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Wetland Management and Sustainable Livelihoods in Africa

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Pub. Date:
Taylor & Francis
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This is the edition with a publication date of 7/10/2013.
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This book argues for a paradigm shift in the way African wetlands are considered. Current policies and wetland management are too frequently underpinned by a perspective that views agriculture simply as a threat and disregards its important contribution to livelihoods. This has to change. In rural areas where people are entrenched in poverty, wetlands (in particular wetland agriculture) have a critical role to play in supporting and developing peoples' livelihoods. Furthermore, as populations rise and climate change takes grip they will be increasingly important. Under these circumstances, the attitude that wetlands should be conserved in a near pristine condition is neither acceptable nor practicable. Of course this does not mean the indiscriminate exploitation of wetlands should be tolerated. Rather an appropriate balance needs to be struck: a balance that enables sustainable agriculture and other livelihood uses to be practised with simultaneous safeguards of other important ecosystem services. The authors argue that this requires an approach to wetland management that is much more people focused. That is an approach that instead of being concerned primarily with environmental outcomes is centred on livelihood outcomes supported by the sustainable use of natural wetland resources. The authors stress the need for Integrated Water Resource Management and landscape approaches to ensure sustainable use of wetlands throughout a river catchment and the need for wetland management interventions to engage with a wide range of stakeholders. They also assess the feasibility of creating incentives and value in wetlands to support sustainable use. Drawing on nine empirical case studies the book highlights the different ways in which sustainable use of wetlands has been sought, each case focusing on specific issues about wetlands, agriculture and livelihoods.

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