Traditional local institutions were studied in the highlands of Ethiopia and Tanzania to understand their role in natural resource management. Focus group discussions as well as individual interviews were conducted to identify the existing local institutions and their roles. Historical trend analyses were done to determine how the importance of local institutions has changed over the years. Results show that several local institutions with diverse objectives and varying levels of importance exist in the study sites. The article suggests ways in which local institutions can contribute to effective natural resource management for sustainable social and economic development of highland communities in eastern Africa.

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