Towards understanding the impact of community-based natural resource management on household livelihoods : a case study of the Combomune Community Project, Mozambique.
Since 1998, the communities of Combomune in Southern Mozambique have participated in a project intended to improve the quality of their lives, while ensuring the natural resources they depend on are well managed and sustainably used. The approach employed is Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). CBNRM is the resource conservation and management approach which has emerged as one of the models to involve local communities, previously excluded from conservation and management of natural resources and rural development programs. This model promotes community participation, responsibilities and benefit sharing among stakeholders involved in natural resource management programs. A case study was conducted to assess the impacts of the Combomune CBNRM project on household livelihoods and on the environment. The Combomune CBNRM project is meant to improve the household livelihoods of the Madliwa, Hochane and Chaves communities involved in the management of indigenous forest resources. The involved communities derive direct and indirect benefits from the CBNRM project. These benefits have impacts on household livelihoods and on the environment. The most noted benefits are social and economic changes. These changes have positively affected the living conditions of the involved communities. Further, the study revealed the Combomune CBNRM project charcoal production was the only activity generating monetary income to individual and to community development funds. Monetary income was invested in the improvement of homesteads, the purchase of domestic animals and the development of infrastructure with a high social impact. Water supply, education, health care and household homestead improvements were the major project achievements. The project encouraged environmental friendly practices such as sustainably agricultural activities and a fire management program. Local residents were also encouraged to plant trees on bare soil to protect it from being eroded. The study has not deeply explored the CBNRM project impacts, therefore more case studies are recommended to further explain effective CBNRM project contributions to household livelihoods, so it may be reasonably promulgated as a strategy not only devoted to involve local communities or merely for resource conservation, but as the approach which improves livelihoods of the rural poor.
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