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Sustainable development and institutional change: evidence from the Tiogo Forest in Burkina Faso


  • Philippe Dulbecco

    (CERDI-CNRS Université d'Auvergne, Clermont Ferrand, France)

  • Martin Yelkouni

    (CEMAGREF Clermont Ferrand, Aubieres, France)


The management of forest resources in developing countries is often inefficient and this is particularly the case when forests are a public good managed by the state. These inefficiencies are generally the result of both externalities and free-riding behaviour. The solution usually considered is to change the property rights structure of the resource, that is, privatisation of forests. It appears, however, that privatisation also has inefficiencies of its own, particularly when it is imposed on local populations. The aim of our contribution is to go beyond the usual state management versus privatisation debate, and to propose instead a property rights structure and related co-ordination scheme which take into account the specific institutional circumstances of the economic setting in which the natural resources are being exploited. The purpose is to suggest solutions based on the need to attain coherence between the external institutional structure and the behaviour of local players. In others words, the challenge is to establish the conditions necessary for an induced-rather than imposed-institutional change. A property rights structure of a resource must consequently be analysed from two perspectives. The first, and more traditional one, sees property rights as an efficient institutional structure of production enabling a reduction in transaction costs. The second proposes to evaluate any given property rights structure from the standpoint of its ability to offer a solution to the issue of an effective link between the legal framework and the behaviour of the players. Our analysis will make use of our knowledge of the forest of Tiogo in Burkina Faso based on a survey organised in 12 riverside villages, and using a sample of 300 households. The case of the Tiogo Forest suggests that institutional change needs to follow an incremental and path-dependent process within which the state is invited to play a major role together with the local communities. Indeed the institutional choices of the Tiogo Forest households indicate that they favour an inclusion of the local population in resource management and co-administration of forestry resources with the state. Such an institutional structure favours a negotiated rather than an imposed scheduling of measures, and seeks a minimum of consensus to ensure the adhesion of actors and users to the new institutional arrangements, whilst limiting the number of bad players. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Dulbecco & Martin Yelkouni, 2007. "Sustainable development and institutional change: evidence from the Tiogo Forest in Burkina Faso," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(8), pages 1043-1058.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:19:y:2007:i:8:p:1043-1058
    DOI: 10.1002/jid.1362

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edella Schlager & Elinor Ostrom, 1992. "Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 249-262.
    2. North, Douglass C, 1994. "Economic Performance through Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 359-368, June.
    3. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2000. "Halting Degradation of Natural Resources: Is There a Role for Rural Communities?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290612.
    4. Dulbecco, Philippe, 2003. "The Dynamics of the Institutional Change and the Market Economy: Understanding Contemporaneous Market Development Processes," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 16(2-3), pages 231-251, September.
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