Improving rural livilihoods in semi-arid regions through management of micro-catchments
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This paper reviews some of the issues that need to he considered in external initiatives aimed at improving rural livelihoods and alleviating poverty in semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe through promoting enhanced community-based management of common-pool resources. Particular emphasis is given to the requirements for communal management of micro-catchments in the context of securing both the yield and quality of water delivered by surface and subsurface flow to productive water points (PWPs). These PWPs can be collector wells, conventional wells and boreholes, or dams and weirs. Their key feature is that the water is used primarily for irrigating market gardens, or fodder crops for dairy cattle, or for some other income generating activity. The hypothesis is advanced that the presence of a PWP is an entry point to initiating a broader range of community-based management initiatives intended to optimize the use of common-pool resources in the catchments of these productive water points. The review first examines some key biophysical and socio-economic features of rural communities in the semi-arid regions of southern Zimbabwe, to identify the main constraints and opportunities that shape the current livelihood strategies of the people living in this area. This is followed by an analysis of the tenurial and institutional contexts within which any attempts at collective management and use of common-pool resources must function. Options for the management of water and other resources in the micro-catchments of PWPs are then considered. The review ends with some thoughts on how an integrated approach to microcatchment management might be achieved.