Private-community partnerships: Investigating a new approach to conservation and development in Uganda
Nature-based tourism is well recognised as a tool that can be used for neoliberal conservation. Proponents argue that such tourism can provide revenue for conservation activities, and income generating opportunities and other benefits for local people living at the destination. Private-Community Partnerships (PCPs) are a particular form of hybrid intervention in which local benefits are claimed to be guaranteed through shared ownership of the tourism venture. In this paper, we evaluate one such partnership involving a high-end tourist eco-lodge at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. We examine the introduction, development, and implementation of this partnership using the policy arrangement approach. This is done through analysing the actors involved and excluded in the process, the emergence of coalitions and forces, power relations, the governing rules, and the role of framing discourses. The analysis reveals that the technical conceptualisation of the partnership arrangement failed to take proper account of political and contextual factors, resulting in escalating conflict up to the national level. The paper concludes that while more time is needed to evaluate the full impact of hybrid neoliberal approaches such as PCP, the unbalanced power relations they imply can create fertile conditions for political conflict that ultimately undermines their 'win-win' goals.