Using social network analysis to understand actor participation and influence on sustainable management of Rugezi wetland, Rwanda
Wetlands provide essential goods and services to sustain human well-being. Sustainable management of wetland is complex due competing interests and require the participation of different actors. However, there is little attention on systematic analysis of actor participation in wetland management. This paper uses Social Network Analysis (SNA) approach to analyse how actors with different interests, resources, and perceptions participate in governance arenas to influence the management of Rugezi Wetland. SNA centrality scores show that government organisations and one NGO HELPAGE occupy central positions in the network whereas Community Based Organisations occupy peripheral positions. Mann-Witney U Test shows that these central actors are able to advance their agenda incorporated in perceptions and interests on erosion control, decentralisation and local economic development, issues of illegal use of resources and lack of funds to implement livelihoods opportunities for households which depend on the use of the wetland resources. Peripheral actors advocate issues of compensation and land grabbing from buffer zone establishment and wetland resources uses for livelihoods, but are unable to influence the central actors's agenda. SNA E-I Index reveals that government organisations are more cohesive and able to form strong ties with donors to advance their agenda through political authority resource than NGOs and CBOs. In contrast, peripheral actors, mainly CBOs are less cohesive and more tied to NGOs and local government organisations through labour provision resource in the implementation of interventions. There is a trade-off between level participation and influence among actors that can be addressed through the establishment of a coordination body able to reduce the influence of state organisations and permit CBOs and NGOs to access to different resources such as funds and expertise.
Keywords: Actor participation, Centrality Scores, E-I index, Governance arenas, Social Network Analysis, Sustainable Wetland Management