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A Participatory Modeling Process to Capture Indigenous Ways of Adaptability to Uncertainty: Outputs From an Experiment in West African Drylands

Patrick d'Aquino, CIRAD
Alassane Bah, UMISCO ESP UCAD Dakar


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Over the centuries, local communities have shaped atypical rules to deal with the uncertainty of their environment. They have developed complex prototypes for flexible overlapping institutions and arrangements to adapt their rules and uses to their uncertain environment. Today, this indigenous way of flexibly institutionalizing access rules could provide blueprints for dealing with uncertainty issues resulting from global change as well as designing practical guidelines for implementing resilient management. However, transforming indigenous skills for developing institutional flexibility into operational management rules that are appropriate in the current environmental and socioeconomic context is a huge challenge. However, communities could easily succeed in this reframing because the structuring principles of institutional flexibility are embedded in their mind frame. In this perspective, a participatory modeling process was applied in Senegal to explore, first, how to design a methodological platform to enable local people to shape different forms of environmental management and policies they consider appropriate in the new context of environmental uncertainty by drawing on their own attitudes to environmental management. Second, to increase the value of such “self-designed” outputs in improving knowledge about, and improving, the practical management of uncertainty, especially in drylands.

Key words

environment; indigenous knowledge; management; modeling; participation; Sahel; Senegal; uncertainty;

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087