Date of Award:

12-2010

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Environment and Society

Advisor/Chair:

David L. Coppock

Abstract

Rhetoric of "community-based conservation" has gained prominence among development specialists and environmentalists, yet such projects are often implemented from the top-down in Africa. This dissertation contends that only a bottom-up approach can foster resilient livelihoods and environmental stewardship. This study focused on determinants of household resilience within a poverty-stricken agricultural community near Gombe Stream National Park (GSNP) in western Tanzania. The research purpose was to explore: 1) relationships between villagers and GSNP management; 2) how groups and individuals view priority livelihood problems and solutions; 3) various attributes of households; and 4) perceived trends for household resilience and how these are related to natural, social, human, and financial capital as per the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF). A mixed-methods approach provided qualitative and quantitative assessments. Data collection consisted of Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and household surveys. The RRA was conducted adjacent to GSNP while other work was implemented over a larger area. Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi square, and logistic regression. Regression examined relationships between trends in resilience variables (quality of life or ability to solve problems) versus trends in capital. Results from the RRA indicated high polarization and problems between villagers and GSNP management. A more complex picture, however, emerged from subsequent investigations revealing that the most important issues facing local communities were inadequate public services, ineffective leadership, and development isolation. This situation was exacerbated by population growth, poverty, and environmental decline. Regression results identified lack of income, manual labor, and skills and knowledge as factors undermining household resilience. Other data indicated a need for improving farming systems. In conclusion, while all forms of capital mattered to resilience, human and financial were most lacking. Knowledge of such variation strengthens future applications of the SLF. Practical implications include how an indigenous educational institution, the Gombe School of Environment and Society (GOSESO), could operate in the area. The GOSESO needs to adopt a bottom-up, participatory approach that emphasizes capacity building for poverty reduction and conservation. This could allow for broader goals of economic and cultural vitality, as well as environmental stewardship, to be achieved.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on December 23, 2010.

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