Decision-making and authority over natural resource management, Mali

Term: October 2008-September 2009

Funding: USAID-Translinks

Project contacts: PI: Matthew Turner; Leif Brottem; Br?hima Kassibo; Communications director: Kurt Brown

Participating institutions: LTC, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique, and the Centre Universitaire Mande Bukari, Bamako, Mali.

Summary: Across semi-arid Africa, biodiversity conservation occurs on landscapes where livestock husbandry and crop agriculture are common. While more mobile forms of livestock husbandry has been found to be more ecologically sustainable both to grasslands and biodiversity, little attention has been directed nor progress made to develop the necessary governance institutions to manage the mobility of livestock to sustain livestock production while addressing the seasonal sensitivities of crop agriculture and wildlife. The proposed TRANSLINKS project will analyze requirements and barriers to change by tracing the experience of a study area in Mali undergoing significant institutional change?change that is directed at achieving the accommodation of livestock husbandry with crop agriculture and biodiversity conservation. The Republic of Mali is well-known across the region for the seriousness it has shown toward the decentralization of resource management authority. Decentralization of resource management potentially can create new institutional spaces where necessary innovation could occur. On the other hand, decentralization must address the need to match the scales of governance with those of ecology (wildlife mobility, patch size requirements, etc.) and production systems (village agricultural lands, transhumance zones, etc.).

The proposed study site is the area encompassing lying just south of the Boucle de Baoul? Biosphere Reserve in Western Mali. An expansion of the cultivation has led to the blocking of important transhumance paths from the north leading to greater reliance of grazing in the reserve. In these ways, the study area mirrors the regional problems facing the accommodation of production systems and biodiversity conservation. A unique feature of the study area is that decentralization is further along; local capacities are higher; and the herding-farming accommodation is taken more seriously than in most other areas in Mali. Therefore, it represents an important case to understand institutional requirements and barriers through critical evaluation of the process as it unfolds on the ground.

This project would represent a partnership between LTC and Malian partners. Key personnel on the project are Leif Brottem, a UW grad student beginning his Ph.D. work in the area, and Br?hima Kassibo, who previously collaborated with WRI?s Nature, Wealth and Power Program. He is a major expert on the environmental governance and decentralization in Mali and has expressed strong support for this project and has students working on different but parallel courses in the same region, therefore the prospects for fruitful collaboration are high. Anticipated outputs: Publication, two community meetings.

Herd of cows in Mali

In Mali, local governments struggle to manage herd movements and minimize conflicts with farmers.