Environmental Practice


RESEARCH ARTICLE: The Changing Dynamics of Local Institutions in Fishing Communities in Mozambique: Responses to Policy—Public Participation and Decision Making

Ana Menezesa1 c1, Richard Smardona1 c2 and Tenreiro de Almeidaa2 c3

a1 Environmental and Natural Resources Policy, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY–ESF), Syracuse, New York

a2 Fisheries planning and management consultant, Maputo-Mozambique


This study analyzes local institutions plus the practice of participatory decision making for promoting community development in fishing communities in Mozambique. This study covers the evolution of institutions and its impact at the household and community level particularly after the structural adjustments of 1987, which promoted new institutions at central and local levels, as well as the practice of participatory decision making. We combined participatory appraisals, focus-group discussions, and participant observation methods with quantitative data from structured surveys of representative samples for data gathered. Assisted by mode-of-regulation model and community power theory, our results demonstrated that since the policy shift in 1990, and particularly after 1994 (when public participation and decision making were introduced), central and local institutions were created, with some communities showing better results than others. By working together and depending on each other as social support networks, as well as by working with the government, people within fishing communities are generating secondary benefits by jointly building social infrastructure and community consensus to better cope with the impacts of adverse social and economic stresses that often occur in coastal regions of Mozambique. Specific stakeholder perspectives are accessed and analyzed for four time periods from 1987 to 2006.

Environmental Practice 11:32–51 (2009)

(Received 2008)

(Revised 2008)

(Accepted 2008)


c1 Address correspondence to: Ana Menezes, SUNY–ESF, Syracuse, NY 13210; (email) great_antelope@hotmail.com

c2 Address correspondence to: Richard Smardon, SUNY–ESF, Syracuse, NY 13210; (email) rsmardon@esf.edu

c3 Address correspondence to: Tenreiro de Almeida, Maputo-Mozambique, (email) yangula@tdm.co.mz