Institutions of collective action and property rights for natural resource management: participation of rural households in watershed management initiatives in semi-arid India

Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy
External Publications (2014)

Aachen: Shaker (Institutioneller Wandel der Landwirtschaft und Ressourcennutzung - Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources, 47)


Capacities of communities to invest in improvements of natural resources vary greatly across communities and resource systems. Conservation of these common pool resources calls for collective action among the various actors and actor groups with competing and sometimes conflicting interests. The study throws new light on the factors for successful collective action to manage natural resources in a watershed and reduce poverty.

The thesis introduces the current empirical context with a review of characteristic problems of rainfed agriculture in semi-arid tropics, focusing on India. Participatory watershed development is discussed as a popular strategy to counter natural resource degradation and poverty reduction paving way for the analysis of the current study. Review of theories pertaining to collective action, property rights, poverty and their interlinkages provide a systematic framework for the analysis. Based on community and household level data, the author analyzes the determinants of successful collective action by communities, differential participation of households in watershed development activities and institutions and reform process of property rights to land and groundwater resources.

Results show that consensus on rules achieved through fair procedures of rule design lead to higher levels of collective action in terms of voluntary labour contributions in the community. However, decision making processes are dominated by households from higher social and economic strata with higher crop and livestock incomes and greater access to groundwater irrigation. The study with its focus on collective action in watershed management highlights several factors that can enhance the participation of members in the community based initiative.

About the author

Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy

Agricultural Economist


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