• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

NGOs today, as part of civil society, have come to play a prominent role in South Asia in the context of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM). This book examines the theory and practice of NGO-driven CBNRM within the framework of emerging critiques of dominant discourses of development, the micro-politics of decentralization, and the projection of community development. The book breaks new ground by situating these critiques within six detailed cases of CBNRM initiatives.

To what extent does CBNRM continue to offer a vision for the future and what role, if any, could NGOs play in this? The authors attempt to answer this question by seeking to understand the ideas and insights of CBNRM that intervening agencies bring with them and by examining the outcomes of the interventions and the strategies used to achieve them.

The book concludes that though these CBNRM efforts have made significant contributions to livelihood enhancement, the results gained are limited in collective action for sustainable and equitable access to benefits, continuing resource use, and in terms of democratic decentralization.


Since the 1990s, the concept of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) has come to the forefront of rural development policy in developing countries. Governments across South and South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America have adopted and implemented CBNRM in various ways. These include programmes in individual sectors such as forestry, irrigation or wildlife management, or multi-sectoral programmes such as watershed development or rural livelihoods development, with or without donor support, with varying emphasis on conservation or local livelihoods, with statutory backing or in an ad-hoc manner, through non-government organisations (NGOs) or directly through state agencies and so on.

Broadly speaking, the umbrella term CBNRM emphasises that involving, if not privileging, local communities is essential for ‘successful’ natural resource management (NRM), and that doing so can ...

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