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Understanding inter-community performance assessments in community-based resource management at Avu Lagoon, Ghana

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Community-based natural resources governance (CBNRG) is becoming increasingly important as a means to achieve both conservation and sustainable livelihood goals. Assessing the performance of such approaches is an important step in improving their performance and facilitating their expansion. However, CBNRG initiatives are often not restricted to one community, and significant differences may exist among communities that can be obscured using performance assessments that do not attend to those differences. This paper first assesses the performance of the Avu Lagoon Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) in Ghana through a survey of 232 households and an 18 participant workshop that compares desired outcomes with those outcomes that were perceived to have been achieved (i.e. performance). This paper next examines the differences among four communities within the Avu Lagoon CREMA and provides some insight as to why these differences occur. Results indicate that overall, achieved outcomes fall short of desired outcomes. This is particularly the case for socio-economic outcomes and less so for conservation outcomes. We also find that communities are more homogenous in their desired outcomes than they are in their assessment of performance outcomes. There are important differences among the four communities in terms of the importance attached to outcomes and the achievement of those outcomes. Influential variables include how and who introduced the CBNRG concept to the local communities, existing socio-economic and cultural context, the development status and challenges of the community, effective leadership, and institutional capabilities.

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  1. This research was conducted as part of a larger research programme entitled ‘Protected Areas and Poverty Reduction: A Canada-Africa Research and Learning Alliance (PAPR)’. Funding for PAPR comes from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the International Development Research Centre under the International Community-University Research Alliance Program.

  2. Ramsar sites are designated wetlands of international importance.

  3. In Ghana, communities and villages are so-called or described depending on the population of the settlement. Villages tend to be settlements (clustered or dispersed) that have smaller populations. On the other hand, communities are settlements with much higher populations and a higher mix of persons who are not necessarily related in terms of family, clan, religion, or any other characteristic.

  4. The population of the four communities was estimated by the writer using 2000 population figures by the Ghana Statistical Service for the locality and the district. Projection was made with 2010 district figures and the 2000 figures to arrive at this estimate.

  5. A community that is transitioning from rural to urban setting.

  6. To avoid bias, the research assistant team was constituted mostly by local people that were not directly involved with the CREMA process. In addition, those who were members of CREMA communities did not survey their own communities.

  7. Community Resource Management Committee is the governance unit at the individual CREMA community level.


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Correspondence to Andrew Kyei Agyare.

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Agyare, A.K., Murray, G., Dearden, P. et al. Understanding inter-community performance assessments in community-based resource management at Avu Lagoon, Ghana. Environ Dev Sustain 17, 1493–1508 (2015).

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