between those who participate as decision-makers (people who have a vote) and those who act as advisors (people who have no vote) in a given collective choice body. Who is included in and who is excluded from these decision-making bodies? Do they include people who represent all of the groups that make up the community: women? diverse ethnic groups? rich and poor people? people of all ages? newcomers? those who derive their livelihood from pastoralism, fishing, forestry, hunting and gathering as well as agriculture?

How are the rules made by the collective decision-making bodies?

Different groups have different ways of making decisions. Once again the mechanisms used to devise rules may vary with the situation. Rules may be decided:·

 by a single person, e.g. a religious leader has the sole authority to open the harvesting season for nuts, berries, leaves, roots or bark;

· by unanimity, e.g. all decision-makers must give their consent (each person has the power to veto the decision);

· by a simple majority, e.g. half the members of the group plus one member have the power to make a decision that is binding on all members of the group and even on outsiders when they are within the group’s jurisdiction;

· by an extraordinary majority, e.g. a proportion greater than half plus one (for example, two-thirds) must concur for the decision to be valid;

· with the concurrence of multiple units, e.g. three decision-making groups from different villages are responsible for managing a common property forest and all must agree on any management decision; or

· with the concurrence of a government agency, e.g. decisions made locally must be approved by a representative of the forest service.

Constitutional rules

The third type of rule is the constitutional rule. Constitutional rules determine membership in a collective decision-making unit such as a community, age grade or lineage and whether and how such a unit can be created. They define the offices in the unit and the powers associated with them and determine how office holders are chosen. Constitutional rules also determine how collective decision-making rules can be created, changed and revoked. A decision to permit women to participate in the council of elders would be a constitutional decision. A decision to change from a system in which rules are decided by unanimity to one in which they are decided by a majority also would be a constitutional decision. In studying constitutional issues it is necessary to examine who has the power to make these kinds of decisions.

The following list describes some of the most relevant constitutional rules that may affect the management of tree and forest resources, and offers examples for each.

· Membership rules. These rules determine both who is eligible to belong to the group and who is eligible to assume leadership positions. Membership rules may depend on:

– personal criteria such as gender, ethnicity, age and kinship;
– an event such as birth or initiation into an age grade;
– an action such as settling in a community or planting a certain number of trees; or
– a formal request to the unit’s leadership.

· Rules for creating new collective choice units. These rules determine who has the authority to create new collective choice units such as special purpose districts for tree and forest management or new general purpose local governments, as when a hamlet gains autonomy from the mother community.

· Rules for how collective decision-making rules are made and changed. These rules determine the process by which collective decisions are made and modified. As noted above, these rules define who decides whether decisions must be unanimous, whether some people will have veto power, etc.

Operational, collective decision-making and constitutional rules are found in all political systems. The national government has constitutional rules, collective decision-making rules and operational rules. These three types of rules may also be found at a county or district level, and they are usually found at the village and even subvillage level as well.

Three Types of Rules at Work in a Community Forestry ProjectIf a village decides to devise a system to govern tree and forest resources on village lands, that system will undoubtedly take the form of a series of operational rules. An operational rule would determine, for example, how many days a month each family is required to provide labour for patrolling village lands in order to protect trees from marauding charcoal producers.The collective decision-making rule determines how this operational rule is made. In this case, for example, the collective decision-making rule may provide that operational rules are to be made jointly by the council of elders and the chief, and that all must agree (by unanimous decision) to make or change an operational rule.Perhaps some people in the community (for example, women) are dissatisfied with the way that decisions are made and want more voice in the process. They may wish to propose a change (In this case that two women serve on the council of elders). To make this rule change, they have to achieve a change in the constitutional rules since these are the rules that determine how collective decisions are made.In this community, the constitutional rules may specify that no change in the decision-making rules is valid unless both the village chief and the council of elders approve it and three-fourths of the heads of family thereafter also agree to the change.

Implications for community forestry

As described in Chapter 2 some resources are likely to be protected by individuals because they receive direct benefits from any investment they make in the resource It is relatively easy to promote sustainable management of these types of resources Sometimes it requires little more than changing the rules that prevent people from recouping the benefits of a resource in which they invest (for example, eliminating a rule that prohibits individuals from pruning the trees they plant on then own property).

However, because of their characteristics other resources are unlikely to be managed sustainably if it is left entirely up to individuals. Instead some broader community action is required. Chapter 3 discussed those characteristics of communities which determine their willingness to undertake this type of community effort and the factors that determine how likely they are to succeed.

Information gathered in the rules analysis proposed in this chapter will further highlight the potential for and constraints to collective action. Generally, the more superficial is the level of the intervention in the hierarchy of rules, the easier it will be to implement the activity. That is, it is usually easier to work within existing decision-making structures to implement a change in operational rules than it is to change the rules of collective decision-making.

The analysis of the rules should help to identify factors that are favourable to community forestry projects at each of the rules levels, and also those factors which are likely to cause problems. If, for example, there is one person who dominates the community rule-making system and that person is not trusted by large segments of the population, it may be difficult to change the rules in order to effectively address community forestry concerns. A critical factor in assessing rules systems is whether the various stakeholders who will be affected by community forestry activities have a voice in making the rules concerning these activities. If the interested parties do not have a voice in how rules are made and enforced, the result is unlikely to reflect their concerns. When people’s concerns are not reflected in the rules the chances are greater that they will either ignore the changes or try to sabotage project activities. In such situations conflicts and even the eventual failure of the project are highly probable. This leads to the issue of transactions costs.

Transactions costs

Transactions costs refer to the time, effort, material and financial costs involved in reaching a decision. This includes both the various costs of getting a rule established and accepted, and the costs of resolving conflicts that result from application of the rule. It is often easy to imagine changes in working rules that will make them better. Usually, because of the transactions costs involved, it is much more difficult actually to make the changes.

Examples of particular kinds of transactions costs involved in changing rules include:·

 the time needed to come to a collective agreement within the community or other unit (clan, age grade, intervillage association) about which rules to change and how (the amount of time needed to come to such a decision may be quite sizeable, especially if some people expect to suffer from the rule changes);

· the time and expense involved in obtaining approval for the changes if the local community lacks autonomous authority (as is usually the case) to make, modify and revoke rules in all areas affecting community forestry;

· the time and effort needed to implement the new rules once they are accepted within the community;

· the time and effort needed to monitor application of the rules and to ensure compliance; and

· the time and effort needed to resolve conflicts when disputes erupt concerning how new rules are enforced.

Transactions costs will be higher or lower depending, first, on how many different interests are affected by a given proposal to change a rule. Second, they will also depend on the constitutional rules and the nature of collective decision-making in the community. The more people who are involved and the more voices that are heard in the debate over the rule, the higher the transactions costs of making the decision are likely to be, as people who want to change a rule struggle to come to an agreement with those who want no change in the rule. In cases in which most people do not have a voice in changing the rules (when an autocratic chief makes most of the decisions, for example) the transactions costs involved in changing the rule may be quite low. This facility in changing the rules may, however, involve much higher transactions costs at later stages. The costs of monitoring and the costs of resolving disputes will almost certainly be high if people feel that decisions were made against their interests and without their input.

Gathering information about the rules system

Because of the complexity of rules systems it is useful to gather information from numerous sources. This information can then be cross-checked and supplemented as more information becomes available. Local people are likely to be the prime source of information since no one knows better than they do how local decisions are made and whether formal national rules are or are not applied locally. They can best describe the real configuration of working rules from all sources that affects behaviour within the local arena. It is often useful to start with an exercise such as a Venn Diagram (a tool used in RRA and PRA; see Appendix 1) to gain an overall picture of a given community’s social structure. This kind of diagram helps to highlight organizations, committees and leadership. With this as a starting point, discussions around the diagram or independently with groups and individuals can explore some of the issues raised in this chapter. It is often most useful to discuss actual cases in which the community made a decision about tree and forest use or in which an outside authority applied an official rule in dealing with a local infraction. This will help to identify the working rules.

In addition to local sources of information there are likely to be other people who have experience with decision-making in the community or with decisions made at other levels that may have an impact on the community. They might include foresters and agricultural extension workers. A lawyer who has actually been to the field, worked with people on forestry problems and perhaps helped them draft bylaws for an association might be an ideal source. Local consultants and other individuals who know the issues and have practical experience in the sector also can be extremely helpful. These people may also have knowledge about the political and legal feasibility of the type of project being considered or a rules change that has been proposed.

Chapter 5 has provided a detailed framework for analysing how rules affect behaviour. Rules occur at three distinct levels: operational, collective decision-making and constitutional. At each of these levels rules can be divided into those which are codified and usually written down (formal rules) and those which are the product of custom or practice. Rarely written down, the latter are sometimes known as informal rules. Rules can also be divided according to a second characteristic according to whether they are working or non-working rules. Working rules are those that affect human behaviour because they are enforced. When people think about an activity or plan their strategies they take working rules into account. Working rules may be either formal or informal. The job of persons studying institutional issues in community forestry is to understand the array of working rules, at all levels, that may have an impact on the project they are trying to undertake. How a rule works in a specific situation depends on how it interacts with other rules that apply in the same situation. If, for instance, a national rule conflicts with a community working rule but the former is enforced only occasionally, then the local working rule may be overridden in those infrequent cases but may apply the rest of the time.

In addition to studying the rules that are already in place, the community will want to consider changes in the local and external rules systems that will be necessary to make the new activities successful. Such an analysis would start with whether the rules for the governance and management of a given renewable resource are really needed in light of the characteristics of the resource as discussed in Chapter 3. If people’s private incentives are sufficient to ensure good management of resources it may not be necessary to put any new rules into place. However, if the analysis of the resources suggests that private incentives are insufficient to guarantee good management, then the field worker will want to work with the community in further studying the implications of changing the rules systems. First of all, does the community, as described in Chapter 4, have the interest and cohesion needed to engage in a governance activity such as revising resource management rules? Second, what type of rules changes will be needed? At what level will rules be changed? What will be the transactions costs of such changes in the rules systems?

The Guidelines Box on the following page addresses the practicalities of researching rules in an institutional analysis. Then the case study follows the Garin Dan Djibo team as it goes on to analyse the rules structure governing resource management in the community and tries to determine what this implies for the management of gawo trees on village lands.

