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What we do…

The PANRUSA Project

  • This project aims to inform policy makers and implementers of the impacts of natural resource related policies on poverty and sustainable natural resource use in drylands, identifying best experiences and practices from adjacent countries with comparable natural environments.

  • People living in drylands in Southern Africa adapt and cope with marked natural variability in factors influencing the availability of natural resources which they use in everyday livelihood activities. Policies operating at a range of scales can have an impact upon community and household natural resources, livelihood strategies and levels of poverty.

  • Within the context of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the UK White Paper on International Development (Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century), outputs from this project will identify components of existing local, national and international policies that most enable and most disable positive sustainable dryland use and poverty elimination.


There are three principal objectives:

1) To identify and compare the effects of current policies on natural resource use, specifically:

  1.1) Identification and clarification of policy constraints/frameworks for poverty reduction and community and household sustainable natural resource use;
  1.2) Assessment of policy impacts in different physical dryland environments and the identification of spatial dimensions of natural resource availability;
  1.3) Comparison of policy impacts in different countries and the development of appropriate household, community and local institution natural resource strategies.

2) Identification and analysis of the modus operandi of different policies, specifically:

  2.1) Identification and analysis of the chains of communication that determine policy implementation;
  2.2) Identification of the environmental and political controls on the operation of the chains of communication, analysis of their effectiveness, and recommendation of best practices.

3) Development of guidelines for natural resource/community-sensitive policies stemming from results of objectives 1 and 2.

These will advise the UK Department for International Development and other development agencies, governments and NGOs on best-practices and routes to sustainable natural resource management and efficient use of productive capacity in southern African drylands.

Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD): Desertification is a complex and sometimes controversial issue. The UN CCD provides a framework for tackling desertification that embodies current thinking on the environmental and societal components of the issue. These include the need to understand the impact of national and international policies on people's behaviour towards the environment, awareness of the links between poverty, natural resource use and degradation, and the importance of recognising indigenous people's knowledge, environmental sensitivity and rights.

Poverty and Sustainable Livelihoods: Underpinning new policy initiatives to eradicate poverty is the concept of sustainable livelihoods which are livelihoods that can 'cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance ... capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base'. By introducing the concept of sustainability, 'sustainable livelihoods' addresses the linkages between poverty, the environment and empowerment/participation remedying some of the shortfalls that have characterised poverty analyses to date.

Policies, Poverty and Natural Resource Use: Increasingly, attention is being given to the complexity and diversity of societal-environment relationships, and the ways in which local practices are shaped and influenced by, and in return feed back into, global policies and international agendas. Overall this leads to a greater appreciation of indigenous practices and local natural resource management initiatives, and illustrates that people play an important role in flexible resource use and management practices in marginal and variable environments.


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This information has been provided by C. Twyman and P. Bragg
© PANRUSA. Last updated: 29 Mar 2001

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