Extractive resource politics and government-community engagement in Tanzania: a case of natural gas

Creator: Poncian, Japhace
Relation: University of Newcastle Research Higher Degree Thesis
Resource Type: thesis
Date: 2019
Description: Research Doctorate – Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Description: Managing natural resources continues to be a major challenge in resource-rich developing countries.
This has produced a rich scholarly literature examining the paradox between resource endowments and negative socio-economic outcomes, commonly referred to as the resource curse. There seems to be a consensus that the core problem is one of poor resource governance. If resource governance can be improved, it might be possible to minimise or avoid the trap of the resource curse. Consequently, efforts have been put into promoting better governance of natural resources by improving revenue management, transparency in extractive activities and institution building. In recent years attention has turned to promoting community engagement as part of the effort to improve resource governance. It is the relationship between community engagement and resource governance policy strategies to manage extractive resources that provides the focus for this thesis. A growing weight of scholarly opinion has emerged supporting the view that community engagement in governance processes improves livelihoods, empowers communities, resolves conflicts and promotes resource and/or environmental conservation. For many governments and regional bodies in Africa the real and potential significance of community engagement has prompted its integration into their resource governance policies. This has been particularly pronounced in the area of renewable resources governance where governments have been open to ideas about community engagement. But in the area of extractive resources there has been considerably less emphasis placed on meaningfully integrating community engagement into the governance of extractive resources. In Tanzania, there appears to have been a concerted effort by the government to initiate and promote community engagement strategies in the extractive resources sector as part of its policy reforms. However, questions arise as to what the government means by ‘community engagement’ and how it has sought to promote that. Exploring these questions forms the central thread of this thesis, which in turn involves pursuing answers to several other questions, such as: What policies have been developed and implemented by the government to bring about effective community engagement in natural gas governance? To what extent have these policies succeeded in realising the government’s aims? What might be the strengths and limitations of current government-community engagement arrangements? To address these questions, this thesis has adopted a qualitative case study approach informed by a libertarian socialist framework. The findings from this study show that the government frames community engagement in natural gas governance around two main issues: 1) economic participation, and 2) infrastructure safety and protection. Its strategies for engagement centre upon creating economic benefits and ensuring sector stability. While these are mostly in line with many of the expectations of the local communities in Mtwara and Lindi, these communities want more than just economic benefits. They want to participate in and influence decisions about natural gas development and, more importantly, about how they benefit from gas projects. In this respect, and despite the government’s formal statements and policy frameworks, it appears that the government has not empowered the communities in the ways anticipated by those communities. Rather, the evidence suggests two things. First, that the engagement is experienced by the communities as manipulation rather than as genuine participation in decision-making. Second, the government’s idea of community engagement is seen as a means to serve the government’s own agenda. In part this is accentuated by the fact that there is no requisite government policy for engagement in decision-making processes as the only policy framework in place caters for economic participation. Hence, this thesis concludes that there is a need for a formal community engagement policy to be developed and implemented that is not simply focused on economic participation. Rather, such an engagement policy should provide a framework to define and guide community engagement in ways that empower communities to be part of the planning and decision-making processes in the governance of extractive resources. This would also enable the government to add real meaning to its goal of economic participation in ways that would assist it to achieve balanced socio-economic development and well-being and improve Tanzania’s chances of avoiding the trap of the resource curse.

Rights Copyright 2019 Japhace Poncian

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