Guidelines for Implementing an Institutional Analysis:
Studying the Characteristics of the RulesThe purpose of this part of the study is to understand how the rules at various levels create incentives or disincentives for how various stakeholders behave concerning resources.1. Begin by identifying the various operational rules governing the use of the resource in question. Also identify the rules governing other natural resources in the community. Note the source of the rule: is it a formal or non-formal rule?2. Evaluate the extent to which the rules identified are working or non-working. Are the rules enforced? What are the sanctions for transgression? Are the sanctions applied? Under what circumstances and by whom?The best way to get information about operational rules and especially about working operational rules is to go to the site where people use the resource and to interview various users/owners about what rules apply under different circumstances. For any given resource, this may involve several interviews since different users and people who perceive themselves as controlling the resources may have different perspectives on what the rules are. It will also be useful to interview government officials and project personnel who work with the resource in question.To make sense of the information ^collected, it may help to organize it into a table.3. Identity rules at the collective decision-making and constitutional levels that affect governance of resources in the community.The Venn Diagram (see Appendix 1) is a useful tool for exploring the ‘rules for making rules.’ The Venn Diagram can be used to indicate in a clear, visual fashion the various individuals and groups in the community arid outside that have decision-making powers over resources or influence over their use. Once these individuals and groups are identified the follow-up interview can be used to explore the kinds of authority wielded by various groups or individuals, how they make decisions (who is consulted; who actually participates in the decision; whether they vote, reach consensus or follow the directives of one individual; etc.), what the basis of the group or individual’s authority is, and so on.This inquiry can be completed by individual interviews with the various groups or individuals to understand better how they make decisions and to determine the limits and extent of their authority. It may also be necessary to consult higher authorities for a better understanding of the extent to which local communities are permitted jurisdiction over the governance of resources and under what circumstances.4. In light of the information collected in the various activities described above, determine what incentives the rules create for peoples use of resources and their capacity to organize collectively to govern the use of resources. Which rules promote sustainable use and which discourage it? Which encourage collective action and which discourage it?5. Having determined the type of rule that is causing problems, the origin of the rule, whether it is formal or non-formal, etc., consider what would be required to change any rules that have been identified as being problematic.

Table 3: Operational rules governing resource (name of resource or output)

RuleSource of RuleWorking/Non-working?Sanction/Other Observations
In this column make note o each rule that is identifiedIn this column describe the source of the rule Note whether it is formal or non-formal and at what level the rule was made Was it made by an individual in the community? Is it a village rule? Did some higher government authority make the rule?In this column evaluate whether the rule is working or non-working If it is a working rule in some cases and a non-working rule in others, describe the circumstances in each case (e.g commercial woodcutters may obey government edicts but local cutters do not)In this column note the sanctions that are applied to those who transgress the rule Differentiate between the sane lions that exist only in theory and those that are applied in practice Indicate who applies the sanction and how

Case Study: Analysis of the rules in Garin Dan Djibo


As they continued their study of the gawo issue, the Garin Dan Djibo team focused on all the rules it could think of that might affect people’s decisions about how they cared for and used the trees in the village. The team also explored decisions made by the herders and the rules that they followed in making resource management decisions. As the study progressed the team identified some key ambiguities that were at least in part responsible for the fiasco that Maman had experienced in his field.Identifying the Operational RulesTeam members identified two important operational rules concerning how trees on private fields could be used. The first rule concerned trees that grew naturally on fields around the village. It was a rule that had been passed down since the time of the ancestors. No one could remember that it had ever been specifically debated but all knew that it was the ‘rule of the land’ on village territory. The rule, though never written, was well understood by all: fields and the trees that grew on them were closed to outsiders during the rainy season and whenever crops were present on the field. During that period access was limited to the owner and to those people who received specific permission from the owner to enter the field or use some tree product that grew there. Once the crops were harvested, however, the land became open access for purposes of grazing. During the dry season anybody could harvest products from the trees on the field as long as they did not seek commercial gain from the product (in which case they would need permission from the owner) and as long as they did not do any permanent damage to the tree.A second rule was of more recent origin, instituted some 1 5 years earlier when mangoes were first introduced into the area. It explicitly regulated activities concerning trees that were planted on fields. Previously there had been no planting of trees in fields and so there had been no need for such a rule. But when the first mango seedlings were brought in by the extension agent, the village had identified a need to provide security for the investment that farmers made in watering and protecting these trees. Most were planted in compounds but some farmers had taken the trouble to plant trees in their far fields as well. A rule was adopted that no one could exploit the product of any planted tree (regardless of the season) without first obtaining permission from the owner. After careful discussion the team members all agreed that Maman’s gawos fell into this category. They were not exactly ‘planted’ but Maman had carefully protected the seedlings and invested effort in the activity much as he would have done had he actually planted the trees.Until the issue of Maman’s gawo trees arose, these two rules, both of them informal but working, had satisfactorily governed the use of tree resources. There were only very occasional conflicts when, for example, a farmer argued that the trimming of a tree for fuelwood had permanently damaged a tree, and he sought compensation from the cutter (who usually denied that the damage was permanent).The team members noted that another rule existed as well, but all agreed that in practice this was a non-working rule. A formal government edict decreed that no one had the right to cut trees at any time for any purpose without getting permission from a forestry agent. While the villagers were at first hesitant to say so in front of their local agent it became clear from the discussion that this rule was universally ignored, except in the woodlot, which had been established with help from the state. In that particular case, in order to avoid coming into possible conflict with the state, the villagers had simply decided not to cut the trees. (This was the problem to which the chief had alluded in the very first meeting with the forester and extension agent.)Perspective of the HerdersThen the three team members who had spent time with the herders reminded the group of the information they had collected. The herders, they reported, could without difficulty recite the rules concerning tree use in Garin Dan Djibo. They considered their mutual relationship with the villagers to be important and wanted to avoid conflicts as much as possible. They were quick to point out that aside from the occasional mango their children might pick up while moving through the territory, they never picked fruit from trees in the fields and certainly would not consider selling anything they got from village lands. At the same time, however, they readily admitted that they cut leaves and branches from trees when the grasses were too poor to support their herds. “How else,” they had asked the Garin cultivators, “could we keep the animals we herd for your village healthy during the late dry season?” They noted that this practice had been in existence since the time of their forefathers.When the issue of Maman’s trees was raised, none of the herders was prepared to take responsibility for cutting the branches. They admitted that from what they had heard the responsible person had probably been a bit more enthusiastic in his cutting than he should have been, but they also remarked that other gawo trees would eventually grow back. And furthermore, they noted, since gawos are naturally growing trees given by Allah, it was not for Maman or anyone else to tell them that they could not harvest what they needed to live and serve God.The team members concluded from this discussion that there was a problem with how the operational rules were being interpreted, and more precisely how the term ‘planted’ was being defined by different resource users. This was noted as an issue to be explored further. Most thought that stronger rules were needed to protect any trees in which the owner invested a significant amount of effort or money. In the meantime the group turned its attention to identifying relevant collective decision-making rules that might affect the community’s ability to manage resources.Collective Decision-making and Constitutional Rules in Garin Dan DjiboThe team’s analysis of the collective decision-making rules suggested that the community was in a state of transition. In the past virtually all decisions concerning resource management had been made at the community level, usually by the Council of Elders. These were then presented at a community meeting where details were worked out and a consensus was reached on how the rules should be applied and enforced. Since the time of the new chief, however, community meetings were almost never held and when they occurred they usually provoked rancorous discussion and were unable to reach any consensus. As a result neighbourhood leaders were taking more initiative to promote decision-making at their level and to avoid situations in which the whole community needed to get involved.While recognizing this reality, the team members were concerned that it was not entirely satisfactory for good resource governance. They noted in particular that a decision to change the rules about outsiders’ use of trees on fields would really have to be a community-wide decision. Each neighbourhood could not expect to make its own decision and have outsiders respect it. There were, however, other types of decisions that could best be made or implemented at the neighbourhood level. The team concluded from this that there was a need to strengthen decision-making structures at the village level if forestry resources were to be governed effectively while leaving room for the neighbourhoods to make decisions that they could effectively implement and enforce.Finally the team considered whether there were any constitutional issues involved in the gawo case. In the first discussions there did not seem to be anything that concerned the constitutional level. The team members were just about to move on to their final analysis when the forester reminded them of one of the comments made by the herders they had visited:”Those trees were planted by God and belong to God; no one can tell us that we cannot use those branches when our animals are hungry.” The villagers, for their part, were equally convinced that since the trees were on their territory they had the right to change the rules governing their management and could control the actions of anyone coming onto their lands. In short there seemed to be a fundamental difference of opinion about who was covered by decisions made by the village. While the herders were quite willing to follow village directives concerning the use of most resources, when naturally growing trees were at stake the herders had different views of who had rights to make the rules. The team members did not agree with the herders’ perceptions. In fact they became quite vocal in expressing their annoyance as they discussed what they perceived to be ridiculous assertions by their pastoralist neighbours. At the same time, however, they were forced to acknowledge that any solution to the problem would have to address this issue. The herders would have no incentive to follow a rule if they did not accept the legitimacy of the rule-making body in that particular domain.As Maman reported the day’s proceedings to his friends at the mosque before prayers that evening, they all had a good laugh that his small efforts to tie red scraps of cloth around his gawo trees had brought up all these important issues. “Maman,” they teased him, “you’re starting to talk like a president with all this gibberish about rules and constitutions. Don’t you forget that you’re just a wizened old peanut farmer like the rest of us!”

Chapter 5: The characteristics of the rules and resource management incentives


Formal and non-formal rules
Working and non-working rules
The types of rules at work in the community
Implications for community forestry
Transactions costs
Gathering information about the rules system
Case Study: Analysis of the rules in Garin Dan Djibo


The two preceding chapters discussed how (1) the characteristics of the resource and (2) the characteristics of the community affect people’s incentives to care for resources and to engage in collective action to manage tree and forest resources. Chapter 3 showed that some resources have characteristics that cause people to nurture and protect them because it is in their private interest to do so. Other resources with different characteristics do not offer the same incentives to careful private management. In fact if demand exceeds supply individuals will tend to overexploit these resources unless communities organize to regulate the use of the resource.

Since some resources require collective action to govern them sustain-ably, Chapter 4 addressed the characteristics of communities. In order to manage resources at the community level there is a need for a certain degree of social cohesion that permits people to work effectively together. Chapter 4 examined some of the factors that create incentives for a community to work together or that act conversely as disincentives to such collective activity.

Once a community decides to engage in a collective forestry activity to improve the governance of tree and forest resources, the next step is usually to create and/or enforce rules providing incentives for people to change their behaviour. This chapter, then, examines the incentives that are created by the rules that govern resource use.

Incentives created by rules are the easiest to understand intuitively. In daily life everyone faces incentives related to rules that create situations characterized by alternating reward and punishment: if one acts in a certain way one’s neighbours, or the community or the government, will approve; if one acts in another way punishment will follow. But rules do not enforce themselves. Someone must monitor behaviour regulated by the rule and enforce sanctions in the case of non-compliance. This means that all rules do not create the same kinds of incentives. The incentive created by a rule that is enforced is different from the incentive created by one that is selectively enforced or one that is not enforced at all. The first type of rule, in which enforcement is predictable, will almost certainly lead people over time to comply with the rule. The second, in which enforcement is intermittent, may not discourage people from carrying out the illegal behaviour and may encourage them to attempt corruption if they are caught. The third, in which enforcement is non-existent, probably will not affect behaviour at all. In addition to the frequency of enforcement the severity of the sanction is a factor in determining how a rule affects behaviour. A rule that when violated can result in a person’s expulsion from a community creates different incentives from one that results in nothing more than a token fine.

