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The Dangers of Natural Resources Decentralization: Decentralized Forest Management, (Local) Development and the Making of A Big Man in the Dimako Council, Cameroon

Ofoulhast-Othamot, Gildas/A. (2012) The Dangers of Natural Resources Decentralization: Decentralized Forest Management, (Local) Development and the Making of A Big Man in the Dimako Council, Cameroon. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Throughout the world decentralized experiments in natural resources management are being attempted on the assumption that through the inclusion of those who were formerly excluded - local/rural communities and governments- the management of those resources as well as local/rural living conditions shall be improved. In Cameroon, following the 1994 landmark Forest Law which transferred some powers, resources and responsibilities to local actors, two primary modes of decentralized forest management were conceived community and council forests. Whereas, in the more than fifteen years since the 1994 reform, community forests have been the object of intense scholarly attention, the study of council forests has lagged behind in spite of the fact that earlier studies had highlighted the predicaments of the overall forest management decentralization. This study sought to fill that gap in the literature.
The central question addressed in this dissertation was straightforward: why did the forest management decentralization fail to achieve the goals of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and local development in Dimako Council? In order to answer that question, the dissertation examined the case of the Dimako Council and the Dimako Council Forest. That case was significant because it represented the first experiment in natural resources management by an elected local government in the entire Congo Basin, the second largest reservoir of tropical forests after the Amazon.
The empirical research found that the forest management decentralization in Dimako Council failed to achieve the goals of SFM and local development because the Mayor of Dimako, taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by the forest law, captured the council forest and utilized it for power-building purposes, thereby earning him the status of a Big Man. Overall, the main contribution of the study is to show that the decentralization theory of natural resources management instead of solving the ‘bad’ governance issues that it reportedly identified in the first place has in effect extended and entrenched the reach of the patrimonial state as well as aggravated the state of affairs in Dimako, leading to questions about its relevance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ofoulhast-Othamot, Gildas/A.gyo1@pitt.eduGYO1
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPicard, Louis/A.picard@pitt.eduPICARD
Committee MemberStaniland, Martinmstan@pitt.eduMSTAN
Committee MemberWhite, Harvey/L.hlw@pitt.eduHLW
Committee MemberPeters, B. Guybgpeters@pitt.eduBGPETERS
Date: 30 January 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 October 2011
Approval Date: 30 January 2012
Submission Date: 16 November 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 452
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Decentralized Forest Management, Cameroon, Big Man, Natural Resources Management, Decentralization, Africa
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2012 14:19
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2017 06:15


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