The Dinabe: A social convention between local communities

The dina is a traditional social convention that helps regulate life in Madagascar communities. It enables local communities to develop a set of rules and regulations to govern a particular set of circumstances and is commonly used in relation to natural resource management. Dinas are developed in a participatory manner and given legal weight through their homologation in local courts. Their enforcement lies with the local community. In the case of Antongil Bay, 26 dinas were created – one for each fishers association in each locally managed marine reserve. The dinas encompass:

  1. a set of regulations for the principal infractions (destructive gear, fish minimum size, etc.),
  2. a set of regulations in accordance with the local context (taboos, night fishing regulations, etc.), and
  3. a set of sanctions.

In addition to the local dinas, the local communities of the 26 marine reserves agreed to create a “dinabe”, which aims to federate the individual dinas and provides an overall framework for sustainable use of the marine resources and coastal areas in the bay in a complementary manner to the Bay-wide management plan.

  • A process of information dissemination and education was essential to ensure communities had the knowledge necessary to make decisions about the content of the dinas.
  • While maintaining community leadership of the process, the involvement from the outset of the Government was important to minimize the risk that obstacles are encountered later in the process.
  • Legal recognition of the social conventions is essential for their legitimacy in both the eyes of the community and the Government.
  • While difficult to achieve due to a lack of a recognized spokesperson, the involvement of migrant or external fishers in the process of elaboration of the Bay-wide management plan (which establishes the principles of exclusive fishing rights for local communities) would have helped to mitigate their negative influence on the homologation process of the dinabe.
  • Not all parties are going to be supportive of local management of fishing rights and unexpected situations or opposition can arise – as was the case with a group of external fishers who blocked homologation of the final dinabe.
  • The relationships built during the process between all stakeholders are an equally important outcome as the management plan and dinabe and provide a strong base on which to overcome problems. The management plan and dinabe development process created a network of partners that did not previously exist and is now working together to resolve the issue of homologation of the dinabe.