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Collective Action and Property Rights for Poverty Reduction

Insights from Africa and Asia

Edited by Esther Mwangi, Helen Markelova, and Ruth Meinzen-Dick

Publication Year: 2012

To improve their well-being, the poor in developing countries have used both collective action through formal and informal groups and property rights to natural resources. Collective Action and Property Rights for Poverty Reduction: Insights from Africa and Asia examines how these two types of institutions, separately and together, influence quality of life and how they can be strengthened to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor.

The product of a global research study by the Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, this book draws on case studies from East Africa and South and Southeast Asia to investigate how collective action and property rights have contributed to poverty reduction. The book extends the analysis of these institutions beyond their frequently studied role in natural resource management by also examining how they can reduce vulnerability to different types of shocks.

Essays in the volume identify opportunities and risks present in the institutions of collective action and property rights. For example, property rights to natural resources can offer a variety of advantages, providing individuals and groups not only with benefits and incomes but also with assets that can counter the negative effects of shocks such as drought, and can make collective action easier. The authors also demonstrate that collective action has the potential to reduce poverty if it includes more vulnerable groups such as women, ethnic minorities, and the very poor. Preventing exclusion of these often-marginalized groups and guaranteeing genuinely inclusive collective action might require special rules and policies. Another danger to the poor is the capture of property rights by elites, which can be the result of privatization and decentralization policies; case studies and analysis identify actions to prevent such elite capture.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-xii

List of Boxes

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

During the past three decades, major advances have been made in understanding the structure and function of community organizations and the origins and evolution of property rights and access to natural resources. Both local organizing and property rights and access to natural resources have been demonstrated to have profound implications for whether resources such as forests, fisheries...


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pp. xvii-xviii

Acronyms and Abbreviations

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pp. xix-xxii

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Part I: Introduction and Conceptual Framework

Part I includes Chapters 1 (“Introduction and Overview”) and 2 (“Property Rights and Collective Action for Poverty Reduction: A Framework for Analysis”), which set the stage for the rest of the volume. Chapter 1 introduces readers to what the book is about: the role of institutions, especially those focused on collective action and property rights, in contributing to poverty reduction. It...

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1. Introduction and Overview

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pp. 3-24

Poverty reduction has been at the forefront of global discussions for several decades but has recently gained fresh momentum, with various parties urgently pushing for policies and programs that would enhance the well-being of the world’s 1 billion poor.1 The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in the 1990s provide a normative framework and specific targets...

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2. Property Rights and Collective Action for Poverty Reduction: A Framework for Analysis

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pp. 25-48

This chapter presents a conceptual framework for examining how formal and informal institutions of property rights and collective action can contribute to poverty reduction, including through external interventions and action by poor people themselves. The past two decades have witnessed an increased understanding of the role of institutions in natural resource management (Ostrom...

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Part II: Risk Management and Market Access

This part of the book features three case studies: two on the way that poor households use local institutions to cope with shocks (Ethiopia–iddir and the Philippines) and one on smallholder market institutions (Kenya). All three studies focus on collective action and its role in enabling smallholders to deal with certain constraints that they face in accessing insurance schemes and markets...

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3. Burial Societies in Rural Ethiopia

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pp. 51-78

Collective action has both intrinsic and instrumental value. Being part of a group and participating toward meeting a common objective provides direct benefits to individuals. In the Ethiopian survey data used in this study, individuals who reported having larger networks also reported higher levels of happiness. Such correlations are not unique to Ethiopia. Using data from the World...

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4. Shocks, Groups, and Networks in Bukidnon, the Philippines

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pp. 79-109

Because poverty and well-being are determined not only by households’ assets and income but also by their vulnerability to shocks over time (Di Gregorio et al., this volume, Chapter 2), it is important to understand the nature and characteristics of risks and shocks, the extent to which a household engages in ex ante risk management, and the extent to which it can engage in ex post risk...

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5. Rural Institutions and Imperfect Agricultural Markets in Africa: Experiences from Producer Marketing Groups in Kenya

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pp. 110-148

Many Sub-Saharan African countries have liberalized their economies and developed poverty reduction strategies aimed at opening up new market-led opportunities for economic recovery and accelerated growth. The outcomes of these policy reforms have, however, been quite mixed (Winter-Nelson and Temu 2002; Dorward and Kydd 2004; Fafchamps 2004). Many smallholder farmers continue to engage in subsistence agriculture and are therefore unable...

