Publication: Managing Natural Resources Along the Mozambican Shoreline : The Role of Myths and Rites

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Dava, Fernando
Ahmed, Zuber
Easton, Peter
Depletion of natural resources is a national issue, as well as a local one in Mozambique, where numerous communities depend for their survival, on the judicious exploitation of their physical environment. It is particularly felt along the country's extensive coastline, where harvesting sea resources - fish, mussels, and other forms of marine life - is both a source of protein, and of revenue. The note looks at how indigenous forms of management function, and how - if at all - can they be adapted to master new challenges to the natural resource base: population pressure and pollution. It describes the mussel farmers of Zimilene, a small village on the Indian Ocean, and its harvest-catch system, on how it ensures a source for resolving conflicts, and allotting usage rights, that are accepted right down to individual community members. The "rule of law", or the authority of the chiefs, regulate the mussel harvest, anchored in the firm belief that the "spirits" of the ancestors watch over the shoals. Such local system of myths, beliefs, and rites preserved the mussel shoals for generations, though under the pressures afoot in the country - poverty and population density - have pushed them to exploit mussel beds, inconsistently with their traditional management. The challenge is how to blend traditional systems of regulation, myth, and ritual, with an armature to build communal sharing, and a new culture of natural resource management.
Dava, Fernando; Ahmed, Zuber; Easton, Peter. 2002. Managing Natural Resources Along the Mozambican Shoreline : The Role of Myths and Rites. Indigenous Knowledge (IK) Notes; No. 46. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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