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Social Inclusion: A pre-requisite for equitable and sustainable natural resource management: Two experiences in Mali

The early 1990s saw the launch of two programmes supporting decentralised natural resource management (NRM) in Mali: NEF in Douentza, and SOS Sahel in Bankass. The aim of both programmes was to help create the conditions for sustainable community development, by setting up local NRM structures and revitalising customary resource management institutions. In 1999 both programmes conducted self-evaluations which revealed that while they had worked closely with sedentary agro-pastoralists and residents, they had taken little account of the interests of incoming transhumant herders and involved few women. As a result, local NRM rules were ignored by non-residents, and conflicts over the use of natural resources were worsening. In order to address this situation, SOS Sahel UK and NEF participated in a regional action-research programme on shared management of common property resources in the Sahel (SMCPR), to try out approaches based on ‘social inclusion’ ie. informed participation by all actors in the definition and implementation of regulations governing NRM. The aim of this paper is to make decision-makers, support services and development partners aware of the importance of involving all stakeholders in the management of common resources. Focusing on the institutional aspects of NRM, the paper describes the context of the interventions, presents several case studies and outlines the lessons learned from the experiences.

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In much of Africa, rural populations depend on access to common property resources such as rangelands and forests for their livelihoods. Securing local rights of access to and management of such resources against encroachment or alienation by national or international actors is key to protecting the livelihoods of local people.

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Securing the commons

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