Social and ecological sustainability in the use of biotic resources in sub-Saharan Africa

Mwangi-Wa-Githinji, Charles Perrings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


The paper adapts the ecological concept of sustainability that derives from the work of Holling to explain the evolution of institutions in rural sub-Saharan Africa, and to see why policies designed to alleviate the degradation of rangelands in Botswana and Kenya through institutional reform have not been as successful as hoped. It is argued that the reason why these and other institutional initiatives have had limited success is that they took little account of the role of the institutions they were intended to replace in guaranteeing the social security of individual resource users, and failed to address that role. Using the term social sustainability to describe the ability of social institutions to continue functioning in the face of stress and shock, shows that the new policies were compromised precisely because they were not socially sustainable. The main policy implication of the paper is that institutional initiatives should address the needs satisfied by the structures they replace, if they are not to provoke conflicting evolutionary response on the part of those institutions. -Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAmbio
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering


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