Assessing the need to manage conflict in community-based natural resource projects

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This issue of Natural Resource Perspectives from ODI (Overseas Development Institute) considers the role of æconflict management assessment in community-based natural resource projects. The importance of conducting an assessment of the potential for conflict and its management in relation to a project intervention is stressed, and an assessment framework described. Within this framework the advantages of managing conflict through a consensual æwin-winÆ process of stakeholder negotiation are discussed. The following policy conclusions are made. Interventions to assist in the management of conflict within community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) should be preceded by a æconflict management assessment (CMA). This assessment should consider: (a) whether the conflict is likely to overwhelm the existing customary, institutional and legal approaches to conflict management, and if so whether it is appropriate to try to strengthen these; (b) whether, if the conflict is left alone, new conflict management mechanisms will organically materialise within an acceptable time-frame; and (c) whether the long-term benefits of allowing the conflict to transform itself into a positive force for social reform are outweighed by the short-term costs. Interventions for improved conflict management should be guided by an overall strategy which considers the full range of management options. Capacity building is a critical component of effective conflict management and a process of stakeholder negotiations is where the most creative and durable solutions will be found. Two factors support consensual æwin-winÆ negotiations as an effective strategy for managing conflicts in CBNRM: (a) the multi-stakeholder nature of such conflicts; and (b) the common ground that exists for sustaining renewable natural resources. Implementation of an overall strategy of conflict management will need to be periodically monitored to ensure that new external forces are neutral to the conflict, and that either a ædo-nothingÆ strategy is having the expected impact, or that the commitments embodied in a negotiated agreement are implemented in full and are effective.

Source publication information
Natural resource perspectives no. 35
Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JD, UK
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