Within the field of management of natural resources, this book focuses on the various approaches of policy formulation and implementation. The question central to this book is how to co-operate with people, the various categories of residents as well as non-residents, in the rural areas: in a top-down, a participatory or a contractual (co-management) way. On the basis of a comparative analysis of 12 case studies in the book, these three approaches are thoroughly discussed and their internal and external constraints examined.
The book starts with an editorial chapter, discussing the recent administrative and political developments in Africa as well as the new opportunities, which they offer for policies in the field of environment, and development. The question is brought up whether the recent processes of decentralization, democratization, and empowerment of local organizations have indeed created new opportunities or that they have only superficially changed the political culture of the countries concerned.
In the concluding chapter of the book, the approaches are contrasted to each other as logical models, each with its own potentiality and limitations. Conclusions are formulated why the top down approach must result in improvization to escape from failure, and why the participatory approach risks to end up into a mixed balance. Special attention is given to the conditions and the prospects for the contractual or co-management approach, which has been introduced into Africa only recently. Under certain conditions, this approach seems rather promising.
Bernhard Venema is lecturer at the Department of Cultural Anthropology/Sociology of Development, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Hans van den Breemer is lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Leiden University.