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Water scarcity, property regimes and irrigation management in Sonjo, Tanzania


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  • Tomasz Potkanski
  • William Adams
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    This article explores the dynamics of property rights in irrigation water in Sonjo, Tanzania. It analyses an unsuccessful attempt by the ruling political group to change the institutional arrangements of water control, to serve better their private goals. This example shows that not all internal institutional innovations in the field of utilising natural resources lead to increased efficiency of the system from the point of view of the whole community. We draw on New Institutional Economics (NIE) and Common Property Resource Management (CPRM) theory to analyse the way in which it was possible that those few within Sonjo society who are formally/nominally 'the owners' of water sought to privatise de facto collective use rights of all community members. We consider why this was done in some, but not all, Sonjo communities, and we describe why this process has eventually failed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

    Volume (Year): 34 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 86-116

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:34:y:1998:i:4:p:86-116

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    Cited by:
    1. Mul, M.L. & Kemerink, J.S. & Vyagusa, N.F. & Mshana, M.G. & van der Zaag, P. & Makurira, H., 2011. "Water allocation practices among smallholder farmers in the South Pare Mountains, Tanzania: The issue of scale," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(11), pages 1752-1760, September.
    2. Pieter Zaag, 2007. "Asymmetry and Equity in Water Resources Management; Critical Institutional Issues for Southern Africa," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 21(12), pages 1993-2004, December.
    3. Mehta, Lyla, 2001. "The Manufacture of Popular Perceptions of Scarcity: Dams and Water-Related Narratives in Gujarat, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(12), pages 2025-2041, December.


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