This chapter examines different kinds of rules, their characteristics and the incentives that they create for tree and forest management. In order to better understand how rules affect behaviour at the individual and community level it is useful to consider the different kinds of rules that exist. The first part of this chapter discusses the differences between formal and non-formal rules and between working and non-working rules. These distinctions are important, first in helping to identify all the rules that may exist in a given setting and then in understanding which rules actually have an impact on people’s behaviour. This in turn may lead to the identification of non-working rules (whether formal or non-formal in origin) that need to be converted into working rules if trees and forest resources are to be governed effectively.

The second part of the chapter describes the hierarchy of rules that exists in any community. There are three types of rules that directly or indirectly affect people’s behaviour:·

 operational rules;
·

 collective decision-making rules; and
·

 constitutional rules.

Each of these types of rules affects a different type of decision. Operational rules are those that are intended to directly affect individuals’ behaviours and the activities they undertake: what are people allowed to do, what are they required to do, and what are they prohibited from doing? These might be considered ‘surface level’ rules because they are closest to the behaviours that affect the resource base. At an intermediate level are collective decision-making rules. These determine how the operational rules are established: who gets to make the rules and how are the rules established and changed? Constitutional rules are the most fundamental rules in any political system. They determine who can participate in the political system, what the offices in the system are, how office holders are selected, and what powers and authority they can exercise. They also determine the procedures for establishing new units of governance and what needs to be clone in order to make and change collective decision-making rules.

Changing the rules involves costs in time, effort and money. Implementing and enforcing the rules puts further demands on the community. These costs are known astransactions costs. They have a major impact on the feasibility of implementing rule changes in community forestry. They are discussed in greater detail in the last part of this chapter before another episode in the case study shows how these concepts are applied in practice.

Formal and non-formal rules

In analysing the rules at work in the community it is important to remember that rules may be either formal or non-formal. Formal rules comprise all the codified lawsand regulations that are issued by a legislative process or formal decree. These may be promulgated at the national, local or village level but they are generally written down somewhere. Non-formal rules on the other hand are generally unwritten. They often derive from custom or practice. They are more likely to exist at the village level than at higher official levels but this is not always the case. For example, there may be a non-formal rule throughout a state that whenever the Governor passes through a village the inhabitants are expected to give him three sheep.

Whether a rule is formal or non-formal has little to do with the impact it has on people’s behaviour. This will depend on many factors including whether the rules are enforced and whether people think the rules make sense and are fair. The effectiveness of the rules is captured by another distinction: the difference between working rules and non-working rules.

Working and non-working rules

Rules are considered to be either working or non-working depending on whether they actually affect what people do. Working rules may or may not be written down and codified. In some cases they are in the form of local customs or practices that have never been written down; in other cases they may be formal government laws. The key is that to be considered, a working rule, the rule must actually affect the way people behave toward their resources. Working rules “are common knowledge and are monitored and enforced. Common knowledge implies that every participant knows the rules, and knows that others know the rules, and knows that they also know that the participant knows the rules” (Ostrom, 1990).

Working rules may have many different sources:·

 traditional practices whose value has been verified by a community over time but which were never written down as ‘rules’;

· agreements a community or communities have formally made among themselves, whether written or not;

· ethical or religious beliefs, whether written or not, if these give rise to rules that are monitored and sanctioned, e.g. rules governing attendance at prayers or other activities;

· written rules created by governments. (The working rules may be identical to these written rules, or may be ‘adjusted’ in light of local circumstances.)

As noted above, sometimes formal rules are working rules and sometimes they are not. It would be a grave error to assume that just because a rule is formal, it is applied and respected. Formal rules are considered to be working rules only when they have an influence on what people actually do. It is important to note that the actual influence of these rules on behaviour may or may not be what was intended when the rule was put into effect. Sometimes formal rules are irrelevant and are simply ignored in a particular situation. In other cases formal rules and non-formal rules are in conflict with one another: the working rule is the one that people follow in practice. This would be the case, for example, if a law prohibits cutting and pruning trees. Local people may feel that tree pruning is important. They may be willing to risk the consequences of contravening the national law, instead following local customs that dictate when and where trees may be pruned. In this case the local customs are the working rules because they are the ones that have an impact on actual behaviour.

The table below” may be useful in understanding the difference between formal and non-formal and working and non-working rules.

In analysing the rules system in a community it is important to identify both formal and non-formal rules and then to determine which are the actual working rules in any situation. It cannot be assumed simply because a rule is a written one and is called a law or a regulation, that it does in fact influence how people behave. This can be determined only by talking to people, observing their practices and cross-checking information from numerous sources.

Table 2: Categories of rules

 WORKINGNON-WORKING
FORMALCodified Texts that Are EnforcedCodified Texts that Are Not Enforced
e.g. rule prohibiting commercial wood cutting on state lands without a permite.g. rule providing that if an owner lends out his land for more than three years, the land reverts to state ownership
NON-FORMALCustoms and Non-written Rules that Are EnforcedNon-written Rules that Are Not Enforced
e.g. customary rule concerning land loans prohibiting borrower from making permanent improvementse.g. custom of the ancestors (no longer in practice) providing that land borrowers give 10 percent of their produce to the owner

Unfortunately it is often quite difficult to determine what the real working rules are in any given situation. When people are asked what rules determine their behaviour, they often list the formal rules (even if in practice they are non-working), especially when they think that the questioner is likely to ‘approve’ of that answer. Rather than asking directly about the rules, it is often more effective to begin by observing people’s practices, going to the site where people use tree or forest resources to ask how and when various products are exploited. One can then proceed to inquire why practices are what they are and what rules govern people’s decisions. In this way it is more likely that the researcher may discern rules that are associated with actual practices rather than rules that may not have any relevance to behaviour patterns.

The types of rules at work in the community


Operational rules
Collective decision-making rules
Constitutional rules


People’s behaviour is affected both directly and indirectly by different sorts of rules. A working rule against picking unripe mangoes, punishable by a fine, has a direct and immediate impact on whether an individual picks a fruit or not. Yet a national rule against the formation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) may indirectly also have a profound impact on people’s management of resources, making it harder, for example, for a group of villages to organize to manage a community forest. This chapter now examines the three types of rules that influence the way people interact with then-tree and forest resources: (1) operational rules, (2) collective decision-making rules and (3) constitutional rules.

Operational rules

Operational rules are those that directly guide behaviour concerning any particular resource. First, operational rules define who can lawfully get access to the resource and what steps they must take to do so. Second, operational rules define how much individuals can harvest, when and where they may exploit the resource and what tools they are permitted to use. Third, operational rules specify who has to contribute money, labour or materials to protect and maintain resources in the community. Operational rules often change over time as people adapt to new conditions and needs in the community. The rules may also vary over the course of the year; rules governing access to fields under cultivation, for instance, frequently differ from those which apply after fields have been harvested.

Because operational rules have the most immediate and visible impact on people’s behaviour, it is generally easier to begin by analysing the rules at this level. The study is likely to focus on rules that directly concern the resource that seems to be the most problematic. However, it is also useful to gather information about rules governing other resources since this can provide a basis for comparison and suggest other potential governance strategies.

The easiest way to gather information about operational rules, as suggested above, is to go to the site where the resource is found and to begin observing and asking questions about how people are using the resource and what rules they have to follow. The first step is to identify evidence that a resource is being used. This might include observing people actually exploiting a certain tree product, either harvesting it or using it in an activity such as construction or cooking. Even if the activity cannot actually be observed there may be signs such as wood scarring or lopped-off branches that suggest that the tree has been exploited.

If there is evidence of use then someone has had access to the tree or forest resource. This does not yet reveal, however, whether any rules govern access and, if they do, which specific rule permitted the individual access or which rule may have been violated in order to obtain access. The next step, then, is to gather information about these rules. This involves finding out whether the resource is open access (no rules apply to either access or use) or controlled access, in which case one needs to find out the terms that regulate people’s activities.

Careful observation can also provide clues as to whether there are efforts to control access to forest and tree products. These clues include fences, hedges or other devices that restrict free access; signs that animals are stabled, staked, fenced or tended by herders when they are on village lands; and evidence of the presence of guards from the village or some higher authority patrolling land in or around the village.

In addition to this careful observation, interviews with local people, leaders and officials can help to develop a systematic overview of rules concerning a specific resource. It is useful where possible to gather specific information on who can harvest what, when harvesting is permitted, how much can be harvested and what tools and techniques are permitted.

Operational rules in local communities are often highly complex. In many places property rights to valuable trees and bushes are not necessarily included in the property rights to the land those plants grow on.3 One person may own the land while another owns or has rights to tree resources found on that land. Operational rules concerning valuable tree and bush species can also vary with the location of the resource. Certain products can be harvested in bush areas without authorization while harvesting of the same products on a field may be controlled. The analysis of operational rules should attempt to capture this complexity because it is usually critical to decisions that people make concerning their behaviour toward resources.

3 For more information on resource tenure issues, see Bruce, 1990; and Fortmann et al., 1985.

Collective decision-making rules

The next type of rule is the collective decision-making rule. Collective decision-making rules can be described as the rules for making operational rules. Collective decision-making rules specify who can make, modify or revoke operational rules arid under what conditions. In most cases more than one person, group or agency will create operational rules relevant to a community forestry problem. While occasionally there are simple cases in which all the operational rules come from one source it is more likely that the local community will make some but not all rules. Others who may be involved in making the rules include NGOs and other donors who have financed projects, and government agencies working at various levels. Even within the local community there may be different jurisdictional levels such as hamlets or neighbourhoods within the larger village structure.

In analysing the collective decision-making rules, there are several questions to be asked.·

 What group or individual is responsible for making decisions about a given tree resource?
·

 Who participates in making decisions by a given group?
·

 How are decisions made by that group?

Who makes decisions? Not all tree products will be subject to collective decision-making. In some cases, notably where trees are considered to be private property, individuals may have the liberty to make rules without reference to any higher collectivity. Even in these cases, however, certain rules and arrangements such as policing to protect private property rights may be the result of collective decisions. Tree resources that are not owned by individuals (open access or common property resources) will by definition be either not regulated or subject to collective control concerning access and/or use. Trees that produce public services, such as sacred groves considered homes for ancestors and other spirits, may likewise be subject to regulation.

There are likely to be several different groups that have responsibility for making operational rules about access to and use of tree products. Which groups have these powers may depend on factors such as the type or location of the tree or forest resource. For example, a committee of women may decide the rules about the harvesting of cooking wood while the male elders determine the opening and closing dates of the hunting season. Neighbourhood groups may decide the rules for exploiting common property tree groves within their particular jurisdiction. Some groups that are typically responsible for collective decisions about the management of tree and forest resources may include:·

 the village leadership, e.g. the headman and his counselors;

· a subcommittee designated by the village leadership;

· a neighbourhood committee;

· a kinship unit, e.g. clan or lineage;

· an age group;

· an ad hoc community or intercommunity committee established to deal with tree and forest resources in general or with a specific resource, e.g. a woodlot or windbreak committee, or a group that governs and regulates use of a larger wooded area;

· a religious leader;

· an association that regulates the behaviour of its members, e.g. local hunters, women fuelwood gatherers or commercial charcoal harvesters; or

· a national, subnational or local government agency.

