Social Inclusion, Customary Rules And Natural Resource Management In Albania

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  • Social Inclusion, Customary Rules And Natural Resource Management In Albania

  • World Bank International Conference

  • on

  • Poverty and Social Inclusion in the Western Balkans

  • Brussels, Belgium, December 14-15, 2010

  • Klodjan Rama and Insa Theesfeld

  • Leibniz-Institute of Agriculture Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO)

  • Theodor-Lieser-Str. 2, D-06120 Halle/Saale, Germany


  • Overview

  • Introduction

  • Methodology

  • Devolution theory

  • Customary rules

    • on natural resource management
    • on social inclusion
  • Forestry case

  • Fishery case

  • Conclusions


  • Albania

    • Population 3.6 mill (est)
    • Rural Pop.: over 50 %
    • Surface: 28.783 sq km
    • Arable land: 21 %
    • Forest area: 36% total area
  • There is a trend to transfer management of ´natural resources to communities


  • Fall of communism in 1991

    • Radical institutional changes on management of natural resources
      • Open-access regimes
    • Institutional overlapping
      • Formal rules
      • Rules-in-use
    • Lack of enforcement capacities
      • Monitoring
      • Sanctioning
  • Lead to negative impacts on natural resources, such as: (i) deforestation (ii) overfishing


  • 19 semi-structured qualitative interviews for the forestry case

    • 12 community members
    • 7 key-informants
  • 25 semi-structured interviews for the fishery case (Oscar Schmidt, 2008)

    • 18 fishermen
    • 7 key informants
  • Informal Conversations

  • Participant Observation (in both cases)

  • Secondary Data

    • Archive documents
    • Reports
    • Statutes

Devolution theory

  • Main assumption

    • Equitable and efficient management of natural resources
      • As people are more likely to respect the rules they have designed themselves
      • High participation of local actors in the decision-making process
      • It provides higher degree of legitimacy
      • Enforcement costs are lower because of trust among community members

Customary Rules- Kanun

  • Kanun is “a set of norms and unwritten laws passed on from generation to generation since medieval times, whose influence is strong even nowadays, regulating the social and juridical life of remote communities in High Albania” (Dictionary of the Modern Albanian Language 2002, p. 548)

  • The unwritten laws (Kanun) emerged to guarantee to everyone, regardless of individual endowments, a fair distribution of best pastures, fertile lands, forests and water for irrigation (Hasluck, 1954).

Customary Rules on Natural Resource Management

  • Natural resources such as forests, fishery, wildlife, groundwater etc, are economic goods known as common-pool resources (CPRs):

      • Low excludability - it is costly, or even impossible, to prevent anyone from enjoying benefits once they are available (Young 2002b)
      • High rivalry – each user is capable of subtracting from the welfare of other users (e.g. a tree which is logged today will not be there for the others)
    • If no institutional arrangements take place to regulate these use patterns, then overexploitation and resource degradation will occur

Customary Rules on Natural Resource Management (cont.)

  • Customary rules are informal institutions that contribute to regulating extraction patterns as well as access conditions in resource use in order to avoid overexploitation

    • They are embedded in communities and evolve with communities
    • They provide:

Customary Rules and Social Inclusion

  • What do we mean by Social Inclusion/Exclusion:

    • an individual is socially excluded if he or she does not participate in key activities of the society in which he or she lives (Burchardt, et al., 2002, p. 30)
      • Dimensions
        • Consumption of goods,
        • production,
        • engagement in decision making
        • and social interaction

Forestry Case

  • The forests (all common natural resources) of Kalaja e Dodes are managed and used by the community members based on their traditional claims.

  • Each household is entitled to extract only two big trees from the common forest every year, with exceptions in case of emergencies.

  • Resource users should transport the haul through the main path-across the centre of the village, so that it can be noticed by the community members

Forestry Case

  • The community has employed a forest guard. Each household contributes 25 Euros per year for monitoring activities.

  • When violations are noticed, the community comes together to decide on the sanctioning measures to be taken.

  • There are regular meetings which usually take place once a week. For extraordinary issues, meetings can be called at any time.

Fishery Case

  • Before 1991, fishery management in Lake Ohrid was state-administered. To date, it is managed by Fishery Management Organization, set up with the support of World Bank.

  • Local governance was found absent

  • Fishery legislation non-compliance continues to be widespread

  • Incongruence and overlapping of rules applying to the resource use, as well as to the decision-making process were noticed

Fishery Case

  • Consequently, there is overfishing, which is caused also by

    • elite capture
    • Power misuse
    • Information asymmetries
  • These factors have lead also to social exclusion of the weaker actors because the determination of beneficiaries and losers is by social affiliation rather than legal entitlement.

  • Ordinary members are kept in the dark regarding the use of the organization's budget and other important organizational issues.


  • Local management of natural resources has shown to bear both sides of the coin, positive and negative.

  • Customary rules provided grounds for a functioning and effective self-governed management system through

    • democratic decision-making procedures
    • Participation
  • Although a local governance regime may help managing natural resources in a sustainable way, there may also face potential drawbacks that can result from imposed institutional arrangements.

  • These drawbacks are characterized by disproportionate appropriation of benefits and exclusion of weak actors.

  • Unsustainable resource management is the result of a mismatch between newly implemented rules and the informal/customary rules in place

  • Social inequalities among resource users are deepened and environmental destruction is aggravated.


          • for your attention!!!

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