The present century has seen a significant real increase in resource conflict in semi-arid Africa. The most important causes of this are human population increase and the globalisation of the economy.
Such conflicts reflect both point resources (mines, farms, reserves) and ecozonal conflicts (water, grazing and hunting rights). Although attempts to involve the community have been partially successful in relation to reserved land, conflict over extensive and patchy common property resources such as wetlands and grazing has made them more difficult to conserve and manage.
This paper describes the main categories of conflict and suggests a classification. It summarises the various mechanisms proposed for their resolution and makes some policy recommendations as to how an understanding of resource conflict can be better incorporated into development planning.