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Annex F - Categorizing Conflicts

Categorization of conflicts was seen as a way to standardize different conflicts. Natural resource conflicts can be categorized based on the actors involved, the stakes associated with the conflict and the resources. 30 The most appropriate way of categorizing a conflict depends on the objective of conflict management. Conferees suggested that categorizing natural resource conflicts assists in managing the various dimensions and levels of complexity. This makes it easier to identify how to address a conflict.

This annex reviews two typologies presented during the e-conference: categorization of conflicts based on the `level' of conflict and the cause of the conflict.

30. Within the arena of natural resources, Thomas Homer-Dixon (1991) categorizes conflicts as: 'simple scarcity conflicts' that arise over the use of resources and; 'group identity conflicts' that can arise from the large-scale movement of populations brought about by environmental change (occurring due to migration resulting from resource change and other economic, social and political conditions, bringing together differing interests over the same resource). The third category is 'relative deprivation conflicts' whereby developing societies produce less wealth because of environmental problems and, as a result, their citizens become increasingly disconnected by the widening gap between the actual level of economic achievement and the level they feel they deserve (Homer-Dixon, 1991).

Levels of conflict

Typifying conflicts based on the level at which they occur involves identifying the actors in the conflict. There are five main levels at which conflicts occur -- the household level, the intra-community level, the intercommunity level, local level, national level and international level. Such a classification scheme is also applicable for latent conflicts.

Conflicts at the household level. This includes conflicts between members of same household, such as siblings, husband and wife, a senior and younger member of a household.

Conflicts at the intra-community level. This category encompasses conflicts between members of the same community. Examples of such conflicts include gender-based conflicts since women rarely have the opportunity or support to voice their interests. This category also includes conflicts between members of the community who are marginalised by the more powerful individuals or groups in the community.

Conflicts at the intercommunity level. This level includes conflicts between two communities or members of two communities, Such conflicts can occur as a result of unclear land boundaries demarcating which community has access to what resources. Intercommunity conflicts can arise because of external policies that change the relationship between the community and the natural resource. Such conflicts are often more pronounced because traditional mechanisms that previously managed conflicts are weak and do not form the same basic point of reference anymore.

Conflicts at the local level. This level includes conflicts between communities and local level governments or other local institutions.

Conflicts at the national level. These can result from policies that affect natural resource use. At the national level, conflicts often involve gazetted forests, conservation areas and priorities placed on national interests - using the natural resource for commercial purposes, rather than local interests. Although the community is part of the nation, often the national interests structure the patterns of resource use with limited consideration of local practices. In such situations, the benefits that result from commercial use of the resource are often not made available to the communities that are most affected by the change.

Conflicts at the international level. This category often includes conflicts that result from migration, trade bans and boycotts, and other expressed international interest in a certain resource base. They occur over resources that are shared at the boundaries of nations.

Identifying the level at which the conflict occurs also helps identify the mechanisms that would be appropriate to manage and address the situation. However, this same classification system (i.e., levels of conflict) can be used to categorize conflicts based on the geographic boundary of the conflict or the level at which the conflict is manifested. The latter, however, does not necessarily capture all the actors indirectly involved in the conflict. For example, the situation of the Barabaig in Tanzania can be considered a national conflict since it is between the Barabaig and the national government over use of land resources. This same classification can be used to categorize the level at which conflicts manifest. In such cases, it is important to distinguish between the level at which natural resource conflicts manifest themselves and the level at which they are caused.

Immediate causes

Another way of classifying conflicts is when the cause of conflict forms the basis for the classification system. In such a classification system it is important to consider whether the causes used for classifying the conflicts are the immediate causes, intermediate cause or root causes. The classification system should use a consistent type of cause for its categories. In the list provided below, the categories could be applied for any level of cause.

Conflicts over access. This includes conflicts that result as a consequence of a change in access or inequitable access. Examples of such conflicts include:

Conflicts due to change in resource quality and availability. The cause of these conflicts can be either a change in the `amount' of the resource available to the different parties or the quality of the same amount of resource. For example:

Conflicts regarding authority over resource. Such conflicts stem from a shift in decision-making authority over a resource (this does not require a change of access or of the resource, only perceived authority). For example:

Conflicts that are value based. These can result from differences in use and non-use economic values associated with the resource, as well as differences in cultural, ethical or religious values. Examples include:

Conflicts associated with information processing and availability. This category of cause encompasses lack of participation of all the stakeholders, limited information availability and uncertainty (this can make people process information in a certain way). Examples include:

Conflicts resulting because of legal/policy reasons. These conflicts can result from different interests in different institutions. Examples include:

It is important to trace the deeper causes for. conflict and examine how these created the situation that gave rise to conflict. By doing so, the conflict can be addressed at all the stages of the conflict cycle, and the chance of a conflict reoccurring, is diminished. When examining the conflict at the deeper level it is important to understand the interrelationship between the economic, political, social and environmental dimensions of the conflict. For example, structural adjustment programmes impact local communities since they put the resource that communities previously managed and used under threat of being handed over for private ownership and use. This would modify the rights and access to the resource of local communities where priority for economic gain and privatization is not there. The preceding categories are applicable for both hidden and open conflicts, and often assist in determining how to best address the conflict.

