This has to be accomplished against a background of high illiteracy rates, rapidly growing populations, low and erratic rainfall, inherently infertile soils, and development strategies which have had a strong urban bias. Under such conditions, traditional production systems are unable to sustain the population. Without significant change, land degradation will accelerate and the natural resource base on which agricultural production depends will continue to decline. The efforts made in the 1970s and 1980s to tackle this problem were not particularly successful. They tended to focus too much on production and did not attempt to involve the local population in decision-making and management. Drawing on the lessons learned from these projects, governments, and donors initiated a new generation of community-based, decentralized, multi sectoral Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects. Starting as a series of pilot operations in the late 1980s, this approach sought to ensure local community participation in the identification development and implementation of NRM projects, while building institutional capacity for effective resource use planning and human resource development.