Academic journal article African Studies Review

Of Global Concern: Rural Livelihood Dynamics and Natural Resource Governance

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Of Global Concern: Rural Livelihood Dynamics and Natural Resource Governance

Article excerpt

Kjell Havnevik, Tekeste Negash, and Atakilte Beyene, eds. Of Global Concern: Rural Livelihood Dynamics and Natural Resource Governance. Stockholm: SIDA, 2006. 263 pp. Tables. Figures. References. Appendix. Annex. List of acronyms. No price reported. Paper.

This edited collection by Havnevik, Negash, and Beyene should be read as halfway between an academic book and a donor-commissioned research report. Published in the Swedish International Development Agency's "SIDAstudies" series, it attempts the hard job of putting research content in policy advice with a style that is meant to captivate both policymakers and academics engaged "on the ground." Having attempted on occasion such "compromise" writing myself, I am sympathetic toward the difficulties in achieving results that can please both communities. Fortunately, the book does not read as a policy document with simplistic recommendations, but attempts in a fairly honest way to address the complexities of rural livelihoods and natural resource governance to highlight the limitations and contradictions of policymaking and donor support in Africa and elsewhere.

The volume consists of a well-structured introduction providing a background, an overview of the chapters and of cross-cutting issues, and some broad policy implications. The background takes the reader historically from the agricultural and rural policies of the 1980s and 1990s to the current "sustainable livelihoods" approach via the emergence of the concept of "governance." The chapters cover a variety of topics and of geographical settings (with case studies covering Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, India, and-in a refreshingly introspective way-Sweden). Although the introduction attempts to develop some unifying themes (complexity of rural livelihoods, access to land, global governance creating space for action "from below"), unfortunately the chapters do not follow an explicit logic. …

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