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Community-based natural resource management as a good governance and anti-corruption method: Lessons from Madagascar

Madagascar’s ecosystems are seriously threatened. A study of conservation groups in three of the island’s regions identifies the challenges. Conservation is a low priority for poor communities, particularly when wider goals are at odds with local development needs. Community law enforcers are under-supported and feel powerless when corruption undermines their efforts. Improved local community participation, integrated programme design, and community trust in conservation organisations would help to achieve better outcomes.

14 June 2023
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Community-based natural resource management as a good governance and anti-corruption method: Lessons from Madagascar

Main points

  • A shared understanding of corruption among different stakeholders is crucial to successful anti-corruption and conservation efforts. Presenting open and transparent budgets of non-governmental organisation (NGO) projects can help in explaining the costs of conservation to local communities can help to avoid misconceptions that can result in allegations of corruption.
  • In contexts of systemic corruption, ensuring the effectiveness of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) requires careful design. Participants in CBNRM should be compensated for their time and risk with real wages above the poverty line.
  • Understanding the common pitfalls in community-based approaches can help to improve programme design that takes into consideration social and political dynamics. In project design it is paramount to protect local community members who participate in programmes to combat corruption and environmental crime from retribution by implicated neighbours or vested interests.
  • Trust is well established as a vital aspect of successful anti-corruption interventions. Building understanding and trust between conservation NGOs, government, and local communities is important for generating shared understandings of ‘corruption’ and strengthening anti-corruption and conservation outcomes.
  • Community-based anti-corruption and conservation efforts need to be supported by higher- level changes to ensure the appropriateness of environmental restrictions, consistent enforcement across different institutions and authorities, and fairness of judicial processes.

Cite this publication

Klein, B.; Mullard, S.; (2023) Community-based natural resource management as a good governance and anti-corruption method: Lessons from Madagascar. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2023:4)

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About the authors

Brian Klein

Brian Klein is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, jointly appointed in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and the Program in the Environment. Brian’s research focuses on natural resource governance and global development, especially in frontier settings across the Global South. His current projects primarily examine local-level governance and exploitation in Madagascar’s artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector. He has conducted extensive fieldwork on the island, including ethnographic research in rural communities, and served there as a member of the US Peace Corps. Brian holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Saul Mullard is a senior adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and a civil society specialist with a background in historical sociology, development studies, and South Asian studies. His research interests include the relationship between corruption and climate change and the role of local communities and indigenous peoples in addressing corruption and environmental protection. Mullard holds a doctorate and master’s in South and Inner Asian Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as a BA in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.


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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)