Who participates in making collective decisions? It is important to identify not only the decision-making group, but also those of its members who have a right to speak and participate in making decisions. This will reveal something about whose interests are taken into account and may help identify those whose interests are neglected. It is useful to distinguish between those who participate as decision-makers (people who have a vote) and those who act as advisors (people who have no vote) in a given collective choice body. Who is included in and who is excluded from these decision-making bodies? Do they include people who represent all of the groups that make up the community: women? diverse ethnic groups? rich and poor people? people of all ages? newcomers? those who derive their livelihood from pastoralism, fishing, forestry, hunting and gathering as well as agriculture?

How are the rules made by the collective decision-making bodies?

Different groups have different ways of making decisions. Once again the mechanisms used to devise rules may vary with the situation. Rules may be decided:·

 by a single person, e.g. a religious leader has the sole authority to open the harvesting season for nuts, berries, leaves, roots or bark;

· by unanimity, e.g. all decision-makers must give their consent (each person has the power to veto the decision);

· by a simple majority, e.g. half the members of the group plus one member have the power to make a decision that is binding on all members of the group and even on outsiders when they are within the group’s jurisdiction;

· by an extraordinary majority, e.g. a proportion greater than half plus one (for example, two-thirds) must concur for the decision to be valid;

· with the concurrence of multiple units, e.g. three decision-making groups from different villages are responsible for managing a common property forest and all must agree on any management decision; or

· with the concurrence of a government agency, e.g. decisions made locally must be approved by a representative of the forest service.

Constitutional rules

The third type of rule is the constitutional rule. Constitutional rules determine membership in a collective decision-making unit such as a community, age grade or lineage and whether and how such a unit can be created. They define the offices in the unit and the powers associated with them and determine how office holders are chosen. Constitutional rules also determine how collective decision-making rules can be created, changed and revoked. A decision to permit women to participate in the council of elders would be a constitutional decision. A decision to change from a system in which rules are decided by unanimity to one in which they are decided by a majority also would be a constitutional decision. In studying constitutional issues it is necessary to examine who has the power to make these kinds of decisions.

The following list describes some of the most relevant constitutional rules that may affect the management of tree and forest resources, and offers examples for each.

· Membership rules. These rules determine both who is eligible to belong to the group and who is eligible to assume leadership positions. Membership rules may depend on:

– personal criteria such as gender, ethnicity, age and kinship;
– an event such as birth or initiation into an age grade;
– an action such as settling in a community or planting a certain number of trees; or
– a formal request to the unit’s leadership.

· Rules for creating new collective choice units. These rules determine who has the authority to create new collective choice units such as special purpose districts for tree and forest management or new general purpose local governments, as when a hamlet gains autonomy from the mother community.

· Rules for how collective decision-making rules are made and changed. These rules determine the process by which collective decisions are made and modified. As noted above, these rules define who decides whether decisions must be unanimous, whether some people will have veto power, etc.

Operational, collective decision-making and constitutional rules are found in all political systems. The national government has constitutional rules, collective decision-making rules and operational rules. These three types of rules may also be found at a county or district level, and they are usually found at the village and even subvillage level as well.

Three Types of Rules at Work in a Community Forestry ProjectIf a village decides to devise a system to govern tree and forest resources on village lands, that system will undoubtedly take the form of a series of operational rules. An operational rule would determine, for example, how many days a month each family is required to provide labour for patrolling village lands in order to protect trees from marauding charcoal producers.The collective decision-making rule determines how this operational rule is made. In this case, for example, the collective decision-making rule may provide that operational rules are to be made jointly by the council of elders and the chief, and that all must agree (by unanimous decision) to make or change an operational rule.Perhaps some people in the community (for example, women) are dissatisfied with the way that decisions are made and want more voice in the process. They may wish to propose a change (In this case that two women serve on the council of elders). To make this rule change, they have to achieve a change in the constitutional rules since these are the rules that determine how collective decisions are made.In this community, the constitutional rules may specify that no change in the decision-making rules is valid unless both the village chief and the council of elders approve it and three-fourths of the heads of family thereafter also agree to the change.

Implications for community forestry

As described in Chapter 2 some resources are likely to be protected by individuals because they receive direct benefits from any investment they make in the resource It is relatively easy to promote sustainable management of these types of resources Sometimes it requires little more than changing the rules that prevent people from recouping the benefits of a resource in which they invest (for example, eliminating a rule that prohibits individuals from pruning the trees they plant on then own property).

However, because of their characteristics other resources are unlikely to be managed sustainably if it is left entirely up to individuals. Instead some broader community action is required. Chapter 3 discussed those characteristics of communities which determine their willingness to undertake this type of community effort and the factors that determine how likely they are to succeed.

Information gathered in the rules analysis proposed in this chapter will further highlight the potential for and constraints to collective action. Generally, the more superficial is the level of the intervention in the hierarchy of rules, the easier it will be to implement the activity. That is, it is usually easier to work within existing decision-making structures to implement a change in operational rules than it is to change the rules of collective decision-making.

The analysis of the rules should help to identify factors that are favourable to community forestry projects at each of the rules levels, and also those factors which are likely to cause problems. If, for example, there is one person who dominates the community rule-making system and that person is not trusted by large segments of the population, it may be difficult to change the rules in order to effectively address community forestry concerns. A critical factor in assessing rules systems is whether the various stakeholders who will be affected by community forestry activities have a voice in making the rules concerning these activities. If the interested parties do not have a voice in how rules are made and enforced, the result is unlikely to reflect their concerns. When people’s concerns are not reflected in the rules the chances are greater that they will either ignore the changes or try to sabotage project activities. In such situations conflicts and even the eventual failure of the project are highly probable. This leads to the issue of transactions costs.

Transactions costs

Transactions costs refer to the time, effort, material and financial costs involved in reaching a decision. This includes both the various costs of getting a rule established and accepted, and the costs of resolving conflicts that result from application of the rule. It is often easy to imagine changes in working rules that will make them better. Usually, because of the transactions costs involved, it is much more difficult actually to make the changes.

Examples of particular kinds of transactions costs involved in changing rules include:·

 the time needed to come to a collective agreement within the community or other unit (clan, age grade, intervillage association) about which rules to change and how (the amount of time needed to come to such a decision may be quite sizeable, especially if some people expect to suffer from the rule changes);

· the time and expense involved in obtaining approval for the changes if the local community lacks autonomous authority (as is usually the case) to make, modify and revoke rules in all areas affecting community forestry;

· the time and effort needed to implement the new rules once they are accepted within the community;

· the time and effort needed to monitor application of the rules and to ensure compliance; and

· the time and effort needed to resolve conflicts when disputes erupt concerning how new rules are enforced.

Transactions costs will be higher or lower depending, first, on how many different interests are affected by a given proposal to change a rule. Second, they will also depend on the constitutional rules and the nature of collective decision-making in the community. The more people who are involved and the more voices that are heard in the debate over the rule, the higher the transactions costs of making the decision are likely to be, as people who want to change a rule struggle to come to an agreement with those who want no change in the rule. In cases in which most people do not have a voice in changing the rules (when an autocratic chief makes most of the decisions, for example) the transactions costs involved in changing the rule may be quite low. This facility in changing the rules may, however, involve much higher transactions costs at later stages. The costs of monitoring and the costs of resolving disputes will almost certainly be high if people feel that decisions were made against their interests and without their input.

Gathering information about the rules system

Because of the complexity of rules systems it is useful to gather information from numerous sources. This information can then be cross-checked and supplemented as more information becomes available. Local people are likely to be the prime source of information since no one knows better than they do how local decisions are made and whether formal national rules are or are not applied locally. They can best describe the real configuration of working rules from all sources that affects behaviour within the local arena. It is often useful to start with an exercise such as a Venn Diagram (a tool used in RRA and PRA; see Appendix 1) to gain an overall picture of a given community’s social structure. This kind of diagram helps to highlight organizations, committees and leadership. With this as a starting point, discussions around the diagram or independently with groups and individuals can explore some of the issues raised in this chapter. It is often most useful to discuss actual cases in which the community made a decision about tree and forest use or in which an outside authority applied an official rule in dealing with a local infraction. This will help to identify the working rules.

In addition to local sources of information there are likely to be other people who have experience with decision-making in the community or with decisions made at other levels that may have an impact on the community. They might include foresters and agricultural extension workers. A lawyer who has actually been to the field, worked with people on forestry problems and perhaps helped them draft bylaws for an association might be an ideal source. Local consultants and other individuals who know the issues and have practical experience in the sector also can be extremely helpful. These people may also have knowledge about the political and legal feasibility of the type of project being considered or a rules change that has been proposed.

Chapter 5 has provided a detailed framework for analysing how rules affect behaviour. Rules occur at three distinct levels: operational, collective decision-making and constitutional. At each of these levels rules can be divided into those which are codified and usually written down (formal rules) and those which are the product of custom or practice. Rarely written down, the latter are sometimes known as informal rules. Rules can also be divided according to a second characteristic according to whether they are working or non-working rules. Working rules are those that affect human behaviour because they are enforced. When people think about an activity or plan their strategies they take working rules into account. Working rules may be either formal or informal. The job of persons studying institutional issues in community forestry is to understand the array of working rules, at all levels, that may have an impact on the project they are trying to undertake. How a rule works in a specific situation depends on how it interacts with other rules that apply in the same situation. If, for instance, a national rule conflicts with a community working rule but the former is enforced only occasionally, then the local working rule may be overridden in those infrequent cases but may apply the rest of the time.

In addition to studying the rules that are already in place, the community will want to consider changes in the local and external rules systems that will be necessary to make the new activities successful. Such an analysis would start with whether the rules for the governance and management of a given renewable resource are really needed in light of the characteristics of the resource as discussed in Chapter 3. If people’s private incentives are sufficient to ensure good management of resources it may not be necessary to put any new rules into place. However, if the analysis of the resources suggests that private incentives are insufficient to guarantee good management, then the field worker will want to work with the community in further studying the implications of changing the rules systems. First of all, does the community, as described in Chapter 4, have the interest and cohesion needed to engage in a governance activity such as revising resource management rules? Second, what type of rules changes will be needed? At what level will rules be changed? What will be the transactions costs of such changes in the rules systems?

The Guidelines Box on the following page addresses the practicalities of researching rules in an institutional analysis. Then the case study follows the Garin Dan Djibo team as it goes on to analyse the rules structure governing resource management in the community and tries to determine what this implies for the management of gawo trees on village lands.

