Institutional dilemmas in tropical resource management: a case study of Kakamega forest, Kenya
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The study examines the institutional dilemmas in the management of tropical resources. Specifically, this study is interested in forest biodiversity as the resource in question. The main objective of this study is to establish and ascertain whether there are conflicting notions of biodiversity in Kenya and if there are, we are interested in finding out how such conflicting positions are institutionalised. In pursuit of the above objective, the study uses a case study of Kakamega forest. The study primarily used institutional mapping methods in generating and collecting data at the national and regional and local levels. The findings reveal that forest biodiversity in a tropical country like Kenya is associated with a number of benefits and these are central in the framing and/or shaping of the institutions at both the national, regional and local levels. Because these are structurally different, in most cases they represent the cause of institutional conflict. What is most intriguing however, is that the Kakamega scenario demonstrates that one of the biggest challenges in the management of tropical resources lies in the absence of institutional mediation mechanisms at both national/regional and local levels. The analysis from this study has revealed that this is the central cause of institutional dysfunctioning in tropical resource management. This also illuminates the dilemmas that bedevil many natural resource rich countries especially in the tropics. In that regard, institutional options especially those targeting forest biodiversity management should be locally adapted and therefore centrally/regionally mediated, because of the role local forest resources play in the lives of local communities around the forest. In the same respect institutionalised participation and mediation in the decision-making/taking is a necessary prerequisite.