How Social Connections to Local CBNRM Institutions Shape Interaction: A Mixed Methods Case from Namibia

  •  Julie Snorek    
  •  Thomas Kraft    
  •  Vignesh Chockalingam    
  •  Alyssa Gao    
  •  Meghna Ray    


Strong social connections between communities and institutions are essential to effective community-based natural resource management. Connectivity and willingness to engage with actors across scales are related to one’s perceptions of institutions managing natural resources. To better understand how individuals’ perceptions are related to connections between communities and institutions, and how these promote or inhibit interaction across scales, we carried out a mixed methods case study on the multiple actors living and working in the Namib Naukluft National Park in Namibia. We took a descriptive approach to the social network analysis and identified distinct subgroups as well as boundary actors for the community-institutional network. Thereafter, we regressed interview data on connections, perceptions, and willingness to reach out to institutions to understand more about network dynamics. Finally, we performed a qualitative analysis of interview data, to further highlight why community individuals were connected to institutional members. Positive perceptions are associated with greater connectivity for two out of three institutions. Better quality connections between community members and institutions was equated with a greater willingness (of community members) to reach out to an institutional member in only one out of three cases. As in other studies, willingness to reach out may be more strongly correlated to intergroup actor dynamics, as shown by subgrouping in the social network analysis, than one’s perceptions alone. This research highlights that direct interactions between community members and local institutions has the potential to support collaboration in the context of community-based natural resource management.

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