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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 153-164

Comparing the Effectiveness of Informal and Formal Institutions in Sustainable Common Pool Resources Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

1 Centre for Development Research, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
2 Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria

Correspondence Address:
Mastewal Yami
Centre for Development Research, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.64731

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This article compares the effectiveness of informal and formal institutions for sustainable common pool resources (CPRs) management in Sub-Saharan Africa and investigates the social, political and demographic conditions that influence the institutions' effectiveness. By focusing on publications addressing micro-level CPR management, a comprehensive literature review was conducted. Articles were grouped, based on the main themes of the study, including types of institutions and conditions that influence their effectiveness. A qualitative meta-analysis was conducted using a deductive coding approach. The results revealed that informal institutions have contributed to sustainable CPR management by creating a suitable environment for joint decision-making, enabling exclusion at low cost for CPR users and using locally agreed sanctions. Although the published evidence suggested less support to formal institutions under decentralised governmental reforms, they played an important role in implementing technologies for sustainable CPR management. Conditions that influence the effectiveness of both types of institutions include high population growth on limited CPRs, the growing scarcity of CPRs due to land use change and the lack of human and financial capacities. Improving the conditions that hinder the contributions of both types of institutions is crucial to enhance the institutions' effectiveness in sustainable CPR management. Moreover, policies and development interventions should strengthen the involvement of well-functioning informal institutions in decision-making so that sustainable CPR management can be achieved.

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