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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 166-178

Managing Social-ecological Change and Uncertainty: Floodplain Agriculture and Conservation in Dryland Northern Cameroon


1 Current affiliations: Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108 and Minnesota State Department of Natural Resources, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155 and Research undertaken at: Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108 and 115 Green Hall, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
2 Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108 and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
3 Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108 and Northern Research Station, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, 1992 Folwell Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA

Correspondence Address:
Stanley T Asah
115 Green Hall, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.49210

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Managing change and uncertainty is important for effective environmental conservation, especially in semi-arid areas. This paper explores farmers' strategies adopted for managing change and uncertainty in­herent in social-agricultural interactions in the Logone floodplain of the Lake Chad basin. We do this through ethnographic participant observations, surveys and latent variable modelling. Among four cate­gories of strategies, those adopted to spread risks were shown to negatively impact farmers' efforts to manage change and uncertainty. Risk-spreading strategies relying on social networks, credit, common­pool resources, cultivation of multiple species and varieties, and alternative income-generating activities were seldom ineffective. In part, the ineffectiveness of risk-spreading strategies is explained by the fact that these strategies were subjected to similar human-environment conditions as agriculture. However, development interventions, corruption, democratic reform, re-negotiation of the commons and reluctance to seize risk-spreading opportunities have undesirable consequences for agro-ecological risk manage­ment. We discuss local potential and the role of external agents in enhancing management of change and uncertainty.


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