Guidelines for Implementing an Institutional Analysis:
Studying the Characteristics of the RulesThe purpose of this part of the study is to understand how the rules at various levels create incentives or disincentives for how various stakeholders behave concerning resources.1. Begin by identifying the various operational rules governing the use of the resource in question. Also identify the rules governing other natural resources in the community. Note the source of the rule: is it a formal or non-formal rule?2. Evaluate the extent to which the rules identified are working or non-working. Are the rules enforced? What are the sanctions for transgression? Are the sanctions applied? Under what circumstances and by whom?The best way to get information about operational rules and especially about working operational rules is to go to the site where people use the resource and to interview various users/owners about what rules apply under different circumstances. For any given resource, this may involve several interviews since different users and people who perceive themselves as controlling the resources may have different perspectives on what the rules are. It will also be useful to interview government officials and project personnel who work with the resource in question.To make sense of the information ^collected, it may help to organize it into a table.3. Identity rules at the collective decision-making and constitutional levels that affect governance of resources in the community.The Venn Diagram (see Appendix 1) is a useful tool for exploring the ‘rules for making rules.’ The Venn Diagram can be used to indicate in a clear, visual fashion the various individuals and groups in the community arid outside that have decision-making powers over resources or influence over their use. Once these individuals and groups are identified the follow-up interview can be used to explore the kinds of authority wielded by various groups or individuals, how they make decisions (who is consulted; who actually participates in the decision; whether they vote, reach consensus or follow the directives of one individual; etc.), what the basis of the group or individual’s authority is, and so on.This inquiry can be completed by individual interviews with the various groups or individuals to understand better how they make decisions and to determine the limits and extent of their authority. It may also be necessary to consult higher authorities for a better understanding of the extent to which local communities are permitted jurisdiction over the governance of resources and under what circumstances.4. In light of the information collected in the various activities described above, determine what incentives the rules create for peoples use of resources and their capacity to organize collectively to govern the use of resources. Which rules promote sustainable use and which discourage it? Which encourage collective action and which discourage it?5. Having determined the type of rule that is causing problems, the origin of the rule, whether it is formal or non-formal, etc., consider what would be required to change any rules that have been identified as being problematic.

Table 3: Operational rules governing resource (name of resource or output)

RuleSource of RuleWorking/Non-working?Sanction/Other Observations
In this column make note o each rule that is identifiedIn this column describe the source of the rule Note whether it is formal or non-formal and at what level the rule was made Was it made by an individual in the community? Is it a village rule? Did some higher government authority make the rule?In this column evaluate whether the rule is working or non-working If it is a working rule in some cases and a non-working rule in others, describe the circumstances in each case (e.g commercial woodcutters may obey government edicts but local cutters do not)In this column note the sanctions that are applied to those who transgress the rule Differentiate between the sane lions that exist only in theory and those that are applied in practice Indicate who applies the sanction and how

Case Study: Analysis of the rules in Garin Dan Djibo

As they continued their study of the gawo issue, the Garin Dan Djibo team focused on all the rules it could think of that might affect people’s decisions about how they cared for and used the trees in the village. The team also explored decisions made by the herders and the rules that they followed in making resource management decisions. As the study progressed the team identified some key ambiguities that were at least in part responsible for the fiasco that Maman had experienced in his field.Identifying the Operational RulesTeam members identified two important operational rules concerning how trees on private fields could be used. The first rule concerned trees that grew naturally on fields around the village. It was a rule that had been passed down since the time of the ancestors. No one could remember that it had ever been specifically debated but all knew that it was the ‘rule of the land’ on village territory. The rule, though never written, was well understood by all: fields and the trees that grew on them were closed to outsiders during the rainy season and whenever crops were present on the field. During that period access was limited to the owner and to those people who received specific permission from the owner to enter the field or use some tree product that grew there. Once the crops were harvested, however, the land became open access for purposes of grazing. During the dry season anybody could harvest products from the trees on the field as long as they did not seek commercial gain from the product (in which case they would need permission from the owner) and as long as they did not do any permanent damage to the tree.A second rule was of more recent origin, instituted some 1 5 years earlier when mangoes were first introduced into the area. It explicitly regulated activities concerning trees that were planted on fields. Previously there had been no planting of trees in fields and so there had been no need for such a rule. But when the first mango seedlings were brought in by the extension agent, the village had identified a need to provide security for the investment that farmers made in watering and protecting these trees. Most were planted in compounds but some farmers had taken the trouble to plant trees in their far fields as well. A rule was adopted that no one could exploit the product of any planted tree (regardless of the season) without first obtaining permission from the owner. After careful discussion the team members all agreed that Maman’s gawos fell into this category. They were not exactly ‘planted’ but Maman had carefully protected the seedlings and invested effort in the activity much as he would have done had he actually planted the trees.Until the issue of Maman’s gawo trees arose, these two rules, both of them informal but working, had satisfactorily governed the use of tree resources. There were only very occasional conflicts when, for example, a farmer argued that the trimming of a tree for fuelwood had permanently damaged a tree, and he sought compensation from the cutter (who usually denied that the damage was permanent).The team members noted that another rule existed as well, but all agreed that in practice this was a non-working rule. A formal government edict decreed that no one had the right to cut trees at any time for any purpose without getting permission from a forestry agent. While the villagers were at first hesitant to say so in front of their local agent it became clear from the discussion that this rule was universally ignored, except in the woodlot, which had been established with help from the state. In that particular case, in order to avoid coming into possible conflict with the state, the villagers had simply decided not to cut the trees. (This was the problem to which the chief had alluded in the very first meeting with the forester and extension agent.)Perspective of the HerdersThen the three team members who had spent time with the herders reminded the group of the information they had collected. The herders, they reported, could without difficulty recite the rules concerning tree use in Garin Dan Djibo. They considered their mutual relationship with the villagers to be important and wanted to avoid conflicts as much as possible. They were quick to point out that aside from the occasional mango their children might pick up while moving through the territory, they never picked fruit from trees in the fields and certainly would not consider selling anything they got from village lands. At the same time, however, they readily admitted that they cut leaves and branches from trees when the grasses were too poor to support their herds. “How else,” they had asked the Garin cultivators, “could we keep the animals we herd for your village healthy during the late dry season?” They noted that this practice had been in existence since the time of their forefathers.When the issue of Maman’s trees was raised, none of the herders was prepared to take responsibility for cutting the branches. They admitted that from what they had heard the responsible person had probably been a bit more enthusiastic in his cutting than he should have been, but they also remarked that other gawo trees would eventually grow back. And furthermore, they noted, since gawos are naturally growing trees given by Allah, it was not for Maman or anyone else to tell them that they could not harvest what they needed to live and serve God.The team members concluded from this discussion that there was a problem with how the operational rules were being interpreted, and more precisely how the term ‘planted’ was being defined by different resource users. This was noted as an issue to be explored further. Most thought that stronger rules were needed to protect any trees in which the owner invested a significant amount of effort or money. In the meantime the group turned its attention to identifying relevant collective decision-making rules that might affect the community’s ability to manage resources.Collective Decision-making and Constitutional Rules in Garin Dan DjiboThe team’s analysis of the collective decision-making rules suggested that the community was in a state of transition. In the past virtually all decisions concerning resource management had been made at the community level, usually by the Council of Elders. These were then presented at a community meeting where details were worked out and a consensus was reached on how the rules should be applied and enforced. Since the time of the new chief, however, community meetings were almost never held and when they occurred they usually provoked rancorous discussion and were unable to reach any consensus. As a result neighbourhood leaders were taking more initiative to promote decision-making at their level and to avoid situations in which the whole community needed to get involved.While recognizing this reality, the team members were concerned that it was not entirely satisfactory for good resource governance. They noted in particular that a decision to change the rules about outsiders’ use of trees on fields would really have to be a community-wide decision. Each neighbourhood could not expect to make its own decision and have outsiders respect it. There were, however, other types of decisions that could best be made or implemented at the neighbourhood level. The team concluded from this that there was a need to strengthen decision-making structures at the village level if forestry resources were to be governed effectively while leaving room for the neighbourhoods to make decisions that they could effectively implement and enforce.Finally the team considered whether there were any constitutional issues involved in the gawo case. In the first discussions there did not seem to be anything that concerned the constitutional level. The team members were just about to move on to their final analysis when the forester reminded them of one of the comments made by the herders they had visited:”Those trees were planted by God and belong to God; no one can tell us that we cannot use those branches when our animals are hungry.” The villagers, for their part, were equally convinced that since the trees were on their territory they had the right to change the rules governing their management and could control the actions of anyone coming onto their lands. In short there seemed to be a fundamental difference of opinion about who was covered by decisions made by the village. While the herders were quite willing to follow village directives concerning the use of most resources, when naturally growing trees were at stake the herders had different views of who had rights to make the rules. The team members did not agree with the herders’ perceptions. In fact they became quite vocal in expressing their annoyance as they discussed what they perceived to be ridiculous assertions by their pastoralist neighbours. At the same time, however, they were forced to acknowledge that any solution to the problem would have to address this issue. The herders would have no incentive to follow a rule if they did not accept the legitimacy of the rule-making body in that particular domain.As Maman reported the day’s proceedings to his friends at the mosque before prayers that evening, they all had a good laugh that his small efforts to tie red scraps of cloth around his gawo trees had brought up all these important issues. “Maman,” they teased him, “you’re starting to talk like a president with all this gibberish about rules and constitutions. Don’t you forget that you’re just a wizened old peanut farmer like the rest of us!”

Chapter 6: Working with local populations to adapt institutions for more effective natural resource governance


Community/professional partnership in addressing institutional issues
Steps in institutional analysis and reform
Case study: Finding a solution to the problem in Garin Dan Djibo


Preceding chapters have addressed the need for institutional analysis in community forestry projects and have presented key issues that enter into such an analysis. This chapter highlights practical considerations involved in carrying out an institutional analysis and implementing rules changes in a community. The first part of the chapter addresses issues that are relevant throughout the process, focusing on the need to develop a partnership between outside professionals and local community members in order to confront these complex institutional issues. The second part of the chapter describes seven steps that typically might comprise a community’s institutional analysis. These steps review the information gathering process that was presented in Chapters 3-5. In addition some related issues are noted.

No one should begin a process of institutional study and change with the illusion that it will be easy or simple. Craftsmen who set out to make an appropriate, durable object must do two things. First, they must understand the purpose of the object. This requires identifying a problem and determining how their object will solve that problem. Second, they move on to the design stage. For this they need to know the characteristics of the materials they will use and the tools that are available.

Groups working on institutional issues face similar considerations. First, they must understand what the problem is, and what a solution to that problem might be. Identification of the problem will suggest what kinds of solutions might be appropriate. Second, the groups must have an idea of what kinds of people they will be working with and what tools are available to produce the institutional changes that will solve the problem. They must be realistic about what they can and cannot expect to accomplish by changing various rules.

Unfortunately many institutional problems are more complex than the problems involved, say, in producing a chair or a table. Institutional arrangements are designed to fashion predictable patterns of behaviour using a quirky sort of material: human beings. Unlike wood, screws and glue (which act in quite predictable ways), human beings think, have their own preferences and are capable of working out strategies to attain their ends. Their actions do not follow the same type of laws that govern the way screws, once started, chew into wood if pressure is applied to turn them, or the way that glue dries when exposed to air.

The sections that follow will discuss some of the implications of dealing with these complex issues of human organization, including the need to work with local populations during all phases of the process, and the importance of anticipating further adaptations in the system. Institutional reformers cannot expect to produce a definitive design; more appropriately the population will propose solutions that will be tested and further adapted as the community experiments with different optionsto find out which are best suited to its needs. As conditions and resource availability change, institutional arrangements will continue to evolve.

