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Explores the complex political and programmatic reasons why government officials in Third World countries often wilfully adopt wasteful natural resource policies. Drawing on 16 case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America, the author documents how clashes among government agencies have led to results ranging from Indonesia's deforestation to the collapse of the Mexican water system, from the destruction of cocoa farms in Ghana to the waste of Nigeria's oil wealth. Covering a broad range of natural resources - forests, land, minerals, oil and water - William Ascher finds striking parallels in both the rationales for abusing natural resources and the strategies governments employ to pursue other goals at the expense of sustainable natural resource exploitation. Yet he also finds parallels - across world regions and for the whole range of resources - for overcoming political and institutional obstacles to better natural resource policies and practices. As the depletion of natural resources threatens to undermine the economic prospects of many developing countries, this text offers structural reform recommendations that seek to get to the heart of faulty natural resource management.