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close this bookAfrica's Valuable Assets - A Reader in Natural Resource Management (WRI, 1998, 464 pages)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgments
Open this folder and view contents1. Africa's Wealth, Woes, Worth
Open this folder and view contents2. Institutionalizing Environmental Management in Africa
Open this folder and view contents3. Building Capacity for Sustainable Management of Natural Forests in East Africa
Open this folder and view contents4. Participation, Civil Society, and Foreign Assistance to Africa
Open this folder and view contents5. Participatory Policy-making and the Role of Local Non-governmental Organizations
Open this folder and view contents6. Global Environmental Agreements and African National Priorities
Open this folder and view contents7. Adapting to Climate Change in the Context of National Economic Planning and Development
Open this folder and view contents8. African Development that Works
Open this folder and view contents9. Gender, Sustainable Development, and Improved Resource Management in Africa
Open this folder and view contents10. State and Community Conflicts in Natural Resource Management in Kenya
Open this folder and view contents11. Links Between Environment and Agriculture in Africa
Open this folder and view contents12. Nontraditional Agricultural Exports in Africa: Rewards, Risks, and Opportunities for Change
Open this folder and view contents13. Environmental Information Systems
Open this folder and view contents14. Africa and the Internet: Superhighway Checkpoints
Open this folder and view contents15. Africa Data Sampler: Spatial Data for Policy-Makers
View the documentAbout the authors
View the documentData tables and maps
Open this folder and view contentsSources and technical notes for data tables and associated maps
View the documentColor Maps Showing Physical features


Although some countries are making rapid strides, Africa is still widely regarded as a region developing more slowly than the rest of the world. Many African nations suffer from the legacy of colonialism, military dictators and corruption, civil unrest and war, debt and low investment, weak infrastructure and poor social services, famine, natural disasters, and harsh environments. But even the severest critics recognize that Africa possesses great potential, particularly because of the resilience and ingenuity of its peoples and its wealth of natural resources. President Clinton's recent "New Vision for Africa" trip emphasized the continent's wealth and opportunities. The African Growth and Opportunity Act now winding its way through Congress is also a recognition of Africa's potential. This book is about Africa's abundant arable land, water, minerals, and forests and Africans' management of these resources. Each chapter relates to some aspect of natural resource management and the work that the World Resources Institute (WRI) has undertaken with partners in Africa.

Africa's Valuable Assets: A Reader in Natural Resource Management provides an overview of many environmental challenges that Africa faces today and the promising responses that some Africans are making to those challenges. It also presents a collection of tables and maps that add to the tools available to policy-makers and others concerned with environment and natural resource management in Africa. Most authors are or were WRI staff members or otherwise affiliated with WRI when preparing their chapters.

Following an introductory chapter on the role of the environment and natural resources in Africa's development by Peter Veit, Tanvi Nagpal, and Tom Fox, the book offers perspectives on environmental governance issues. Based primarily on experience in East Africa, Paula Williams reflects on the national capacity needed to manage forests in a sustainable manner. Allan Hoben, Pauline Peters, and Dianne Rocheleau investigate the role of popular participation in decisions affecting natural resource management in Africa. Then, Peter Veit and Deanna Madvin Wolfire explore the role of African non-governmental organizations in policy-making in Africa. Clement Dorm-Adzobu's chapter, derived from research in more than 10 nations, discusses the appropriate bureaucratic locus for environmental concerns within a national government.

Two chapters follow that treat the relationship between African development challenges and global environmental problems. Allison Herrick looks at the importance to Africa and African policy-makers of global environmental agreements and conventions promulgated around the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Then, Ian Burton focusses on the Framework Convention on Climate Change and its relevance in Africa, with specific reference to Uganda's preliminary efforts to think about adaptation measures.

The next section examines the role of communities in the management of natural resources in Africa. Peter Veit, with African colleagues Adolfo Mascarenhas and Okyeame Ampadu-Agyei, captures the major findings of a five-year project called "From the Ground Up" - a series of case studies that analyze successful experiences of communities in managing their natural resource base. WRI's Lori Ann Thrupp and Jennifer Green then revisit some of these case studies to examine the role of gender differences and distinct responsibilities in community-based natural resource management. Finally, with particular reference to Kenya, Kamuaro Ololtisatti explores conflicts between government and community, particularly in the management and use of Trust lands.

Two chapters focus on sustainable agriculture. Asif Shaikh and Thomas Reardon analyze the inadequately understood links between agriculture and the environment in Africa. Tanvi Nagpal, Lori Ann Thrupp, and Peter Veit look at environmental and social issues raised by the promotion and cultivation of nontraditional agricultural exports.

The final section considers the role of reliable information and data in the effective management of natural resources in Africa. Ndey Isatou-Njie reflects on the use of environmental information systems as a management tool. Norbert Henninger and Lauretta Burke describe the Africa Data Sampler and the importance of mapping to environmental management. And finally, Jeffrey Cochrane and Jake Brunner describe the growing impact and progress of the Internet in Africa, with special focus on its importance to natural resource management networks.

Our goal in producing this reader - and WRI's continuing institutional commitment - is to support, inform, and stimulate effective natural resource management as part of Africa's progress toward sustainable development.

Jonathan Lash
World Resources Institute