Democratizing Natural Resource Governance in Africa: Searching for Institutional Change

May 20, 2009May 21, 2009
Mercatus Center Board Room

The Mercatus Center welcomed Fred Nelson, Director of Maliasili Initiatives in Tanzania, to discuss his latest work on Community Based Natural Resource Management in Africa.


Natural resources play a central role in supporting livelihoods and economies in African countries. Reforming existing centralized resource governance systems, which are rooted in colonial history and post-colonial political economies, is a core developmental challenge throughout Africa.  Despite broad consensus that such reforms are needed due to the maladaptive design and poor performance of existing land and resource governance arrangements, and the widespread promotion of decentralization throughout Africa since the 1980's, it is not clear if more democratic forms of resource governance are emerging. This talk will explore the underlying political economic reasons for existing patterns of natural resource governance throughout Africa, strengths and weaknesses of existing reform strategies, and ideas for catalyzing institutional change more effectively.