The role of leadership in the structure and functioning of community based natural resource management organizations : a Zimbabwean case study.
The objective of the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) initiative is to enhance biodi versity conservation through approaches which balance the needs of local communities reliant upon natural resources, with national and international needs in conservation. This is achieved by addressing the imbalances in the distribution of costs and benefits in natural resource man~gement (NRM). So those who live with natural resources should receive benefits for their effort in conservation. Once there is a benefit stream associated with a resource, communities can then be involved in NRM as a long term strategy. In this way sustainable use of resources is promoted. For successful CBNRM, there has to be a vehicle for eliciting community participation and involvement through planning and decision making. In a communal property management regime, there exist sanctions and rewards for conserving/managing the resource. For community management to be successful there has to be an authority which protects the local rights and ensures that duties are fulfilled . This authority has to be local and national. Within the national context, the authority defining rights and duties in NRM is determined by the institutional framework in which the CBNRM initiative operates. At the community level, community leadership institutions are the authority protecting the rights and enforcing duties. Local leadership gains legitimacy from the wider institutional structures and from the community. How community leadership functions determines largely the structure and functioning of the CBNRM initiative locally. The case study of Kanyurira Ward, a community involved in a CBNRM initiative, namely CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe, attempts to find out the role of leadership within the evolving institutional structures in shaping the functioning and structuring of the initiative. Analysis of the historical progression of leadership within the community and the community perceptions on leadership selection, monitoring and evaluation, legitimacy and the distribution ofcosts and benefits between the community and the leadership were used to identify the salient factors for effective and efficient local leadership in CBNRM. 11 The study showed that local leadership effectiveness and community expectations of leaders influence performance based on understanding of the leadership role and objectives of the CBNRM initiative. The environments in which CBNRM programmes operate have forced the community to change its leadership selection and monitoring criteria over time. External agencies have their own role expectations for local leaders based on their organizational goals and objectives. These different leadership role expectations place undue pressure on leaders. Community perceptions on cost -benefit distribution within CBNRM programmes affect the sustainability of the programme as they can be an incentive or disincentives to follow NRM rules. Changes in the institutional structures within the communities due to government policies have resulted in overlaps and conflicts in roles of traditional and modem political leadership. Though traditional leadership does not have formal legitimation, it has community acceptance and has persisted over the years. Approaches within CBNRM, need to be evaluated within the community's and leaders world view so that they can address any imbalances and mismatches in role, status and benefit expectations before negating on the CBNRM objective of community participation with benefits for sustainable NRM and development.