The Impact of People-centred Approaches to Natural Resource Management on Poverty Reduction

"Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is often promoted by governments, NGOs and donors as a means of reducing poverty in rural communities, particularly through income-generation from various natural resource-based activities. CBNRM is increasingly being adopted as a means of poverty reduction in the national development strategies of most southern African countries. But can these high expectations be met? Evidence shows CBNRM is able to contribute to combating poverty in terms of empowering local communities, helping to buffer them against shocks, and building natural capital, rather than putting large amounts of money into their pockets. But CBNRM approaches do not reach their full potential because of policy weaknesses and gaps in implementation. That said, the lack of clear criteria and indicators means that the contribution of CBNRM is not measured, and has probably been underestimated. CBNRM cannot combat poverty on its own – its impact is partially determined by larger political and economic conditions, and it does not address all the causes of poverty. CBNRM should therefore be a part of a broader, multi-faceted national strategy to deal with poverty, and it should be strengthened through further policy reform and improved implementation."