What “community” means for farmer adoption of conservation practices: Some logic and evidence.

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  • 1. What does “community” mean for farmer adoption of conservation practices? Some logic and evidence Graham Marshall Institute for Rural Futures, Uni. of New England
  • 2.  
  • 3.
    • “ We are trying to encourage a process of self-help … Some day the local community has to pick up all this.”
    • - Commonwealth Dep’t Primary Industries & Energy, 1989.
  • 4.
    • “ A strong feeling of ownership over the NRM planning process will increase motivation and likelihood that the outcomes identified in the regional integrated NRM plans are achieved.”
    • - National NRM Capacity Building Framework, 2002
  • 5. Key points
    • The raison d’etre of community-based NRM lies in helping people to help themselves
    • We need to acknowledge, understand, and learn how to address the “Samaritan’s Dilemma” that faces us in helping farmers’ self-help
    • Targets, program logic, and M & E need, at all levels, to change as we learn.
  • 6. Origins and evolution of rural CBNRM in Australia
    • Prior approaches to helping farmers conserve natural resources fostered dependency
    • NRM programs seek to help people manage their resource problems
    • Community-based NRM programs seek to help people to help themselves
  • 7.
    • CBNRM soon became understood mainly through the lens of “extension thinking”
    • Rural extension was the dominant social-scientific tradition for agricultural issues
    • Governments concerned that farmers lacked awareness, knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to address NRM issues
    • Political reasons for CBNRM focusing “community” programs on extension
  • 8.
    • Politicians/officials attracted by lure of CBNRM stretching funds further by ‘kick starting’ local voluntarism
    • Ongoing financial support comes to be accepted, but emphasis on self-help persists
  • 9. The Samaritan’s Dilemma
  • 10.
    • “ The paradox of supplying help to self-help is the fundamental conundrum of all helping relationships. Most external help actually overrides or undercuts the budding capacity for self-help and thus ends up being unhelpful”.
    • - David Ellerman, 2007.
  • 11.
    • 1978 ~ James Buchanan developed a game-theory model of this paradox called the “Samaritan’s Dilemma”
    • Self-interest of helper propels unconditional help, thus weakening self-help
      • compulsion to see problems solved
      • empire-building, turf protection, “getting money out the door”
      • scepticism about recipient capacities for self-help
    • The helper needs “strategic courage”
      • but Buchanan felt increasing wealth had made “soft options” too hard to resist
  • 12.
    • 1979 ~ The neo-liberal “revolution” begins (with Thatcherism)
    • Strong on strategic courage, but weak on theory
    • Committed to smaller government and reciprocity
    • Focus on market (and market-like) solutions
    • Purchaser-provider arrangements embraced
    • Reciprocity to be enforced by rigorous accountability measures
  • 13. Helping self-help under regional NRM delivery
  • 14.
    • Regional delivery model a neo-liberal exercise in “new public management”
    • Stringent financial accountability measures follow frustrations with “cost shifting”
    • But coercing reciprocity is costly
      • Limited resources to monitor compliance with conditions attached to help
      • Difficult to establish the “without help scenario”
  • 15.
    • Most farmer lapses in reciprocating help may be motivated unconsciously by reduced pressure to help themselves, eg. by
      • reducing land-use intensity
      • keeping up with R&D
      • experimenting with solutions on-farm
      • sending kids to university
      • cooperating with neighbours
    • Help is unlikely to strengthen farmer self-help substantially unless most of their reciprocity is voluntary
  • 16. CBNRM, farmers, and reciprocity
  • 17.
    • Robert Axelrod identified two ways of promoting reciprocity:
    • Change the payoffs (to make reciprocity consistent with actors’ goals); and/or
    • Make the future more important relative to the present (“enlarge the shadow of the future”)
  • 18. How might CBNRM “change the payoffs”?
    • Greater “community ownership” of decisions by farmers?
    • Greater “ownership” of funds by administrators increases their strategic courage?
    • Or … community body less able to deny help when reciprocity requires?
      • advantages of government acting as “bad cop”
  • 19. How might CBNRM enlarge the “shadow of the future”?
    • Easier mutual monitoring by helpers and recipients?
    • More durable interactions between helpers and recipients?