Gathering information

It is also possible to categorize the tools used in a conflict. This activity was done in E-Working Group 2, using information from the Ngorongoro case. A proposed categorization scheme is presented here below.

Community groups. Community groups gathered information about the formulation of the management plan from community representatives who were approached by the NCAA. The residents of the Crater learned that the management plan had been adopted from the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Nairobi (although there is no specification regarding the channel of communication). This highlights the lack of direct communication between the NCAA (the planners) and the villagers.

Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs). Specifically IUCN, in conjunction with the NCAA, held meetings and workshops during the formulation of the management plan. For the video recording, a member of a local pastoral NGO working in the area, received information about the conflict directly from the Masai.

Government institutions. The NCAA, with technical and financial support from IUCN, gathered information using participatory methods, which included:


Between and within communities. The NCA represents 13 different villages, with five on the boundaries. There is no specific documentation on how these villages communicate within or amongst each other.

Between communities and NGOs. Communication between the local pastoral NGO and communities for planning and production of the video occured through meetings, which were organized by the local leaders and conducted in the Maa language following a traditional meeting form known as `Enkigwana' (the objective of these meetings was to get input on the General Management Plan (GMP)). The person responsible for filming the video comes from one of the local villages and is well-known in the area. Feedback was received from the six traditional leaders and elders, who appear in the video, prior to presenting the video to the NCAA. All communication between IUCN and the communities seems to have been through the NCAA.

Between communities and government institutions. The locally-produced video was presented to the Chief Conservator of the NCAA and the Pastoral Council (part of the NCAA. The NCAA teams visited the villages where they made presentations (in Kiswahili, English and Maa) regarding the formulation of the GMP. The NCAA wrote [letters] to village chairmen and councillors in preparation for public meetings. Village leaders and women's groups were invited to take part in the meetings for the formulation of the plan. The NCAA extension team visited all the villages and distributed copies of a summary in the Swahili language to the local leaders, and people were encouraged to submit their written comments.

Between NGOs and government organizations, donors, private organizations and other NGOs. The NCAA invited NGOs to take part in public meetings during the formulation of the plan. The FTPP, IUCN and the NCAA held meetings to discuss the video and the management plan. The NCAA has identified the people involved in the making of the video, which they feel caused the conflict, and requested them to provide information. The criteria that were used in the selection of the people interviewed was defined. How the management plan was presented to those interviewed was reviewed and the nature of the questions that were put to those interviewed was examined.

Analysing conflict

Communities. The communities analyse the conflict with regard to the implication of the management plan on their livelihood, i.e., the ban on cultivation (stake approach). The communities contend that the conservation organizations place more value on wildlife than on the Masai people. This is based on the history of their relationship, whereby they have been relocated from other areas that have been turned into conservation areas. The communities interpret the management plan as representing policies that are geared towards depriving them of their land.

NGOS. FTPP is analysing this conflict with regard to the inequity represented by the planning and the proposed implementation process of the plan. IUCN, a conservation NGO, has highlighted the conservation value of the crater (classified as an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site) which, together with the Serengeti, supports the largest concentration of wildlife on earth. IUCN's stake in this conflict seems to be the natural resource conservation component of the management plan.

Government. The Ngorongoro crater generates significant economic benefits for the NCAA. Therefore the NCAA is analysing this conflict with regard to the impact the continued occupation of the crater by the Masai will have on the capacity of the crater to generate this revenue.

Managing conflict

Communities. The communities are lobbying the international community through the video. They have formed strategic alliances with FTPP and have threatened to discontinue their cooperation in protecting the wildlife in the crater. A court case will be considered as a final resolution.

NGOs. The NGOs are negotiating/lobbying the NCAA on behalf of the communities. They are creating awareness at the local, regional and international level about the difficulties faced by pastoralist groups when their interests compete with those of conservation agencies.

Government. Given the fact that most of the Masai (even those in the video) do not understand the content of the management plan, the government struggled with acknowledging the existence of conflicts between the GMP and village needs. The formation of a task force to look into the contentious issues of cultivation in the crater and land tenure is needed.

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