University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Creating Local Institutional Arrangements for Sustainable Wetland Socio-ecological Systems: Lessons from the ‘Striking a Balance’ Project in Malawi

Dixon, Alan ORCID: and Carrie, Rachael (2015) Creating Local Institutional Arrangements for Sustainable Wetland Socio-ecological Systems: Lessons from the ‘Striking a Balance’ Project in Malawi. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 23 (1). pp. 40-52. ISSN Print: 1350-4509 Online: 1745-2627

Dixon & Carrie (2015) Local institutional arrangements for sustainable wetland socio-ecological systems.pdf - Accepted Version

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Wetland socio-ecological systems provide livelihood benefits for many poor people throughout the developing world, yet their sustainable development requires local utilisation strategies that balance both environmental and development outcomes. Community-based local institutional arrangements that mediate peoples’ relationships with their environment and facilitate adaptive co-management offer one means of achieving this, and increasingly many NGOs and development practitioners have sought to integrate local institutional capacity-building into development projects. In the context of wider academic debates surrounding the long-term sustainability of externally-facilitated local institutions, this paper draws on the experiences of the three-year Striking a Balance (SAB) project in Malawi which sought to embed sustainable wetland management practices within community-based local institutional arrangements. Drawing on field data collected through participatory methods at three project sites some five years after the cessation of project activities, we examine the extent to which SAB’s local institutional capacity-building has been successful, and from this draw some lessons for externally-driven project interventions which seek win-win outcomes for people and the environment. With reference to Elinor Ostrom’s design principles for long-enduring common property resource institutions, we suggest that the observed declining effectiveness of SAB’s local institutions can be attributed to issues of stakeholder inclusiveness and representations; their sustainability was arguably compromised from their inception on account of them being nested within pre-existing, externally-driven village ‘clubs’ whose membership and decision-making was not congruent with all the wetland stakeholders within the community.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: local institutions, socio-ecological systems, dambos, wetland management, sustainable development, Malawi, SERG
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Alan Dixon
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 17:47
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2020 13:57

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