    • More frequent interactions between helpers and recipients?
  • 20. Some evidence
  • 21. Method
    • Survey a sample of farmers
    • Measure their (a) trust in their community-based agency, and (b) intentions to adopt practices it promotes to them.
    • Test statistically whether the relationship between trust and intentions is positive (indicating reciprocity).
    • Control for influence of other relevant factors.
  • 22.
    • Two projects:
    • Land and Water Management Planning (LWMP) in NSW’s Murray Irrigation Districts - surveyed 1999.
    • Regional NRM delivery in 3 NRM regions – surveyed 2006:
      • Fitzroy Basin (Qld)
      • Mallee (Vic)
      • South West Catchments (WA).
  • 23.
    • 7,490 km 2 ; 25,000 people; 1,610 farms.
    • Historic antagonism between irrigators and NSW Government
    • 1991 ~ Start developing community-based plans focused on irrigation salinity
    • 1996 ~ Murray Irrigation Ltd, co-owned by irrigators, made responsible for ensuring farmers help implement the LWMPs by complying with their cost-sharing commitments .
    Murray LWMP project
  • 24.
    • A significant positive relationship was found between farmers’ intentions to comply and their trust in their community-based corporation
    • Indicates that farmers were interacting with CBNRM arrangements on the basis of reciprocity
  • 25. Regional delivery project
    • Fitzroy Basin Region
      • 156,000 km 2 ; 200,000 people.
      • CBNRM body is Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA)
    • Central Highlands sub-region
      • 45,000 km 2 ; 20,000 people.
      • CBNRM body is Central Highlands Resources Use Planning Cooperative (CHRRUP)
  • 26.
    • Mallee Region
      • 39,000 km 2 ; 65,000 people.
      • focused on dryland area of region.
      • CBNRM body is Mallee Catchment Management Authority.
      • NRM delivery not devolved to sub-regional level
  • 27.
    • South West Catchments Region
      • 51,657 km 2 ; 193,000 people; 5,000 farms.
      • CBNRM body is South West Catchments Council.
    • Blackwood Basin sub-region
      • 23,500 km 2 ; 37,000 people; 2,000 farms.
      • CBNRM body is Blackwood Basin Group (BBG).
  • 28.
    • Given the
    • (a) greater scales of the regional-delivery cases, compared with the LWMP case, and
    • (b) logic that increased scale lessens farmer incentives to practise reciprocity,
    • … Farmer reciprocity was expected to be weaker in the regional-delivery cases
    • … Although less weakened when delivery was devolved to the sub-regional level.
  • 29.
    • Models were estimated for each of the 22 key conservation practices promoted across the three regions (7 by CHRRUP, 7 by Mallee CMA, 8 by BBG)
    • Only one model (4.5%) indicated farmers were practising reciprocity with their regional CBNRM body
    • This model was for the Mallee Region, where farmer interaction with the regional body was not reduced by presence of a sub-regional body
    • In the two regions with sub-regional bodies, 9 of the 15 models (60%) indicated farmers were practising reciprocity with their subregional body
  • 30.
    • Devolving “NRM helping” to CBNRM arrangements can be effective in strengthening farmer capacities for self-help, although this benefit declines with increasing scale of CBNRM
    • Caveat: Conclusions based on a limited set of cases – hypotheses only.
  • 31. Conclusions
  • 32.
    • The raison d’etre of community-based NRM lies in helping people to help themselves
    • It is about making community members more likely to reciprocate the help given them under CBNRM
    • Help from CBNRM may include leadership, networking, R&D, financial incentives, social incentives, regulation, extension, etc.
      • Extension is important but only part of the picture
  • 33.
    • We need to acknowledge, understand, and learn systematically how to solve the Samaritan’s Dilemma
    • A “business approach” to CBNRM requires us – at all levels - to devise targets, milestones, program logics and M&E strategies accordingly.
  • 34. Key points
    • The raison d’etre of community-based NRM lies in helping people to help themselves
    • We need to acknowledge, understand, and learn how to address the “Samaritan’s Dilemma” that faces us in helping farmers’ self-help
    • Targets, program logic, and M & E need, at all levels, to change as we learn.
  • 35.