People working in community forestry who are serious about addressing institutional concerns need to consider these issues systematically, beginning with the design phase of the project (when they consider which activities are feasible and which will have the greatest chance of success) and continuing all the way through implementation, when the approach will continue to be adapted and refined. While each institutional analysis will be somewhat different, depending on specific local conditions, the steps outlined in the box characterize a typical institutional analysis that might be undertaken by a community working in collaboration with outside professionals.

Steps Typically Undertaken in an Institutional Analysis and ReformThe following steps to institutional reform are all carried out by the local community that will, in most cases, be working in collaboration with outside professionals involved in the community forestry project.Step 1 Define the resource governance problems in the community.Step 2 Analyse the characteristics of the resources that pose problems in the community. Consider options for improving governance of these resources. Define the institutional demands associated with various interventions. Which intervention can be successfully accomplished without embarking on institutional change? Which interventions would require collective decisions, community regulation and enforcement?Step 3 Analyse the community’s capacity for collective action.Step 4 Analyse the rules systems already at work in the community and how they promote or hinder sustainable resource use. Investigate whether any institutional changes will require the concurrence of some higher level of government and assess how likely it is that villagers can obtain cooperation at that level.Step 5 In light of information gathered in Steps 2-4, identify the ‘best bets’ for improving: resource governance and the institutional adjustments that will be needed. Exclude those which at least for the time being appear to require collective community action on a level above what the local community can realistically expect to achieve. Focus instead on those which are likely to have the greatest impact at a level of collective action that will not strain the capacity of the community.Step 6 Plan a strategy for implementing the project that includes not only technical interventions such as tree planting or protection but also a study of how any needed institutional changes, such as the establishment of new rules (at the constitutional, collective decision-making or operational level), will be carried out. Begin implementing the rules changes.Step 7 Monitor the changes, assess the impact and revise institutional arrangements as necessary.

These steps will be reviewed in greater detail later in the chapter, in addition to particular concerns that may need to be addressed at each stage. Before addressing these specific considerations, however, this chapter discusses an important issue of relevance to the entire process: the need to establish a functional partnership with the community in addressing these institutional issues.

Community/professional partnership in addressing institutional issues

Field workers who are active in community forestry are generally well aware of the importance of local participation in resource management activities. Community forestry begins with the premise that local participation is a crucial element in all aspects of the project. The emphasis on local participation in decision-making becomes particularly important when dealing with institutional issues.

There are a number of reasons why community participation is so important at all stages of institutional analysis and change. The first is that institutions are made up of people, not trees; community members know themselves and each other far better than any practitioner who has not grown up in the community4 Many institutional arrangements are not formal, and there are often no written descriptions of how they work. Hence, the only way to determine the working rules system is to tap the knowledge of local community members. This is much easier to do when people feel that they are part of the process, know how the information will be used and have a stake in the positive outcome of the exercise.

4 E. Ostrom (1992) indicates the range of local circumstances that institutional arrangements must into if they are boot durable and effective.

A second reason for the importance of community participation is that, as noted above, human behaviour is not always predictable. From experience local people know how their fellows will likely react in different situations and will be much better at anticipating problems and issues that may arise. They know who can be relied on to keep a commitment. They know what the pressing problems are that may cause people to deviate from normal patterns arid perhaps violate rules. And they know their limits as a community and how much effort they can realistically devote to creating and operating institutions.

Finally, community participation is crucial because institutional issues do not go away. The project and the intervention of the professional forester may end after a few years when the trees have been planted or the community has committed itself to a forest protection plan. While some institutional issues will have been addressed up to this point, it is inevitable that new issues will surface as time passes. When the trees have grown to a point where various products can be harvested a host of new questions will arise. As populations increase or decrease around the community forest, new governance decisions will have to be made. Local people need to understand why institutional arrangements are so important to the success of their resource governance activities and how these arrangements may need to be adapted as conditions change over time. This may happen only if they have been fully involved from the outset.5

5 Outsiders should not presume, however, that community members and local users of renewables are unaware of these issues. Indeed, in some cultures and in some places local people demonstrate what can only, in honesty, be described as a sophisticated awareness of the interplay between operational, collective decision-making and constitutional rules, and a very deft sense of institutional analysis and design (Thomson, 1997). Outsiders who ignore this social capital and presume to dictate new institutional arrangements to the “ignorant locals” soon lose all credibility. On the other hand, those with the humility to recognize local social capital of this sort can soon establish extremely productive relationships with effective local partners who can build on and reinforce the local capacity for stewardship of forest resources.

Professionals working in community forestry (whether foresters or social scientists) continue to play a critical role in situations in which there is a partnership between outsiders and the local community. Some of the most useful contributions are discussed in the accompanying box. In addition to playing this facilitating role, they must be prepared to make decisions in one key area: how most effectively to use the money and resources of the funding organization. If after careful study and discussions with the local community outsiders are convinced that a certain community forestry intervention will not be successful in the community, it is their responsibility to find ways either to adapt the intervention so that it will work or to choose another community where the investment of resources is more likely to yield positive results.

The outside professional also plays an important role when institutional issues extend beyond the boundaries of a particular community. National policy as well as regional or local government edicts may have an impact on community forestry activities at the village level. The professional can have a useful role in bringing information about problematic rules to the attention of the authorities and pressuring them, when appropriate, to reconsider the policies in light of their negative impact on local activities.

The Role of the ForesterOutside professionals working with a community on institutional issues play a number of useful roles. They can raise issues that may not have occurred to the community. They can propose a framework and a systematic process to use in analysing issues, thereby helping to ensure that no important considerations are omitted. They can try to make sure that the full range of options is considered when decisions have to be made. They can offer suggestions based on their prior experience with other communities about how different solutions have worked in the past. Once the professional has ensured that the maximum amount of information has been considered and the full range of options has been examined, the actual decisions to modify community-level institutional arrangements should be left up to the community.

The rest of this chapter discusses the steps in carrying out an institutional analysis. While these are described as ‘steps’ in order to help clarify the process, they need not necessarily follow the order in which they are presented. Often, for example, the analysis of the resources, the community and the rules will be carried out simultaneously in a preliminary study to determine the feasibility of implementing community forestry activities. These issues could all be addressed during a PRA, for example, in which the community works with several outsiders to define critical issues in resource management and determine how those issues will be addressed. One critical part of such a study would be to gather the information needed to do the institutional analysis.

Steps in institutional analysis and reform


Step 1: Defining the products that are involved in resource governance problems
Step 2: Analysing the characteristics of the products according to the framework developed in Chapter 3
Step 3: Analysing the community’s capacity for collective action
Step 4: Analysing the rules systems in the community as well as outside rules that affect resource governance
Step 5: Identifying ‘best bets’ for improving resource management and the institutional adjustments that will be needed
Step 6: Planning and implementing institutional changes
Step 7: Managing institutional change and the consequences of change


The first five steps in the process are oriented toward defining the problem and deciding which institutional issues require attention in order to make project activities successful. This preparatory work is vitally important. As discussed in Chapter 3, not all forestry activities require collective decisions and community regulation. There are many activities that can be successfully undertaken at the individual level. Indeed, one reason for some past failures in community forestry projects is that they have tried to make all activities (even those that could have been carried out individually) into collective efforts. This only compounds governance problems unnecessarily.

Step 1: Defining the products that are involved in resource governance problems

Together with the community, decide which resource governance areas pose problems. Identify the particular goods and services involved (forage and poles as in Maman’s case, fruits, fuelwood, animal habitat, windbreaks, water retention, etc.). At this stage in the process several different issues may be studied. Later, after assessing the problems posed by each issue, the community may decide that the solutions to one problem are more feasible than those to another. The community will then prioritize them according to their gravity and the likelihood that a solution can be implemented successfully.

Step 2: Analysing the characteristics of the products according to the framework developed in Chapter 3

Chapter 3 provided a framework for determining whether a particular forest product is a private, toll, common pool or public good/service. Each of these types of goods and services creates a different kind of incentive affecting how people will behave toward the resource. In this part of the analysis, the community will consider the characteristics of the products defined in Step 1 and consider how the problems are related to the characteristics of the resource. It may be, for example, that access cannot be easily controlled (as with Maman’s trees) and the resource thus has the characteristics of a common pool good. What types of intervention might resolve this governance problem and what kinds of institutional changes might be required to make the intervention effective?

Step 3: Analysing the community’s capacity for collective action

If some or all of the problems identified in Steps 1 and 2 appear to require collective decision-making and community efforts to improve management, the next part of the analysis needs to look at the community’s capacity to carry out these group decisions. Chapter 4 discussed some of the indicators that will help to determine whether the community is more or less likely to succeed in implementing such collective decisions.

This kind of collective reflection may raise sensitive issues within the community. It is important that the issue not be raised in terms of whether the community is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Instead the professional can explain that different interventions would require different levels of community involvement. Only those that have a reasonable chance of success should be attempted; to do otherwise merely wastes the time of both villagers and the outside professionals. The purpose of the analysis, then, is to identify within the possible range of actions those which, in light of a realistic analysis of the characteristics of the community, have the best chance of success.

Step 4: Analysing the rules systems in the community as well as outside rules that affect resource governance

In addition to making an analysis of the resources and the community, it is necessary to assess how institutional arrangements work in the community. As discussed in Chapter 5, this part of the analysis will consider how the community is already organized to deal with resource and other management issues. It is important to study the rules both inside the community as well as external rules that affect community members’ actions. Most communities exist within complex sets of institutional arrangements. Some of these rules are local in origin and some are created and enforced by higher levels of government. These complex arrangements can be highly supportive of community forestry activities just as they can obstruct them.

Rules created by higher authorities (such as cutting permits and rules regulating transportation and marketing of forest products) all have their rationales. Often, however, these rules do little more than increase the transactions costs for local people who want to engage in community forestry activities without otherwise contributing to sustainable resource management. When this is the case, the rules need to be re-examined. Just as community members should be realistic in assessing the local situation, so foresters should be willing to critique institutional arrangements at a higher level, including those originating with their own agencies, and work to change them if necessary to modify incentives to encourage better stewardship of resources by local people.

The purpose of the rules analysis is to identify how the rules systems already in place either promote or hinder sustainable resource use. When there is a problem, it is particularly important to identify (1) what type of rule (operational, collective decision-making or constitutional) is involved and. (2) where the rule comes from (within the community or outside) because this will help determine what kind of institutional change is required to remedy the situation.

Step 5: Identifying ‘best bets’ for improving resource management and the institutional adjustments that will be needed

Once the resources, the community and the rules systems have been assessed, the community and the field worker will be in a much better position to determine where their energies and efforts will yield the most benefits. Steps 1 and 2 will give them an idea of how pressing the need is to change resource management arrangements. Steps 3 and 4 will give them an idea of the possibilities and constraints to collective action and of the types of rules changes that would be useful in the community. Using this information and the experience and wisdom of both the community members and the professionals, they can determine the best options for improving resource governance and the kinds of institutional adjustments that will be necessary to accomplish those objectives.

