Institutional sustainability: community and waste management in Zimbabwe

Johnson, Hazel and Wilson, Gordon (2000). Institutional sustainability: community and waste management in Zimbabwe. Futures, 32(3) pp. 301–316.



This article addresses sustainability as a social process. In doing so it extends beyond the Brundtland notion of present and 'future generations' to grapple with the divergent social worlds in which the term is constructed by different actors. It is thus concerned with how learning can take place within development interventions to enable actors to build new norms and behaviours which cut across social divides. A framework has been developed to (i) explore and make explicit the assumptions held by stakeholders; (ii) develop an awareness of the nature and practices of accountability; (iii) build an understanding of cause and effect (attribution) in relation to action. It is suggested that structured participation in these processes can help to build inter-organizational and inter-associational learning which can provide the basis for new norms and behaviours stretching beyond the formal life of any intervention (institutional sustainability). The article draws on research from Zimbabwe, however it is suggested that the framework can have applicability in many situations.

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