Last May, myself and Professor Dzingirai held a workshop in Harare called “Progressing CBNRM in Zimbabwe”. I wrote a blog post about it at the time. Now, just under a year later, we have published a policy brief through both the Institute of Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of Western Cape with whom I was based at the time, and my home department the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) at the University of Leeds.
Myself, Professor Dzingirai (University of Zimbabwe), Professor Edson Gandiwa (Chinhoyi University), Tendai Nzuma (National University of Science and Technology), Bensen Masviele (Chiredzi Rural District Council), and Honestly Ndlovu (Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources) worked together to collate the discussion from the workshop, distilling the main issues with CBNRM in Zimbabwe at the time (specifically focusing on CAMPFIRE) and identified four key areas of focus to take forward:
1. Emphasis needs to shift from decentralisation towards full devolution beyond the Rural District Councils (RDCs) alongside an increase in capacity of local-level institutions (including RDCs) to fulfil original roles and obligations.
2. Transparency of community-based natural resource management processes is needed, including an equalling of power between the institutions of accountability and investors involved.
3. Partnerships between central government, local government, communities, and investors are needed to ensure suitable and equitable communication is received by all parties.
4. It is vital to increase project emphasis on alleviating poverty and reducing the need for communities to focus solely on their survival so that they can be fully involved.
Culminating from these four key areas, we identified 7 recommendations for both the debate and practice for constructively progressing CBNRM in Zimbabwe. We do realise that none of our findings are new, nor that we necessarily put forward any solutions, but what we do find interesting is exactly that: the debate has not changed, it’s the same as it has been for a long time, indicating that efforts thus far are not having a significant effect, and that there is a need for renewed discussion and focus on solving these issues.