Step 6: Planning and implementing institutional changes

In the next part of the planning process the population and the professional collaborators will try to work out a strategy for amending institutional arrangements as required by the project’s activities. There are several issues to be considered as these strategies are developed.

· Work with existing institutions wherever possible. Outsiders often have a tendency to favour creating new institutions to deal with issues that arise in projects. Sometimes they consider certain aspects of local institutions to be undesirable, especially if they notice ethnic-, wealth-, gender- or caste-based rules that favour one group over another in accessing resources. There are often sizeable transactions costs involved in creating new institutions, however, and frequently these new institutions prove to be unsustainable and do not have the support of the community. Even if existing institutions are imperfect (either in the eyes of the community or the view of outsiders), local people will probably be more comfortable with them than with imported rules. Imported rules may well have impacts on people’s options, prospects and conduct that can be uncertain and are not guaranteed to have positive results.

With rare exceptions it is best for outsiders working with communities to accept local institutional arrangements as legitimate and to offer suggestions as to how any rules changes required by community forestry activities can fit into the structures already in place. This usually proves to be more successful in the long term than attempting to establish parallel or competing institutional arrangements, although in the short term it may well be more costly in terms of time.

· Look for incremental rather than dramatic changes in rules systems. Outsiders also sometimes try to overhaul the entire rules system as they work out arrangements amenable to carrying out project activities. This too is usually a problematic approach in so far as it risks bogging down project activities in complex political quagmires. It usually works better to make the institutional changes in small increments, making only the minimum adaptations necessary in order to make the project work at any given point in time. This is usually less threatening to the established order and makes it easier to modify rules arrangements that do not work as expected. If the changes do work as intended, the community will be more willing to agree to other rules amendments as they are needed.

· Work at the simplest applicable level of the rules system. Changes to the rules should be made at the most superficial level at which the changes will have the desired result. Chapter 5 described the levels of rules hierarchy: operational rules at the surface, collective decision-making rules that underlie them and constitutional rules at the deepest level. It is important to identify clearly what types of rules changes are needed and not to attempt to change rules at a level that is deeper than necessary. That is, if a change in operational rules is sufficient to control the way people cut wood, and these rules can be decided within existing collective decision-making structures, do not try to change the collective choice and constitutional arrangements. This approach will be less disruptive to local practices and the community’s overall sense of equilibrium. It is also easier to cancel or modify new operational rules if they prove unworkable than it is to undo changes made at deeper levels.

At times there may be a need to change rules at a deeper level. In such cases it is important for all involved to acknowledge that changes in the operational rules alone will not have the desired impact. It is critically important that the community be fully involved in such changes and that it agrees that the new arrangements are both necessary and more appropriate. The general principle remains, however, that changes should be made incrementally and at the level where they will have the greatest impact on people’s interaction with their environment.

· Examine external as well as internal rules systems. People’s behaviour is influenced by local rules systems and also by regional and national rules that are beyond the control of the local population. Part of the analysis of the rules involves determining how external rules systems affect the local rules and decisions people make about resource governance.

One advantage of the partnership of outside professionals with the local community is that often outsiders have the knowledge and the means to identify and eventually seek to change external rules that are problematic. The strategy for improving institutional arrangements should identify changes that are needed in external rules and discuss what kinds of action might lead to such rules changes. When external rules changes are needed, professionals may need to find ways in which their organization (whether governmental or non-governmental) can exert leverage to modify rules that discourage community forestry activities6

· Anchor the rules in the local reality. If rules are to work they need to come out of the experience of local people and the realities of the community. There is no blueprint for the best types of rules to make a forestry activity successful. Instead every community will refine its own rules, taking into careful consideration the characteristics of the resources being governed, the community and the existing rules system.

When the community is active in devising and amending rules systems people are more likely to consider the rules to be legitimate. They will also, then, be more likely to abide by the rules voluntarily, thereby reducing transactions costs of enforcing them and resolving disputes. Equally important, if people believe the rules are legitimate they will be less inclined to protect those who violate the rules. All of this helps to promote a stronger ‘culture of compliance’ in the community.

6 NGOs in some countries, for example, have promoted policy dialogue at the national level on resource management and governance issues. This can lead to changes in rules (such as simplifying procedures to obtain cutting permits or amending national tenure statutes so that they recognize local practices) that reduce transactions costs for villagers and give them greater responsibility for natural resource management.

Step 7: Managing institutional change and the consequences of change

Once the community has developed its strategy for changing institutional arrangements as necessary to improve local resource governance, it will begin implementing the plan. Ideally this should take place through a series of incremental changes to existing procedures as outlined in Step 6, above. At this stage in the process it is critical to have procedures in place (1) to monitor the changes and the impact they are having in practice7 and (2) to resolve the conflicts that will inevitably occur.

7 The International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research programme and database is designed to provide highly detailed monitoring and evaluation of forestry activities. National researchers are now active in Nepal, India, Uganda, Madagascar, Mali, Bolivia, Ecuador and Guatemala. Further information about IFRI can be obtained from E. Ostrom or C. Gibson at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA. Telephone: (1) 812-855-0441; Fax: (1) 812-855-3150; E-mail: Ostrom@indiana.edu or CGibson@indiana.edu.

· Monitoring changes in the rules systems. Monitoring rules is critical to establishing effective, well-adapted working rules. Monitoring identifies and sanctions people who violate rules. It also reassures community members that if they follow the rules (regulating access to common property resources, for example) they will not be the only ones to do so. Enforcement mechanisms will help to ensure that everyone is subject to the same rules.8

Depending on the characteristics of the resource it is sometimes possible to monitor compliance at very low cost: the resources may be in a highly visible place or be easy to protect with a low-cost fence. In other situations monitoring is much more costly. Effective monitoring may depend on being able to mobilize money to pay guards or mobilize labour to serve as guards. In these cases the transactions costs of monitoring must be factored into the overall cost (whether covered by the government, a project or community members themselves) of making the community forestry activity a success. If some of the costs are initially subsidized from the outside, careful consideration must be given to how these arrangements will be sustained after the outside assistance comes to an end.

· Establishing mechanisms for conflict resolution. Monitoring is indispensable to assuring participants in a community forestry activity that others are complying. But just as important are fair, low-cost dispute resolution mechanisms that are capable of settling the problems that inevitably result from rule application and changes. If disputes are not resolved, this will undermine confidence in the viability of the system.

It is important that any dispute resolution systems be perceived as being fair so that community members do not feel that others can ‘get away with something’ because of their political or other connections. It is also important that disputes be resolved without sizeable cost to the disputants and the community at large. When costs are high and disputes are not resolved confidence in the system erodes. This can happen, for example, when somebody violates a rule and is caught. If the local community has no effective, low-cost way of sanctioning the individual, those who want the rules enforced must appeal to officials at some higher level. This is likely to be costly in terms of time and/or money. People faced with such a situation may conclude that it is not worth the trouble to enforce compliance. In these circumstances the system will quickly break down.

These issues should be addressed early in the planning process and then be monitored throughout the life of the project. Because people may at first be reluctant to deal openly with the question of conflict, the facilitator needs to use considerable tact. Conflict should not be characterized negatively but rather as an indicator that different stakeholders have different interests in resource use. The process of conflict resolution provides an opportunity to review the needs of various stakeholders and to decide how they can be addressed jointly in the context of the larger resource governance strategy.

The experience of the community is invaluable in determining how conflicts can be resolved as well as in identifying those disputes which are likely to be intense and which may possibly have no satisfactory solution. With this information, the facilitator can reassess the legal and political feasibility of various community forestry activities. If it is clear that certain disputes cannot be resolved cheaply and fairly it may be necessary to re-evaluate which activities are indeed most appropriate for that particular community.

· Dealing with problems of corruption. One of the most difficult issues to be confronted in community forestry (and any other issue involving governance) is controlling corruption and abuse of power. Community forestry activities often do not involve large sums of money and thus may appear not to be subject to the same pressures of corruption as more capital intensive projects. Even when large sums of money are not involved, however, the activities involve issues such as employment and resource use that may have great value for certain individuals or interest groups. Corruption in community forestry projects most often involves individuals who turn project benefits to their own private use instead of ensuring their equitable distribution among community members. This often leads to the failure of the activity since people who do not expect to reap the benefits of the project (because these are being siphoned off by more powerful individuals) are unlikely to invest the effort needed to make it a success. In such cases people may engage in diverse forms of resistance such as failing to comply with the rules, refusing to take their turn in monitoring and enforcing rules or contributing materials, and not paying local taxes.

In situations where such problems are likely to occur community residents will almost certainly be aware of the dangers. They will either have ideas about how to deal with them or they will strongly suspect as a result of prior experience that the problems are insurmountable. The facilitator then needs to decide whether the programme should be dropped altogether or whether it might be possible to focus on a subset of activities in which the benefits are less prone to diversion. In cases where the outcome is uncertain, the promoters of the activity should start very slowly, avoiding major investments until experience demonstrates whether the community can control potential sources of corruption or not.

8 E. Ostrom (1990) provides both the theory and illustrative cases (irrigation, ground water, fisheries.) about the critical importance of reliable monitoring in the management of common property resources.

After these cautionary words about the process of institutional reform, the Guidelines Box summarizes the steps in analysing the information gathered. The case study then returns to Garin Dan Djibo to show how (having analysed the resource, the community and the rules system) the community confronted the issues raised by Maman’s gawo trees.

Guidelines for Implementing an Institutional Analysis: Putting the Pieces TogetherThe purpose of this part of the study is to identify the ‘best bets’ for institutional reform and to begin planning activities with the community and authorities.1. Review the results of the analysis of incentives that flow from the nature of the resource itself, from the community and from the various rules.2. Note the key incentives that appear to have the greatest impact on resource use in the community. Divide these into those which have a positive impact and should be reinforced or imitated where appropriate, and those which have a negative impact that indicates that some compensating action needs to be taken.3. Think through which solutions may be the most feasible in addressing the problems that have been identified. The following questions may help focus the community’s reflection on these issues.· What is the priority problem?· Is the problem caused by a characteristic of the resource (i.e. private incentives will be insufficient to protect the resource), meaning that additional rules are needed? Or is the problem that some existing rule creates disincentives, suggesting that the rules need to be changed?· If new rules are needed, how can they be designed so that they create incentives to protect/nurture/invest in the resource (depending on the type of problem identified)? If old rules need to be changed, which rules, and at what level?· What degree of collective action is required to implement and enforce the rules changes that are being considered?· Is the community capable of such collective action? If not, is there another type of rule or activity that might solve the problem and that the community (or some segment of the community) could successfully produce and enforce?· What forces outside the community will facilitate or constrain the implementation of the proposed solution?· Are changes required at higher levels as well? If so, how feasible are these changes and who will work on them?· If it is not feasible to make necessary changes at higher levels are there any other possible solutions that do not depend on these higher level changes?· What transactions · costs are involved in implementing and enforcing the rules changes that are being considered?Several considerations should be Kept in mind as the feasibility of various options is reviewed· Work with existing institutions in the community as much as possible; this is easier and generally less risky than creating new institutions.· In general prefer incremental refinements and adaptation of existing policies to dramatic overhauls that are risky and harder to fine-tune or retract in light of later experiences,· Go no deeper than necessary in implementing rules changes. That is, start with the operational rules and move down to more complex levels only if these more superficial changes are clearly insufficient to solve the problem. This is generally more efficient! In terms of minimizing transactions costs and is less disturbing to community practices.· Anchor new rules in local realities as much as possible; create solutions that match local conditions rather than Importing some preconceived or standardized solution that will be less appropriate in the milieu.4. Prioritize the proposed activities according to their feasibility and their likely effectiveness.Establish a clear programme with short-term, intermediate-term and long-term objectives for what the community wishes to accomplish. Begin with those activities that are most likely to show successful results in the short term in order to build the community’s confidence and increase the inhabitants’ experience with institutional reform.Where necessary, be prepared to admit that there may not be a feasible and effective solution to the problem. In such cases the community and the outsider should agree to end the process gracefully by focusing on another problem, postponing the solution until con-straining conditions change in favour of success or simply deciding that the outsiders efforts will be more productive in a different community where circumstances are more favourable.5 From the outset include processes to monitor implementation of any institutional reforms and their impact. Expect to fine-tune the process as additional information becomes available during implementation.

