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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Securing empowerment through GMAs

A recent paper examines the economic empowerment of Game Management Areas (GMAs) in Zambia :

The study finds that the gains from living in a game management area and from active participation in natural resource management are large but unevenly distributed. Only game management areas near Kasanka, Lavushi, Isangano, and South Luangwa national parks in the sample show significant benefits to general and participating households. And in those areas, the poor do not seem to gain even when they participate actively. More even distribution of gains from game management areas across households near different park systems and across the poor and the non-poor should be a continuing goal of national policy makers.
The paper does not explain how such "even distribution of gains" may be attained. It seems obvious that two things must at least be part of the solution. First, tackling corruption in Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) - see previous discussions here, here , here and here. Secondly, the revenue sharing mechanism could be reviewed with greater focus on infrastructure spend which would have a wider benefit to residents. In that sense, infrastructure would provide a minimum floor of benefits for the people. This of course is easier said than done within the current corrupt operational framework of ZAWA. An added complication is that such an approach may also require pooling of resources across Community Resource Boards - not an easy task and likely to face opposition.

1 comment:

  1. Well, on the matter of just how well off or poor are the residents of GMAs – in
    comparison to the poor of other rural areas, Messrs. Sushenjit Bandyopadhyay and Gelson Tembo in their May 2009 World Bank paper trail named, ‘Household welfare and natural resource management around National Parks in Zambia’ have gone over their former tracks as fellow authors of the 2007 paper by Hamilton et al (including the duo as co-authors) entitled ‘The real economic input of nature tourism in Zambia (NRCF), and as well for the June 2008 paper ( Simasiku et al , also under the NRCF) and containing the names of the duo as co-authors of ‘ The impact of wildife management policies on communities and conservation in Game Management Areas of Zambia’. Strangely, the duo do not have in their references the 2007 or 2008 papers, though they acknowledge the help of some of the authors. The 2008 study stated that the 2007 study confirmed that households were on the average better off in GMAs but that this was captured by the elite residents and the CRB/VAG members. The same 2008 study concluded that GMA residents were 30% poorer than the national average. But let us get back to the May 2009 paper by the duo.

    They define GMAs as buffer zones around National Parks (not entirely true of course); and that they are areas where subsistence hunting is allowed (not true). They refer to landuse in GMAs as having to submit to the provisions of management plans (what plans we ask?). They then refer to the ‘Wildlife Conservation Revolving Fund as being in action (last heard of thumping to the ground with the rhino in the late 80s); and to the wide latitude of CRBs spending their funds (here the duo are right but for the wrong reasons: there is no official allowable latitude, it being laid down the percentage which has to be spent on community development and so on; however, the funds are trousered or not paid).

    They found that the average household earnings in the 50:50 sampling of GMA and non-GMA residents, that the average income was K846,000 (about 50 cents a day). They also concluded that the Bangweulu and Luangwa GMAs were appreciably better off than the Zambezi and Kafue GMAs. Why this should be so when places like Isangano and Lavusi Manda NPs have been long denuded of their wildlife and with no safari hunting taking place is obviously a mystery. They did find that GMAs and their institutions (CRBs/VAGs) do not benefit the poor in the slightest, and that there were substantial gains associated with GMAs and participation in the CRB/VAGS, allowing the 40% ’actively to take part in natural resource management’ they say.

    They say the gains are unevenly distributed, but make no suggestion of what to do about it. Has the World Bank got nothing better to say.


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