Comanagement of natural resources Local learning for poverty education

By Richard Mahapatra
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015 | 03:16:47 AM



The contemporary state of resource management (nrm) holds two important lessons. One, environment and poverty cannot be de-linked. Two, managing resources--and not just their availability--is critical to sustainability. Today, local-level institutions are increasingly geared to making natural resource management effective and equitable. Shibboleths on nrm are being challenged, and local communities and governments pressured to rethink strategies and roles.

The book under review focuses on another player in this arena development researchers. The latest in the International Development Research Centre's (idrc) Focus series, the volume draws on six case studies from various parts of the world to question privileging of expert knowledge on natural resource management.Author Stephen R Tyler was the team leader of idrc's community-based nrm programme in Asia.
Low brow Down to EarthThough the book's title emphasises co-management--Tyler defines it as management by both government and communities--streamlining the role of researchers appears to be its major concern. "Rural poverty and resource degradation in marginal areas are not new problems. While attempts to address them through applied research have attracted lots of attention over the years, results have not often reached large number of poor farmers," Tyler observes.

The six case studies in the book show how research works to the detriment of development. "Possibly the most important element missing from traditional empirical research has been poor men and women themselves. They stop short of recognising that it is the poor producers themselves, not the researchers, whose learning is most important," Tyler notes.

"Participatory action research is necessary now to make comanagement of natural resources a feasible and productive exercise," he adds. This means restructuring methodologies to provide key role to local people. Tyler also advocates that research must possess applied value for the local communities.

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