The majority of population in sub-Saharan Africa remain rural-based and reliant on natural resources. Users draw upon the various resources (land, forests, fish, grass, water, wildlife) for composite economic, social and cultural benefits. If managed holistically and accessed equitably, these commons can remain highly productive and sustainable across generations, and could greatly contribute towards attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. Increasing attempts to manage commons holistically in recent years are as a result of the realisation and appreciation of the interrelatedness and interconnectedness of the ecological and socio-economic dynamics of natural resources. Conflict resolution is integral to these holistic approaches since ecological degradation leads to competition for dwindling resources. In reality, commons in sub-Saharan Africa are under increasing pressure due to their economic value for the dependent communities due to growing populations, rural unemployment and lack of alternative economic opportunities. In most instances, management is uncoordinated. Overexploitation and degradation occur particularly where ecosystem-wide institutional arrangements do not exist to overcome problems of subtractability that arise from open access constellations. Droughts and recent cyclones are reminders of the impacts of climate change on vulnerable natural resource dependent communities.
PLAAS Research on Natural Resource Management
Our research on natural resource management relates to sustainable and equitable utilization of land, fisheries, water, forests and non-renewable resources (e.g. minerals) based on fundamentals, principles and concepts of ecosystems approach, rights-based systems, sustainable livelihoods, food and nutrition security, political ecology, political economy, climate change and the governance approach. The underlying question is how to ensure equitable and sustainable utilization across generations.
Andrea Nightingale (2019) Environment and Sustainability in a Globalizing World
Ngochera et al (2018): Defragmenting resource management on the southeast arm of Lake Malawi: Case of fisheries
Progressing Community-based Natural Resource Management in Zimbabwe
- Mapping marine resource conflicts across sub-Saharan Africa: patterns, drivers and solutions for coastal communities (MARICA). This project, which is funded by the Research Council of Norway, aims to I\investigate spatial patterns and drivers of marine resource conflicts across sub-Saharan Africa using focal case studies in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Partners include the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA); the Centre for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University; Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO); University of Bergen (UiB); the Norwegian Computing Center (NR); the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Kenya; and the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana.
- Towards Enhancing Contributions of Inland Fisheries to Rural Livelihoods: An Empirical Assessment of Freshwater Fish Stocks, Fisheries Potential, Market Value Chains, Governance and Co-Management Arrangements. This project is funded by the Water Research Commission in South Africa and aims to investigate the potential for inland aquatic resources for provisioning benefits for rural communities through fisheries-based livelihoods and other value chains, and the governance arrangements for operationalising such benefits. partners in the project include Rhodes University, the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and the University of Limpopo.