Environmental Conservation

THEMATIC SECTION: Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM): designing the next generation (Part 2)

Performance of community-based natural resource governance for the Kafue Flats (Zambia)


a1 Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa


The performance obstacles surrounding community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) in southern Africa have much to do with understanding of environmental governance systems and how these are devolved. CBNRM appears to be failing because of flawed environmental governance systems compounded by their ineffective devolution. A case study in Zambia is used to illustrate why and how one CBNRM scheme for the most part faltered. It draws on practical experiences involving the devolution of decision-making and benefit-distribution processes on a floodplain wetland known as the Kafue Flats. While this CBNRM scheme was designed to facilitate the devolution of key components of an environmental governance system, the resultant efforts were largely unsuccessful because of the poor social relationships between government actors and local rural communities. It is argued that in Zambia, at least from an environmental governance system perspective, CBNRM has mostly failed. While generally bringing some marginal improvements to local communities, the construction and execution of an effective environmental governance system have been largely flawed.

(Received December 10 2009)

(Accepted May 04 2010)

(Online publication August 12 2010)


c1 Correspondence: Dr Bimo Nkhata e-mail: bankhata@yahoo.com