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Universiteit Gent (2012)

Sharing scarce common resources : local water governance in semi-Arid Sub-Sahara Africa

Lecoutere Els

Titre : Sharing scarce common resources : local water governance in semi-Arid Sub-Sahara Africa

Auteur : Lecoutere Els

Université de soutenance : Universiteit Gent

Grade : Doctor of Political Sciences 2012

This dissertation examines how scarce common resources are shared. It deals with common water flows that are largely self-governed by the user communities in semi-arid sub-Sahara Africa. More particularly, it studies how Tanzanian smallholder irrigators share irrigation water which is regularly in scarce supply. The dissertation includes three major parts in which different issues related to local water governance and competition over water are addressed. The first issue that is addressed is the distribution of common pool resources in socially heterogeneous communities. Whereas there is ample literature on the efficiency and sustainability of common pool resource governance in economically heterogeneous communities, little attention is paid to the distribution of resources or to the effect of social differences. Gender and the relative social status of the common pool resource users are two sources of social heterogeneity that relate to the users‟ positions in their communities‟ power structure. These social factors not only determine the value the users allot to the resource but also the extent to which the users abide by the prevailing norms that regulate resource distribution. Eventually, these social factors define the users‟ capability to gain access to the common resource. This issue is worked out in Part II. A framed field experiment, conducted with actual users of selfgoverned smallholder irrigation systems in semi-arid Tanzania, is used to examine the effect of users‟ gender and relative social status on fairness in the distribution of water. Distribution behaviour under conditions of water abundance and water scarcity are looked at. More specifically, Part II investigates whether male and female irrigators share resources in a different way and whether they react differently to water scarcity. Furthermore, it examines if irrigators‟ social status affects the way irrigators share resources when water is abundant and when it is scarce and whether the effect is similar for male and female irrigators. It also determines to what extent real life observations substantiate the experimental findings.


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Page publiée le 23 novembre 2013, mise à jour le 28 novembre 2018