Case study: Finding a solution to the problem in Garin Dan Djibo

With the help of the forester, the Garin Dan Djibo team members had now collected a large amount of information and begun analysing the characteristics of the resource, the community and its rules system. They felt that they had a pretty good understanding of the issues that needed to be addressed in the gawo case. They were all convinced, having learned more about the gawo tree during their investigations, that it was worth spending the time to resolve the issue. They also believed that if the institutional issues could be satisfactorily resolved more villagers could be persuaded to protect the tree. This would benefit the environment of the village and also contribute to improving the livelihood of the individuals who protected the trees, since they would gain from the increased production of grains and peanuts at a time when chemical fertilizers were beyond the reach of many farmers. At the same time, they realized that the issues they had identified in their analysis were not simple ones and that it would probably take some negotiation and possibly several attempts over an extended period of time to come up with a solution that would work over the longer term.Their analysis of the resource, the community and the rules led them to several preliminary conclusions.(1) Without community action regulating use, people would tend to underinvest in the gawo (because of its status as a common pool good). This is because individuals, such as Maman, who decided to invest in the tree could not be sure of getting its benefits. Observing experiences like Maman’s, people would soon decide that there was no use working so hard to protect and nurture the seedlings in their fields.(2) Any action to change the rules would have to take into consideration the practical aspects of enforcing the rule since the trees in question are generally out of sight of the village and controlling access had been part of the original problem. Changing the rules without providing for enforcement would do little to improve the situation.(3) Any action to change the rules would also have to take into consideration certain constraints in the community, namely the difficulty of reaching consensus at the village level. Actions requiring any group organization would probably be more effective if carried out at the neighbourhood level.(4) Where actions at the village level were required, it would probably be necessary either to strengthen existing decision-making bodies or to create new ones that could act independently of the neighbourhood conflicts.(5) Resolution of the gawo management problem would require clarification of the operational rules and close attention to villagers’ and herders’ different perceptions of who has rights to regulate use of naturally growing trees.The team members decided to come up with a set of proposals that they could present to the elders and then, they hoped, to a larger village meeting. While they knew that such meetings had been problematic in the past, they felt that their study had generated considerable interest in the community as they had discussed what they were doing with family and neighbours.People had begun to take an interest in the case and because men from all three neighbourhoods were involved in the study they did not see it (as they had at first) as “just Maman’s problem” or an issue for his neighbourhood alone.Determining the Most Appropriate Operational RulesThe team members decided that the first question to be addressed was the confusion over the rules governing access to tree products (operational rules) during the dry season. The problem they had identified was that the people who invested their effort in protecting the trees considered them to belong to the category of ‘planted’ trees and that therefore permission would be required to harvest their products at any time of the year. The herders, however, considered the trees to be ‘natural’ and therefore open access (as long as the tree was not permanently damaged) during the dry season. The group discussed several possible solutions to this problem.One solution that was quickly dismissed was the possibility of trying to enforce the existing national law (formal but non-working) that prohibited the cutting of any live tree at any time without permission of a forestry agent. If enforced this would prevent herders from cutting any trees in the territory, protecting the gawo in the process. This solution was rejected for several reasons: the villagers thought that it would be a lot of trouble (transactions costs) to get the forester to enforce the rule since they had to travel 30 km each time to make a complaint. While they did not say so in front of the forester they were also concerned (1) that often the agents required some payment to come to villages to investigate infractions and (2) that once they demanded enforcement they might be subjected to the same rule. This would prevent them from cutting trees around the village, or even their own gawo trees, for products such as the construction poles that they needed. All agreed that it was preferable to work out a solution within their own local rules system.The group considered several possible rules changes. They thought of possibly extending the ban against entering fields (already in force during the rainy season) to include the dry season as well. This would effectively keep herders out of fields throughout the year. This solution would have the advantage of not creating conflicts over who had rights to regulate natural trees since they would not be making a rule about the tree but rather the land on which the trees were growing. But it would also mean an end to the long, complementary relationship the villagers had enjoyed with herders. Few thought that this was a good idea and even fewer thought that it could be enforced.Discussion then turned to rules directly affecting tree use. The problem, all agreed, was protecting the investment in time and energy that people put into their trees. If they established a blanket ban on cutting any trees on fields without permission, or even one limited to cutting gawo, they would be protecting some trees in which the owners had put little or no effort. These were the trees that, in the herders’ view, were planted and protected by God. It was clear from discussions that this solution would result in endless conflicts, a situation that the villagers were eager to avoid if possible.With these thoughts in mind the team decided to look for a middle course. In the end they agreed that the best solution would be to negotiate an agreement with the herders whereby the village would extend the protection of ‘planted’ trees to include ‘protected’ trees in which the owner had invested time or money. It would be the responsibility of the owner to demonstrate that he had invested in the tree by constructing a small fence of thorns or branches around the trunk. The fence would not serve physically to keep people out, but would serve as an indicator that this was a ‘protected’ tree. The owners had invested labour and therefore the tree could not be cut or harvested without their explicit permission. This would leave open the possibility that a person who wanted to use the tree could negotiate with the owner to harvest parts of the tree (branches or poles, for example) with his permission and probably in exchange for some type of payment such as deposits of animal manure on the surrounding field.The team members were quite pleased with this solution and felt that it balanced the various needs of community members and herders in a fair and responsive way. How, then, they wondered, would they implement the new decision?Having carefully analysed their community, the team members knew that there were problems with decision-making structures in the community. They decided nevertheless that it was important to work through existing channels as much as possible in order to avoid antagonizing the elders. They decided to take their proposed rules changes to the chief and the Council of Elders. With their permission they would then present the proposals to a village assembly for discussion. The team was fairly sure that in this case, because of the participatory nature of the process it had gone through to study the issue, the village would be willing to set aside its differences and agree to the change.If the village agreed the next step would be to hold a meeting with the herders at the borehole to discuss the issue with them. The team members wanted first of all to reassure the herders that they valued their relationship. But they also wanted to propose the rules change in order to prevent future conflicts that might result in a deterioration of the relationship between the two groups. They knew that after talking to the herders they might have to further refine the rules to account for additional concerns of the pastoralists, but at least they would be a step closer to finding a solution.Anticipating Problems of EnforcementThe team members realized that it would probably be easier to change the rule than to ensure its enforcement. In fact the issue of enforcement was one that caused them considerable worry. They knew that not all herders who frequented their territory would attend the meeting and even if they could get those herders to agree that would not guarantee that others would respect the decision. They fully expected that before the new rules were widely understood there were likely to be transgressions. They also knew that setting up a system of effective enforcement would require organized action that was probably beyond the scope of the village as a whole, given all its factional differences.The team agreed that some sort of system to patrol the outlying fields would be necessary, at least during the first one or two dry seasons until the rules became widely known and followed. Depending on the reaction of the herders, patrols might have to continue for many years, at least on an ad hoc basis. The team decided that each neighbourhood should set up a system to patrol its own lands, or not to patrol them, as it wished. Since the fields of neighbourhood farmers were more or less contiguous this seemed to be a workable solution; youths riding horses or donkeys could circulate among the fields, especially toward the end of the dry season when transgressions were most likely to occur. Some of the neighborhoods, including Maman’s, had a longer tradition of protecting gawos and thus had a stronger incentive to patrol than other neighborhoods where the farmers were only beginning to get interested in the issue.In order to show the seriousness of the infraction the team thought that the judgment of offenders should be at the village level rather than the neighborhood level. The team proposed that the chief establish a committee comprised of one of the elders who had participated in the study team, as well as one committee member from each neighbor hood. This group would judge the cases and establish a system of fines to be levied depending on the seriousness of the damage. “But what if the guilty party refuses to accept the judgment?” one of the team members pondered. Someone else suggested that perhaps they could ask the forester as an agent of the state to lend his authority to the process if, for example, a herder refused to abide by the ruling.The forester was pleased that the villagers had gained enough confidence in him that they were willing to ask for such a service. At the same time, however, he felt a bit uncomfortable about putting himself in the position of enforcing local rules that, while not exactly contradicting state policy, were at least highly independent of it. He realized, however, that in this case he could always resort to the state interdiction against cutting any trees to assert his authority and would not have to put himself in the position of enforcing local, informal rules. With this in mind he agreed to back up the decisions of the committee as needed. He made a mental note that if he was going to continue with such community forestry activities, he would have to raise these issues with his superiors and get some clarification about the most appropriate role for agents of the state in cases such as this one.As they came to the end of their two and one-half weeks of study and deliberations (their reflections on how to solve the problem had added a couple of days to the two-week process they had foreseen at the outset), the team members felt not only a great sense of accomplishment but also a feeling of hope that they could begin to work out some of the other resource issues that had been festering, though less dramatically than the gawos, for some time. With the approval of the chief, they organized a meeting to report on the results of their study. This was followed by a village-wide TamTam dance, the first since the previous chief had died, to celebrate their accomplishments and to galvanize interest in moving further in the process.The forester stayed for the dance, then went back home to report to his wife, “You know, sometimes I really enjoy this job,” before falling into an exhausted but happy slumber. For his part Maman told his son that the next day they would go out early and start putting up thorn fences around their remaining trees; then he too joined the dancers, jauntily tucking a sprig of gawo into the rim of his cap.CommentaryIn this case study, we have seen how the community of Garin Dan Djibo, in collaboration with local extension agents, undertook an institutional analysis of a pressing agroforestry problem in their community. As a result of this analysis, they devised a set of practical proposals for how the issue might be resolved. By changing the incentives related to resource management rules they hope to affect the choices that herders make in cutting trees and that farmers make in protecting and nurturing species such as the gawo. If they are successful, the outcome should be a healthier and more productive natural resource base.The Garin team’s reflections are only the start of the process, however. As the community implements the plan, it will need to monitor these issues and modify its strategies as it observes what happens when new rules are put into place.

CDP 7:3

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! T. Harris, LLD

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