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University of Alberta (1995)

Effects of property rights on economic behaviour of pastoral societies in northern Kenya : Analysis of and test for "res nullius" versus "res communes"

Mulinge, Wellington M

Titre : Effects of property rights on economic behaviour of pastoral societies in northern Kenya : Analysis of and test for "res nullius" versus "res communes"

Auteur : Mulinge, Wellington M

Université de soutenance : University of Alberta

Grade : Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (1995)

Résumé
The purpose of this study was to test for the type of property rights regime operating in range resource utilization in Northern Kenya. African nomadic pastoralists have occasionally been accused of following socioeconomic and resource-use strategies that are destructive to the environment and land resource base. This paradigm is commonly referred to as the tragedy of the commons. The problem was analysed by determining the optimization process that the pastoralists use in economic decision making through the discount factor and the theory of rational expectations. A nested model was developed to test for the presence of res-nullius (open access property) versus res communes (true common property). The data used consisted of time series livestock numbers, livestock sales (off take), livestock prices, labour costs, low income consumer price indices, interest rates and ecological indices, all from the Marsabit district, Northern Kenya. Results obtained for Marsabit district from this study suggest that res nullius property rights apply in production of small ruminants (goat and sheep). However, camel and cattle production are res communes. This result suggests that there is a need to destock small ruminants while increasing the number of camels and cattle. Camel populations have been decreasing naturally due to fertility problems and therefore, may not threaten environmental destruction. The problem of open access range depletion seems to apply in resource management strategies of Marsabit district as regards harvesting of forage resources through small ruminants (goats and sheep). Cattle and camel production seems to operate under res communes regime. Traditional property rights institutions don’t seem to apply today, because of external interference. Past government policies have neither helped set up new sustainable institutions nor strengthened traditional institutions.

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