Combating Land Degradation through Participatory Means: The Case of Swaziland

Stringer, Lindsay C.; Twyman, Chasca; Thomas, David S. G.
July 2007
AMBIO - A Journal of the Human Environment;Jul2007, Vol. 36 Issue 5, p387
Academic Journal
This paper examines a community grazing project to rehabilitate degraded land in Swaziland. Using data from interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups, we show that the ways in which participatory, decentralized approaches to natural resource management play out at the local level are closely linked to national-level power structures. The successes and issues that emerge at different stages of the grazing project reflect local socioeconomic priorities and show how people manage their time and labor according to household livelihood goals. However, the project favored the interests of cattle owners who were already the more socially and politically powerful members of the community. We argue that for participatory natural resource management to be more meaningful to communities, projects should focus on local ecological priorities, rather than addressing the environmental concerns that are rooted within existing dominant power structures. This requires change to social and political relationships across levels and the building of new institutions.


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