If you want to see why natural resources matter for local-level democracy, look no further than Namibia.
Across this breathtakingly beautiful country, a remarkable social and economic experiment has been going on for nearly two decades: devolving rights to manage and benefit from the use of natural resources from the national government to rural black communities.
Empowering communities with a bundle of secure rights over natural resources has not only produced notable conservation and economic returns. It has helped build stronger, more representative governance institutions in a country that suffered under decades of oppressive colonial and South African rule.
Namibia is one of Africa’s youngest countries. After gaining its independence from South Africa in 1990 following a long civil war, the new government looked for ways to rebuild, promote economic development, and support the empowerment of its black citizens.