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Local institutions: resilient in the face of change?

Two decades ago, legal provisions gave local institutions rights to manage natural resources in four dryland African countries: Mali, Niger, Sudan and Ethiopia. This briefing examines how resilient such decentralised institutions have been, under rapidly changing circumstances, and notes common lessons learned. Local management rights remain largely unsupported by government or legal implementation. The state has further complicated land management challenges by allocating large holdings to investors and by taking partisan roles in local politics. Changing politics, insecurity, demography and climate have exacerbated stresses, many of which have distant root causes. Neighbouring conflicts have driven influxes of people and animals. Increasing wealth inequalities and shifting livelihood strategies have eroded farming and herding communities’ common interests.

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