The Impacts Of Development Interventions On Customary Institutions Of Forest Resource Management among the Borana Oromo of Southern Ethiopia

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This thesis is about the impacts of development interventions on customary institutions of forest resource management, among the Borana Oromo of Southern Ethiopia. The study is initiated as result of observation of deforestation of the Borana forestlands. There are, of course, natural factors that contribute to the deforestation, such as climate change. But the prime factors are the inappropriate development interventions into the customary institutions of resource management. This led to overpopulation, shrinking of .the Boranaland and weakening of customary institutions. The results are pressure on forest, competition over forest resources and deforestation. The :,tudy planned to assess the general impacts of development interventions on costomary institutions of forest resource management and socio-cultural aspects of the community. The qualitative method based on primary and secondary sources were used in data gathering for the study. The primary data were generated from observation, iu-depth interview, focus group discussion, case study and informal discussion; whereas, secondary data were collected through consultation of related literatures. To analyze those data, the researcher used theory of common-pool resources. The results of the study depict that most of the ceremonial grounds and holy trees of the Borana are sited inside the forest areas. The mobile ritual villages of the Borana usually reside inside the forests to perform various cultural practices and thus, the belief systems attached to the forest grounds are the basic means of forest management. Moreover, different customary institutions at various levels and their members are responsible for forest management. However, development interventions such as urbanization, state structure and pastoral development programs and policies ignored the customary institutions of resource management and used the top-down development approach. The impacts of inappropriate development interventions brought erosion of customary institutions, change of range ecology and shrinkage of the Boranaland that led to competition over forest resource and deforestation. Therefore, the thesis has emphasized the need for another alternative to recognize customary institutions of forest management and in such a way that the forest resources will be conserved wisely. By doing so, there are points to be considered before hand. The usually opposing structures of the customary systems and the state at the local level should integrate in the resource management systems. Or, the one that is presumed better in resource management should be given the independent authority to manage resources. After all, participatory development approach should be employed from the problem identification, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases.