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Governance of the commons in southern Africa: knowledge, political economy and power


  • Mafaniso Hara
  • Stephen Turner
  • Tobias Haller
  • Frank Matose


Millions of southern African livelihoods continue to depend on the successful management and sustainable use of the commons - land and natural resources that are supposedly or actually managed, with varying degrees of success, as common property. This, above all, is the challenge to governance. The poor must tackle it - and governments and development agencies must support their endeavours - in the triple context of knowledge, political economy and power. This paper highlights the major factors and trends in these three areas that we must understand if we are to optimise support for the governance of the commons in southern Africa. If more commons around the region are studied from the same analytical perspectives, it will be easier to share experience and lessons in ways that can usefully inform development and conservation policy and programmes. This is what the Cross-Sectoral Commons Governance in Southern Africa project, reported in this special issue, has tried to do.

Suggested Citation

  • Mafaniso Hara & Stephen Turner & Tobias Haller & Frank Matose, 2009. "Governance of the commons in southern Africa: knowledge, political economy and power," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(4), pages 521-537.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:26:y:2009:i:4:p:521-537
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350903181324

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Pradhan, Rajendra, 2002. "Legal pluralism and dynamic property rights:," CAPRi working papers 22, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Mutenje, M.J. & Ortmann, G.F. & Ferrer, S.R.D., 2011. "Management of non-timber forestry products extraction: Local institutions, ecological knowledge and market structure in South-Eastern Zimbabwe," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 454-461, January.
    2. Steele, Melita Z. & Shackleton, Charlie M. & Uma Shaanker, R. & Ganeshaiah, K.N. & Radloff, Sarah, 2015. "The influence of livelihood dependency, local ecological knowledge and market proximity on the ecological impacts of harvesting non-timber forest products," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 285-291.


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