Significance of social networks in sustainable land management in central Ethiopia and eastern Uganda.
Social networks (SNs) are social frameworks that form good entry points for business and socio-economic developments. Social networks are important for small-scale, resource-poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, who overly rely on informal sources of information. SNs provide opportunities for establishing effective functional multi-stakeholder Innovation Platforms (IPs) necessary for catalysing wide adoption of SLM innovations. This paper analyses the significance of SNs in sustainable land management (SLM), focusing on stakeholders’ characteristics and their association among agricultural rural communities in central Ethiopia and eastern Uganda. The analysis conducted in both countries revealed a positive relationship between the strength of social networks and SLM innovation practices. The closeness of centralisation of networks in Ethiopian and Uganda was 56 and 45%, respectively; implying that only about half of the potential networks among partners actually function. The factors associated with strength of the networks included the age, the physical distance between partners, frequency of interaction, and source of information. Unfortunately, significant weaknesses remain in the existing networks. There exist several networks in both countries without active interactions with key actors in land management. Also, private sector networks particularly important in playing critical roles such as fostering market-led innovations for enhanced adoption, are conspicuously lacking.
Key Words: Eastern Africa, highlands, innovation platforms