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Part III: Natural Resource Management

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pp. 149-152

This part of the book features six case studies of collective action and property rights in natural resource management (NRM). We begin with a study of watershed management in India, which is followed by two case studies on facilitating collective action, one for a range of NRM topics in the African highlands (Ethiopia and Uganda) and the other for securing property rights for forest communities...

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6. Community Watershed Management in Semiarid India: The State of Collective Action and Its Effects on Natural Resources and Rural Livelihoods

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pp. 153-188

Watershed management is a landscape-based strategy that aims to implement improved natural resource management systems for improving livelihoods and promoting beneficial conservation, sustainable use, and management of natural resources. Integrated watershed management (IWM) has been promoted in many countries as a suitable strategy for improving productivity and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. The Government of India, in particular...

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7. Enabling Equitable Collective Action and Policy Change for Poverty Reduction and Improved Natural Resource Management in the Eastern African Highlands

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pp. 189-234

Spontaneously organized institutions of collective action and the institutional effects of exogenous development interventions are both known to have a profound effect on development outcomes.1 Despite an in-depth academic understanding of the institutional foundations of development and natural resource management (NRM), development interventions continue to have a strong technological bias. Development and conservation interventions continue to be...

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8. The Role of Collective Action in Securing Property Rights for the Poor: A Case Study in Jambi Province, Indonesia

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pp. 235-269

Like many countries around the world (Colfer and Capistrano 2005), Indonesia has initiated a process of decentralization, particularly since the fall of Suharto in 1998. This process has included devolving extensive authority for day-to-day governance to the districts (kabupaten). In the forestry sector, district heads immediately began making use of forest resources as the main source of district income. Concerns over increased uncertainty and adverse impacts on the sustainability...

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9. The Transformation of the Afar Commons in Ethiopia: State Coercion, Diversification, and Property Rights Change among Pastoralists

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pp. 270-303

Change in natural environmental conditions has constantly influenced pastoral livelihoods in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, though the uncertainty of ecological conditions and insecurity of property rights have increased only relatively recently (Scoones 1995; McCarthy et al. 1999). As a result of these changes, the reliable flow of life-sustaining goods and services previously wrought from the area’s...

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10. Unmaking the Commons: Collective Action, Property Rights, and Resource Appropriation among (Agro-)Pastoralists in Eastern Ethiopia

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pp. 304-327

In Ethiopian development policies, pastoralist areas have recently attracted more attention. Funding for (agro-)pastoralist development has increased significantly in the past decade. However, much debate and policy advice are still based on stereotypical representations of pastoralist areas as backward, prone to starvation and food insecurity, and hotbeds of violent conflict and...

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11. Escaping Poverty Traps? Collective Action and Property Rights in Postwar Rural Cambodia

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pp. 328-356

Collective action and property rights are able to shape people’s livelihoods. The conceptual framework presented in Chapter 2 shows that property rights shape people’s claims to benefit streams out of their owned resources and have an impact on their asset base. When property rights are suited to address people’s needs, they have a better chance to shape their livelihoods and to escape poverty...

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Part IV: Synthesis and Conclusions

This section contains the synthesis and conclusions. Parts I and IV can be thought of as mirror-image “bookends” to this volume. Whereas Chapter 1 introduces the themes of the volume, Chapter 13 recaps the findings of the case studies under these themes. Chapter 2 presents the conceptual framework, and Chapter 12 uses the framework to review the findings of the nine case studies...

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12. Collective Action and Property Rights for Poverty Reduction: A Synthesis

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pp. 359-392

The major theoretical enterprise of this book is to understand how the institutions of collective action and property rights influence rural poverty and livelihoods. Their links to sustainable natural resource management (NRM) are relatively well established, but this does not necessarily translate into poverty reduction. To address this question, we also need to look at the inclusiveness...

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13. Conclusions and Implications for Policy, Practice, and Research

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pp. 393-412

This book began by proposing that institutions of collective action and property rights can play a valuable role in facilitating poverty reduction. As discussed in Chapter 1, there is a disconnect between the natural resource management (NRM) and non-NRM poverty research: each has its own strengths, but to date, there have not been many attempts to cross-fertilize the two with lessons learned from each for poverty reduction. This volume bridges this gap by connecting...


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pp. 413-418


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pp. 419-426

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207873
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812243925

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2012