| Co-Operatives In Natural Resources Management Workshop report 10 |
This report presents an analytical summary of the deliberations of the Workshop on Co-operatives in Natural Resources Management held at IRMA during 7-11 December, 1992. The report also draws upon the papers presented at the Workshop and other relevant literature. It is contended that as biological systems, the natural resources of land, water, forests, and fisheries are dynamic and amenable to management. Three alternative systems or regimes of managing natural resources are identified. They are privatisation, nationalisation, and collectivisation/co-operativisation. Experience with nationalisation of natural resources has not been good in most of the cases all over the world. Privatisation has yielded mixed results: it has been justified on efficiency grounds and condemned on equity and sustainability grounds. Co-operativisation or co-operative management is a relatively nascent regime although most natural resources in olden days were managed as common property by small and cohesive communities. The results of co-operative management of natural resources also have so far been mixed. But theoretically and ideologically, the co-operative mode of natural resources management seems to be the best of all. This is so because with proper rules and regulations it can better meet the goals of efficiency, sustainability, equity and resource users’ satisfaction and is politically and socially more acceptable in most societies and nations than any other alternatives.
The papers contributed to the Workshop covered the natural resources of land, water, forests and fisheries and their geographic coverage was nation-wide. Most of the papers were based on case-studies of both successes and failures in co-operative management of natural resources. It was revealed by the case-studies that most of the natural resources management co-operatives were parastatal organisations and not genuinely member-controlled co-operative societies. Another significant finding of the case-studies was that resource management was not one of their goals. Besides member control, the other major determinants of success across all resources and geographic regions were identified to be:
(1) high stakes of resource users in the resource as well as in the co-operatives managing the resource;
(2) small and homogeneous or otherwise cohesive community of resource users;
(3) education and awareness of resource users;
(4) good local leadership;
(5) professional management;
(6) existence and strict enforcement of rules for regulating the use of the resource, preventing free riding, and sharing the costs and benefits of co-operative management equitably;
(7) government support in the form of funds, technical information, legitimacy, and co-ordination;
(8) involvement of an external agency as a catalyst; and
(9) integration of production processing and marketing. Wherever and whenever a few or all of these factors are absent or are not available in needed quantity, co-operatives are prone to failure.